Let's rewind four years. Valentine's Day 2002 was a rough but sweet one for me. I was still a baby at 21 and was spending the actual day with someone I loved for the first time (the previous year things were long distance). I also was flat broke. No joke, I could have demanded that the homeless people accosting passersby for change actually help me out.

Anyway, I had finally landed a freelance gig and was able to save about 20 bucks for the big day. I was so pitiful! I typed out a budget in Notepad, as if I were putting together some fabulous soiree. Reality: I was buying delicious honey wheat bread from Einstein's, the divine sandwich shop in Inner Sunset (that, seemingly out of nowhere, went out of business), some deli meat and sprouts from Safeway, some drinks and some Kettle chips, I think. Thanks to the Safeway card and the choice of day-old instead of super fresh bread, I came in under budget.

Oh, I also put together a little basket of candles and other goodies ... thanks to my mother's Express card. Yup, I had a card linked to her Express account so I could do some shopping at Structure, the sibling store, while at Rutgers. I saved that sucker and realized during my early, unemployed days in SF that I could use it at Bath & Body Works, which offered sweet-smelling candles in addition to lotions and potions. I may have been dining on potatoes and PB&J, but at least my room smelled lovely.

Four years later, I gotta say, love would be nice, but at least I got me some money!

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