Today, I handed over $159.65 to the warehouse in exchange for a bunch of staples (I listed them out at the bottom – feel free to skip if it bores you to tears).
I’m having a lot of trouble adjusting to the new budget. If my budget is a bus to get us where we’re going, well, my brain got onboard, but my guts were still in the gift shop and missed the boarding call.
I keep having ‘gut feelings’ about things. Like, I have a gut feeling that I can totally afford getting pizza tonight, or I have a gut feeling that a new keyboard for my Treo is not only OK, but downright necessary, considering how often I’m using it to write things while waiting for one Denizen or another on the road.
I can afford a small amount of that kind of thing. Very small amounts. Each thing is usually under twenty bucks (negligible, right?), but kind of like the way a single drop of water is nothing to worry about but a bucketful can drown you, the twenty bucks come flowing together until at the end of the month I’m scratching my head going, “Wait, how in the world did pizza delivery end up costing us $2,521.72?”
I’ve decided to give myself the budgetary equivalent of electric shock treatment. Instead of using my credit cards, I’m getting my weekly allowance when I get groceries. At the first of the month, I get $180; each week thereafter, I get $140.
So when the register came up to $159.65, I swiped my card and got twenty bucks cash back. Twenty measly bucks. I looked at that lone twenty dollar bill and groused to myself. Well. Not entirely to myself. I may have muttered aloud a bit. Twenty @*^&@ing bucks. Ridiculous!
But it is exactly what I need to do. As I went through Costco, I was keeping a mental tab as I went. $20. $25. $35. $57. $80. I had to! I knew I only had $180 for the week, and this being the first week I have precisely zip in carryover from previous weeks!
As the mental tab was getting to be more than I had, I was putting things back. Prepackaged snacks for lunches. String cheese. Potato chips (shouldn’t be eating those anyway).
This is exactly what the cash diet is good for – it forces you to acknowledge how much you no, really have, and to act accordingly. I won’t be going into the supermarket and blowing $40 on stuff I didn’t go in there to get, purely because it’s ‘only’ $40.
I have $20. That’s it. There it is. One twenty dollar bill. And if I cheat, well. It’s like cheating a solitaire, you know? I’m cheating myself, and the family who rely on me to make it all work.
Fortunately, we have a half-full freezer, an almost full tank of gas, and good sneakers – there will be a lot more walking to and from school now, both to save gas and hopefully so that mommy can lose some of the jiggle that seems to have made itself at home around her waist.
Hopefully, next week’s grocery trip will be more of the $40 variety…
|50# Sack of flour||$9.49|
|Milk (4 gal)||$9.58|
|Mac N Chez (15 pak)||$8.99|
|Diet Pepsi (oh, vice!)||$8.79|
|Sin Tax (CA redemption)||$1.44|
|Shredded mozzarella 5#||$9.89|
|5 dozen eggs||$6.49|
|Dishwashing gloves (9 pair)||$5.99|
|5# Rotgut non-gourmet WOE IS ME coffee||$9.69|
|Babybel cheese, 28||$8.89|
|Half-n-Half, 1/2 gal||$2.29|
50# of flour is a month's worth of six to eight loaves of bread a week (I already had a 5# sack of yeast in the garage), a weekly batch of cookies for lunches and snacks, waffles, muffins, and however many pies and banana bread and whatever other fool thing I take it into my head to bake. I go through not nearly as much sugar as you might think, though – one ten pound bag will last me a couple months.
The milk, though, will be toast by next Monday. Four gallons is conservative; I actually already had a gallon and a half in the fridge. We go through a lot of milk. A lot of it.
The canned mushrooms will last me several months. So will the Ramen noodles – we don’t really eat them all that often. They’re more of a junk-food-snack for us.
I’m sure I will survive the gourmet coffee deprivation. And it will make me that much more grateful when I do manage to acquire a bag or two of Da Good Stuff.
I go through dishwashing gloves at a shocking clip. I swear, I go through a pair a week. What am I doing wrong?! Even ‘heavy duty’ gloves always seem to acquire a hole in the tip of a finger within a week or two. ARGH.