Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Money Monday: January 8, 2011

Bet you didn’t know that Tuesday is the new Monday. I know. I too am shocked at the things that don’t make the main newscasts in this country.

Ahem. Yes. Well. The weekend got away from me a little bit – there’s a Thing at work that was supposed to go into a testing environment, but then the main partner who is forcing us to do all this in the first place was all, “Oh, wait, hang on, we’re not actually ready!” but I had all this code that wasn’t ready to go, but also couldn’t exactly be dropped, and…it was just a weird weekend.

Then last night got away from me.

And tonight is about to do the same; I had one of those away-from-home-for-sixteen-hours days today. Awesome.

Anyway…I didn’t have any Stunning Revelations last week; I think the most interesting thing for me last week was the realization of just how much certain things I never really took into consideration as Particularly Big Deals have impacted our ability to really get our feet under us.

Mind you, when placed into a pool of average people – I’m relatively sheltered from a lot of the stuff that has absolutely slammed the general population. For example, I realized this weekend that what I pay for flour has gone up by 23% in about two years time. Which for someone who does as much baking as I do is a pretty frightening figure.

That’s right. I’m paying $1.83 more per month for flour. Somebody call the Red Cross! Get this woman some aid, STAT!

As line items, they don’t really hit my radar. I’m aware of them, but they don’t hit me in the gut and make me feel sick, you know? Irritated on occasion, granted, but not devastated.

But at the same time…milk has gone up 40%. A dozen eggs 43%. A tank of gasoline that used to cost $23 is now $34. The monthly penalty for gas and electricity has gone from $205 to $355 – and not because we’ve suddenly gotten all crazy with our usage, which has actually stayed flat or even dropped over the last four years – and yet never does this result in a lower bill, somehow.

Meanwhile, the husband is not only earning less, but handing over far more of his pre-tax-so-at-least-there’s-that income for health insurance.

None of which is news. None of which surprises me. I’m (cough-cough) more than slightly aware of even slight fluctuations in the prices of things I buy regularly, and am one of those people who will walk away from darn near anything when it trips my oh-so-sensitive Too Expensive O’Meter.

I can’t even say I was surprised to add up all the columns and realize that the husband’s net paycheck can’t cover even the non-discretionary budget items on its own. Slightly bummed out and a little bit riled up, but at the same time…

…at the same time…

Y’all have no idea how lucky I feel.

We’re going to have to keep on working hard and keeping a tight rein on things; there won’t be any big vacations, or new cars, or indulging in iGadgets and maid services.

And we’re OK with that. It’s a road we’ve walked before; sometimes because we had to, sometimes because we wanted something that was otherwise beyond our means. We already have a profound sense of why…and it has nothing to do with being punished.

It has everything to do with continuing to pursue what we really want, and having a better chance of actually getting it, by letting go of things that don’t really matter to us – things that are just shiny, or cool, or fun, but that we’re going to drop forgotten on the floor in an hour’s time, bored and looking for the next fun thing.

I did come away with a couple action items; we are indeed spending too much on pre-fab food, and I also definitely need to quit being lazy about how I categorize things. I suspect an awful lot of stuff is getting dumped into “groceries” that doesn’t belong in there, but I’ve just been too lazy to actually break things out or even think about what I was actually buying – let alone taking the receipt out of my wallet and reviewing it.

The other thing I want to do is figure out if there is any way I could pay off at least one of the debts remaining from the Great (Under)Employment Fiasco™ next month. I think it might be possible…but it may require a fairly intense display of tightwad prowess, a healthy dose of Being A Damned Grownup For Once (nooooooooo, not THAT!) and extremely on-top-of-things organizational skills (…uh oh…) because there would be a bit of Financial Alchemy involving shuffling the virtual envelopes containing the savings goals for things like property taxes, annual car insurance premiums and stuff like that in a kind of shell game – all of it to be fully settled as if nothing had ever happened before April 17 when the income tax returns have to be filed and the bill (if any) paid in full.

Meals could have gone better last week; early in the week, I charged out to get the necessary ingredients out of the freezer and found the key to it had gone AWOL. I couldn’t find it anywhere.

This was what might be called a major setback; you can imagine how frustrated / angry / freaked out I was, with thousands of dollars in food right there in the garage…and me not able to access it!!

After having torn the house apart about five times (including a thorough search of the trash cans and every pocket of every pair of pants I could lay my hands on), I thought to look behind the freezer itself; sure enough, somebody (me) had left the key sitting on top of the freezer instead of putting it back in the cupboard, and somebody else, though warned with increasingly foul language not to EVER do so (husband), had come along and shoved mass quantities of boxes, totes and other paraphernalia onto that same freezer top (the chest freezer is proving a real challenge on that front – everything from baskets of clothes to power tools keep being piled up on top of it! ARGH, QUIT IT!!!)…thus knocking the key clean off the freezer and into the spider-webbed darkness behind it.

Fortunately, the insanely large-headed and bright-red-haired Power Puff Girl keychain was relatively easy to spot in the garage…this weekend, when I was finally home in daylight hours.

Hopefully, I’ll be back on track now with making more meals at home; I’ve got nothing particular going on this weekend (don’t tell anybody, for GAH’S sake!), so hopefully I’ll be able to get ahead on some meals enough that the number one obstacle for me, which is coming home so dog-tired I can’t even think about food, let alone fiddle with it, can be overcome by virtue of said meals being oven-ready. Go to the freezer, take out the casserole dish…

This week is turning out to be mostly a “put random ingredients into skillet, heat through, and serve with rice or noodles” kind of deal.

Gah, I hope I can get my feet under me a little better next week…

1 comment:

PipneyJane said...

I feel your pain. I've been slammed sideways by an adjustment to my Tax Code (our equivalent of withholding on your tax). In principle, it's correct and what I want to happen (tax for my rental property collected via payroll so I don't get a tax bill at the end of the year). It's just that they'll be collection all the 2011/12 extra tax in 3 months(!) instead of over the 12 months or so I was expecting when I asked them to do this a year ago. Just what I don't need when DH is unemployed.

From April onwards, my take-home pay will drop about £100 from what it is now to account for the extra 2012/13 tax, but that is manageable. (Our tax year ends on 5th April.) I'm just reeling from having to pay it all at once...

- Pam