Thursday, May 01, 2014

Living Within Our Means

This is what my fridge looks like right now.

In 2011, I started working full time.  Before that point, if we budgeted carefully, only went out to dinner on special occasions, and considered our purchases, we had enough money for our needs.  After 2011, we didn't have to worry about budgeting.  If I wanted something, I bought it.  If I didn't feel like cooking, we went out.  I fell out of the habit of checking how much I was spending every month.  Don't get me wrong, I wasn't going crazy; all those years of being a poor college student and thrifty bargain hunter definitely left their mark, but I wasn't being careful either.

Then in late 2012, I got pregnant and started throwing up, so I switched to working only one day a month. The only thing on my radar was survival.  Then 2013 comes and I have this small human who DOESN'T STOP CRYING FOR 3 MONTHS.

At the beginning of this year, once everyone started sleeping through the night, I started thinking, "huh, I wonder how our bank accounts are doing."  Turns out, we were spending at 2011 levels, but only making 2010 money.  Whoops!

We weren't in the red because we had money saved from my full-time days, but every month, we were spending way more than we were bringing in.  I freaked out and launched a family-economy sequester; buckling down, cutting spending, and asking around for someone to watch my kids so I could start working 1 day a week.

I made a food budget of $800 a month.  It's so high because I was including our Costco trip wherein I might buy socks or a new swimsuit or something, and our grocery store has pretty much everything you could ever need (lamps, pillows, huge toy aisle, art and craft supplies, baby clothes).  I have no idea what I bought, but we maxed out our grocery budget 4 days ago on April 26.  I decided I was going to see if we could stick it out.  I did make an emergency run for milk, apples, and bread, but other than that, it's been slim pickins.

We've eaten every piece of frozen meat in our freezer (I even MADE hamburger rolls to avoid going to the store), eeked out soups with questionable bottom-of-the-bag vegetables, eaten several tuna dishes, and forced my family to eat oatmeal when the cereal ran out.

I've learned several things- 1. Wow, food runs out fast when you're not constantly going to the store to replenish your stock. 2. Man, I'm thankful for the grocery store and I don't have to somehow otherwise procure food.

And 3. I waste so much food!  Most of the food we've been eating these last 4 days has been less than perfect.  Let's just say, I've been cutting some brown spots off.  If I had been able to go to the store, I would have totally thrown that stuff out.  Or, more likely, ignored it in favor of the fresher food and waited until it became completely inedible and then thrown it out.

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