So, I’ve mentioned we’re budgeting. Which I HATED and RESISTED for a long time. Remember my post about how we couldn’t afford a photo booth at the wedding and had to cut it loose? And everyone was like, “Spreadsheets!” and, “Budgets!” and, “Sanity!: And I was all, “yeah yeah yeah…ok mom.”
Well… it became very clear shortly after that (ok, maybe a few months of me sticking my fingers in my ears but I did come around after all), that having two incomes and two spenders was making me nutso unless things were thought about and written down somewhere. So that was the practice round.
The real game changer was quitting my job in order to actually have a career that doesn’t have to do with stuff-I-hate-but-just-happen-to-be-pretty-good-at. And the only way that was ever going to work was by budgeting. And sticking to it like … gum on your shoe… that’s been walked on for a day, I mean it’s really really stuck on there, ya know? So we have some strict guidelines and they have taken some getting used to. And about 5 minutes ago (On Wednesday evening) I was whining about how I’m hungry and how I don’t want anything to eat that’s in the house but I know I should just shut up about it and eat what we have because we can’t buy anymore food until this weekend and I have two days left so just leave it alone, Lauren, will you? And as these things often happen, I couldn’t stop thinking about our stupid budget, and here we are… in blog land.
The truth is, I’m proud of our budget, as much as it aggravates me. I’m proud of it because I know it’s getting us somewhere, a magical place where one day we might have a house, and I might be able to buy a shirt or a pair of shoes whenever I fancy, instead of waiting for my birthday or Christmas, or dinner and a movie could be a real possibility. So, I thought I would share some of what we do. Just in case you would like to one day get to your own happy place where you might have some savings to go somewhere warm or exotic, or to blow it all on clothes. I’m not judging.
The first thing we did was really cut down our food budget. We were spending 50-100 bucks a week, easily. We would buy lots of things, things we thought we needed but then would end up throwing out like true wasteful Americans. Or we would store it. Because everyone needs 3 boxes of pasta and 3 jars of 1/2 eaten pasta sauce, right? And lots and lots of frozen things. Lots. To the point where we would forget and then buy the frozen thing again. It was stupid. It was comfortable and easy.
But now we eat on $40 a week. For two people. Every week we buy food and it never goes above $40. Alright, to be totally honest… sometimes we have a “once in a while” grocery run when we run out of toilet paper and laundry soap, but other than that we’re on the $40 a week money diet. We never buy things that aren’t on sale. We think about the sales and we do the math and we make sure we’re getting the most bang for our buck. We always, always buy fresh produce every week and we eat it every week or it will go bad. We buy high quality meat and freeze it. We cook a meat product (this week it was pork chops) once a week and have the left overs for other dinners and usually at least 1-2 lunches. We’ve also lowered our portions, which is really better for us anyway. 2 good sized chicken boobs will last us an entire week (4-5 meals between the two of us) because we eat other things like rice and veggies to supplement. We weren’t huge meat eaters to begin with, so meals like this feel indulgent and not at all like a sacrifice. So, the argument that healthy food is too expensive? I feel like that’s a myth. Yes, fast food will always be cheaper than normal speed food, but for both of us, per day, it costs us $5.71 to eat. A DAY. Wrap your mind around that.
The other thing we’ve done is implement allowances. $50 every other week for each of us. From this money comes all of our eating out, movies, etc… everything that’s extra. This has been the hardest thing to do since it also limits our social-ness. And as I’ve said before, it’s really hard for me to say no… especially when I don’t want to. So, we’re still working on this. This afternoon Kamel said, “Oohh and then we can go to dinner on Friday night!” and I had to tell him, “No, we can’t. We don’t have the money.” And he was disappointed. And then he said, “Well what can we do that doesn’t cost any money?” Yes. That is the question, isn’t? Besides go for walks and stay home, we’re kind of out of ideas. But remember, we’re getting to that good place of happy careers and a better quality of life. So, we plug along.
Everything else, we just map out. We know what we can afford and we work with it. And it has nothing to do with weddings, centerpieces, or entrees (well sometimes it does have to do with entrees doesn’t it?). It’s about life. And building one, somewhere… in the future. Where I can buy a shirt without sweating about it. Or a fucking granola bar. We’ll get there.