Deep Breathing before Buying Nothing

27 May

So I’m a few days away from June, not many really, and I’m staring at the small pile of money to get me through the next 2 weeks and I feel that familiar tightness in my chest. This reminds me why we’re cutting the cord next month, and why even though it might suck sometimes, something will be awesome.

My goal here is to feel good about money again.

I never learned to save. Call it the consequence of the nuclear family, the 50’s household, but my mother did ALL the housekeeping. The cooking, the cleaning, the bill paying. My father received a certain amount each week for cigarettes and coffee and that was it. He didn’t worry about it. She was his keeper. He didn’t worry about the gas bill being paid, he just made most of the money to pay it.

And then she died, and suddenly, he had a pile of bills, access to the bank account, and no real clue how to manage it all. And around this time, I came of age, and started handling money. These two incidents do not a budget friendly tightwad make. (Perhaps they could, but not in my narrative they didn’t)

Being more than a little screwed up, I adopted the lazy person’s view of the world. Why save for tomorrow when I might die today?!

This is not helpful. While it means that today you get a snazzy pair of shoes or a nice new tattoo, it also means you get to experience to truly awful pain of anal rape via interest rate. I do not recommend, nor does my credit score.

I have shied away from this problem for years. I have been terrified to try and take it in hand, worried that I just couldn’t, which is ridiculous. I’m a smart, capable and adaptable woman-why can’t I get my finances under control? What am I so worried about? Being more poor? I don’t even know if that’s possible. (It is. Trust me it is.)

Sure, a part of me wishes I had a keeper like my father did, wishes I never had to deal with it. And in my marriage, it was kinda like that but without the real partnership aspect. There was no sense of a household budget, no pooling of money. Just two people paying random pieces. No goals, no focus.

I have a focus now.

I want to get some very particular things out of the next month, and possibly longer.

  • I want to catch up on all my bills as much as possible. Looking at my potential incoming dollars, I should be able to be in the green on all but one bill.
  • I want to start setting more money aside. I had started a little savings account via my workplace, but after stepping on someone’s iTouch, after dropping mine in a bathtub, there goes that money. So I start fresh, but I also want to know what it’s like to leave money IN my bank account for something other than paying off bank fees.
  • Completely paying off the overdraft would be nice as well.
  • I need NEED to start seriously working on this house. Which means I need to be able to set money aside for maintenance. Even if it’s just buying drywall compound or a new baseboard heater for the bathroom, it needs to be done, and needs to be made a priority.
My long term focus is to make not spending money a habit. I know people who can do this, and I envy their self control. And when I get right down to it, THAT is what I want and so desperately need. Self Control. I’ve never had it, but it’s about time to get some.
And so you know, I actually did a meal plan tonight for the next two weeks. Potato Pesto Pasta, Zucchini Black Bean Enchiladas, Bean Burritos, Chili, and Chick Pea and Swiss Chard Curry. I figure I can get at least 2-3 meals from each, depending on what the girls might eat. And most of these meals will barely cost more than 5 dollars, with minimal cooking. I’d like to see just how cheap I can get the grocery bill down to as well. I know I spend too much on crap. (And yes, I DO like beans that much. I don’t follow a real vegetarian diet, but I certainly don’t eat much flesh in a normal week.)
I hope you’ll follow me, and hell, possibly even join in this month. My goal is to post every day, the challenges, and the inevitable annoyances. Just like when I quit smoking, I’m looking at this as my breaking years of habits. It won’t come easy. But it will come.
Thanks for coming with me.

3 Responses to “Deep Breathing before Buying Nothing”

  1. Marcy May 27, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    This is great. Really great.

    I seem to have curtailed my habit of spontaneously going out for lunch on preschool days when I didn’t pack one. (We have an hour commute in order to do Montessori school; hard to wait to get home to eat.)

    My husband would like me to have a better idea of what I spend on projects and hobbies; I might think about joining you in the sense of at least trying to keep track of that sort of thing. I would need a new spreadsheet with categories…

    Why does think “Staying abreast of changing room etiquette” is a related post?

  2. Misty May 28, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    I can leave money in the bank, in fact I don’t like spending money, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t bleed out of my account. Debit is too easy. What’s $4 for lunch? Spending large amounts at once I don’t like, it’s the little amounts that kill me.
    Lunch is where I ALWAYS get stuck. I don’t particularly like left overs. Mart usually takes them for his lunch anyway. Sandwiches are always gooey or dry by lunch and McD’s is cheaper than buying most prepared frozen meals. (Those I can stomach anyway.)
    I need to make a meal plan for lunches.
    By cutting out all the junk on your food bill, you’ll save money and likely lose weight too! Extra bonus. When we were REALLY tight on money (believe me I’ve been there – brought a calculator grocery shopping) the only way we ate dessert was if I baked it. That always tasted better too. If I was too lazy, then I really didn’t want it did I.
    Good luck. I’m cheering you on. I’m sure you’ll inspire alot of people along the way.

  3. hodgepodge May 29, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    If you’re going to be growing your own veggies & trying to eat more seasonally, a great website for recipies (most vegetarian) is I’ve had good luck with all the ones I’ve tried, and the recipe index is set up alphabetically by main ingredient, which is hugely helpful if you’re staring down the barrel of cheap parsnips and wondering what the hell to do with them all.

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