Saturday, April 21, 2018

Whole Lot Of White Space on My Calendar

I personally have very few commitments on my calendar for the rest of April. DH is having his annual siblings night tonight at the cabin instead of them going out and staying in a hotel. They'll probably go in town for dinner and a couple drinks, maybe some music, but then head back and just drink like fishes back at the lake. We all really need to be using the space more year round. Our budget will be ahppy for a lighter cost to the weekend. DD2 has the make up ACT test this morning, followed by her and the posse of friends heading over a couple towns for a Raising Kane's late lunch. The kids love this chain chicken place. When DS was in high school, it was heading over two towns for Buffalo Wild Wings. Now, 12 year late, BWW's are everywhere, but still not in our town, but the interest has wained. Tomorrow we have her show choir banquet. 

Other than that, my weekend is my own. My sister's sister-in-law's husband passed away this week and the funeral and visitation are tomorrow. DH and I will stop at the visitation before the banquet, but are not going to the funeral. I offered to make a dessert and pasta salad for the light dinner following the service, but waiting to hear from my sister what and how much might be needed. I'll go to church tomorrow morning, but probably alone as DD2 will sleep in and DH will hang at the cabin getting a few spring jobs done before coming home mid afternoon. I've got nothing scheduled any week night other than our nephews birthday party Friday night. I'll try to get to DD2's track meet Tuesday though.

I plan to go to a community conversation meeting next Sunday night on diversity and inclusivity in the community. As with most communities, our smallish town is much more diverse culturally, racially, and linguistically than when I grew up. I think that is a good thing and am pleased we are engaging in conversations to ensure the feel of our community  is welcoming, yet long time residence still feel at home. I think compared to many places, at least outwardly, it seems we might be moderately successful in doing so. I'll be curious to  talk with neighbors, other parents, business owners, seniors and youth if they experience this, and if not, discuss direction and solutions. 

What started as a jam packed month fizzled to little after the weekend of the snow storm. My house could use a good top to bottom cleaning, so housework is planned for today. Hopefully by next weekend, we will see the end of the snow melt and can start on some yard work. I long for those nights spent outside on my deck, no running anywhere needed. The time is coming. 
Pup s ready for deck time as well. 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Husbands and Grocery Stores

This rant is only about my husband, but enough folks have chimed in on past posts about odd shopping patterns by their significant others. As of yesterday morning, I was at  $177 for household and grocery shopping. My plan was to shop on my way mfrom work tonight at Aldi's. Now seeing that Thursday is DH's day off and we did need groceries, I knew he would do some level of rogue shopping. The budget is solid this month, I thought, easily able to absorb a random $50 or so dollar shop. I nearly gagged when I saw his receipt-$105. The only meat he bought was a family pack of boneless country style ribs and some deli meat. Then, discovering we were low on BBQ sauce, he ran to the store near us and spent another $10 on sauce, canned baked beans, and saw a good deal on cheese so bought that. My spending has jumped to $292, with 11 days left in the month and I haven't even shopped for household goods and dog food.

Nothing is inherently bad that he purchased, just not thought out at all. It is a series of "good deals".  We like yogurt. Did we need 20 containers of Yoplait because they were 10 for $5, or would 10 have been plenty for this week? ( I also have been buying Greek yogurt and not the overly sweetened versions which he bought.) He bought two huge bags of Malt O Meal cereal at 3 for $7. I buy smaller boxes, that I know will actually get eaten, for under $2. Chances are 1/3 of each of these bags will get stale before DD2 gets to eating it all. Bulk buying is different for different families. Sure, 12 years ago with two teens and a preschooler, buying huge cereal bags was a no brainer. Today, it is nonsense. 

The rest was like this as well. Five items of something. Ten of another, but other than the ribs which we will get two meals out of, and two frozen pizzas, nothing will make complete meals. I'm still going to need to shop this weekend, once I do a think through what he bought, to round out with protein and vegetables. I guess his shopping isn't all bad. We had a nice meal of ribs, baked potatoes we already had on hand, and baked beans. On the truly bright side, it beats a gambling habit. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Hot Topic-Winning Some Frugal Battles

Wow! Thanks for the great participation in yesterdays post. You're all thoughtful in your points raised and added so much perspective. Thanks for sharing your stories. I think I hit a nerve with myself and was prepared for back lash, but I'm learning different thoughts, when given with respect, is great for communicating. For me, I'll continue practising my thrifty skills, while still humbly acknowledging I am truly privileged. Here's five frugal things for my week so far. 

  1. I tapped into some of my coffee gift card balance and got a medium  Day Break at Caribou and an oatmeal cookie. I didn't deserve anything, but felt like a treat. Really, I didn't want to grind coffee beans this morning and convinced myself that the cards are meant to be spent. I did throw  40 cents in the tip jar though, so that is the grand sum of my purchase. 
  2. Having back to back early meetings outside of my office, I didn't pack a lunch. I had fruit left from yesterday and soup in my desk drawer. I was tempted to stop for a Jimmy John's on route back to my office but talked myself out of it. 
  3. I left the office late, called home to see what they might want me to pick up for dinner. DH said never mind, we'll use up the hamburgers. I remembered we still had 1/2 a bag of tots and coleslaw cabbage. We successfully avoided take out, but DH gets the win on that one. 
  4. I brought leftover chicken noodle soup on Monday and Tuesday for lunch. I'll bring it again today and finish the last of it tomorrow. Boring, but I'll vary the fruit between apple, clementines, and banana. 
  5. I found change in the laundry, my coat pocket, and at the bottom of a back pack. Into the tea tin it will go. 
I loved a comment yesterday from a reader. She mentioned she felt privileged to be able to be frugal. Because she chose to not have a job outside of the home, it meant she needed to sew, cook from scratch,and economize. I won't always do the most thrifty thing and my finances are such that I don't need to, but I detest waste and stupid spending. For the most part, I really  like working outside the home. It is my privilege. But like Barbara, I hope I am practicing economy along the way. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Belt Tightening Exercises-Fun or Preparedness

This post might make me unpopular among some readers, but it is how I feel. Poor people get a bad wrap.I'm tired of the rhetoric. It must be their choices are bad. They have too many kids they can't afford. They don't work hard enough. If a family needs to utilize public assistance programs, then so many people feel bound to analyze and judge their food purchases, any purchases. Snarky politicians out to slash budgets will tout budget anecdotes as the answer to the problems of the poor. "Look at this family featured on the news," they'll reference. "They feed their family of six for under $300 a month. Food stamps are way too generous and just encourage poor buying habits." Even though research has shown that drug testing for  public assistance benefits costs more than any potential cost savings to disallow a person to receive benefits, weekly I still see the meme pop up on Facebook feeds. I disagree, but understand why people feel entitled to get angry. Life is expensive and feeling like someone else is getting a free ride is unpleasant. True, some people are poor because they perpetually self sabotage, but I do not think that is most.

Neighborhoods or whole communities will rail against affordable housing coming to their town, worried it will bring in all sorts of problems. They worry property values will decrease. I get it. We  bought our house in a new neighborhood that was originally designated as 90% single family, but then a change happened and the amount of duplexes and four-plexes went up by five times. We know it impacted the housing prices in our neighborhood. Still, everyone needs and deserves a safe place to raise a family, come home at night to sleep, and live in retirement.

I do not want to be poor. I have lived on a very low income in the past, but have never truly experienced poverty. In part though, I worry about how my family would cope should the worst hit us financially. How low could our living expenses go? How long would our savings last? Could we sell our house and find a less expensive house, putting some cash back into our account to stretch our savings longer? Would I be able to feed, clean, and clothe my family for a month on an extremely austere budget? I hope I am not coming across as pompous when I write about my various financial challenges. I don't want to look like the snarky folks I mention that  make flippant statements about how easy  it would be to belt tighten. I do these challenges on occasion, and in effort to save more for other goals. I know I am not doing it because there is no money.

 It saddens me to know there are seniors choosing between healthy food and medicine. It scares me to think that as well as we have prepared and with my rather good insurance, if each of had expenses to our max out of pocket, we'd save very little-imagine that when DD2 is in college and we are stretching the budget for tuition or once we are on a fixed income? I have the choice right now to challenge my spending patterns.  While I like the fun of a self imposed target, I also see it as preparedness. Some day, the worst could happen and it might not be a choice.