Budget Blues

I’ve always been very well cared for. Always had more than I needed. Never really wanted for anything. And I am exceedingly thankful for that! I wish that in my heart of hearts I never REALLY wanted for anything. Oh but I did, and I do, want for more. More than I need. More than is necessary. It’s a battle that I’ve been having with myself probably since middle school. For example, while all my friends got new cars when they turned sixteen and then another round of new cars when they headed off to college, I drove the same 1995-no power steering, locks, or windows-stick shift-hand-me-down-from-my-Daddy-Saturn until just a few years ago when a big 18-wheeler totalled it. I had to work for most of the things I did on the weekends – going to the movies. Going out to eat with my buds. Going to the beach in the summer. This continued on into college. I worked for the money I got and did without fancy clothes or fancy anythings. And I’m genuinely not sad about this at all. Occasionally it frustrated me when I was younger – but that was only when the amount of money I earned did not match up with the amount of money I liked to spend. My parents gave me a lot – for sure! They paid for my college education – all of it. I am so grateful for that! I am also grateful that I had to work for things. And that I had to do without things. Because that is real life. [I’m not saying that if your parents gave you money they were wrong or you’re not a well-rounded adult as a result. I’m just saying that God knew that I could not be showered with the fancy stuff because if I had been, I would place entirely too much importance on it!]

I do love fancy things, though. And when I find something I want, I’m not very good at waiting to get it. It is, therefore, good that I married a man who is, ummm, frugal. Yes frugal is a nice way to say that [I love you, Joshy!]. A few years ago we made the commitment to live debt-free and save our money so that life’s little surprises wouldn’t completely throw us into the hole. This means that we live within a VERY strict budget, thanks to Mr. Frugal, and do without a lot of things so that we can save like crazy. In our present situation, with a husband who is working a decent paying but not necessarily well-paying job when the cost of living is what it is and a wife who is working a no-paying, monetarily speaking, job, things can get a little tricky! And I sometimes find myself very frustrated.

We use the envelope system. For groceries and for all spending money. When it’s gone, it’s gone. So use it wisely. Sooo, Friday I sat down to make my menu for the week and my grocery list and then thought that I’d better check to see how much money we had left for the month. The grand total – $84 for the rest of the month. For anything you purchase at a grocery store [not including Adelle’s formula and diapers]. And I’m hosting a Girls’ Night here on Friday night. And I had yet to buy the goodies for the partay. Very trick business, I tell you. So, I carefully weighed my menu options – choosing only meals that could be made using canned goods or ingredients I already had. This will not be the healthiest two weeks of eating, but we will be fed. I decided I would make our bread. I have a yummy Honey Wheat Bread Machine recipe and all the ingredients to do it, so why not?

Armed with the grocery list, my trusty calculator, a handful of coupons, and a somewhat apprehensive attitude toward the budget puzzle I was staring in the face, I marched myself into Publix and began weaving my way up and downt he aisles. After having placed all the items I needed into the cart, I was at $53. This would not do. I had to get it down to $42 so that I could at least have $42 for next week. Hmmm. Hmmm. Hmmm. What will I give up? I made my way over to the coffee aisle and traded the $7 bag gourmet coffee [for the girls’ night] for boring, shmoring $3 Foldger’s. Then I returned the ground beef to it’s resting place and decided I would trade that meal for good ole’ beans and rice, which Josh happens to love. This still did not get me down to $42, but I decided to just go with it and face an even more difficult budget puzzle next week.

The nice Publix cashier announced my total as $40 and something cents! [I am sharing with you the exact amounts of money spent so that you know that it is, indeed, possible] Go coupons! Go God for honoring my little sacrifice of gourmet coffee and ground beef! I walked out feeling very triumphant and determined that I must write about the experience.

If you, like me, feel a like it is IMPOSSIBLE to live on such a limited budget, take heart. And be encouraged by my story! No one really cares whether you serve gourmet coffee or Foldger’s. And if they do, you may not want to be their friend anyway. AND don’t be embarrassed to put things back. This does not mean you are a loser! It just means that you are wisely spending your money on things that are necessary and important. And celebrate the self-discipline God is teaching you through your budgeting blues!

Keep on keepin’ it down and dirty!

If you need a cheap-o meal, this is an all time fave of mine. A recipe of my mother’s, as always…

Simple Soup
1 can chili, no beans
1 can corn
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can Veg-all
1 can vegetable soup

Dump it all in a pot and heat it up. The end.

9 Comments

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  1. 1
    Erin, Mommy on the Run

    This post was so timely for me. Today is my last day at work, and Monday is my first day as a SAHM. We are sacrificing half of our income…which means major changes:) Thanks so much for honestly portraying the budgeting struggle. So worth it.

  2. 2
    Jennifer

    I feel like you just told my life story!:)

    Josh drives my 2000 Accord that was my first car when I turned 16. I drive a nice SUV that we paid cash for…so no car payments. No debt. Just a house payment.

    As secure as I feel with our finances, I am also equally frustrated when I "want." We have far more than we need and are so blessed. I think it's hard for us at times as we are surrounded by friends who live with debt and pay for so much with a credit card. I would never want that lifestyle, but at times, it's hard to not want things. I just have been reminded so many times that we are responsible for the way we save and spend and I want to honor God with what he has intrusted to us.

    Just know we are an envelope system, budgeting, saving family, too! 🙂

  3. 3
    The Lords

    I'm jealous that you get to shop at a Publix.

    Although I dreaded it at first, I've come to enjoy planning out our weekly meals in order to stay within our budget. FYI: Target can be expensive for some things, but prints some great coupons for others, especially baby products!

  4. 4
    Katy Hill

    Good post, Em! Budgeting is tough, but it sure is worth it and I firmly believe God blesses your efforts. Thanks for the encouragement-Dave (and Josh) would be so proud!

  5. 5
    Lindsey

    I know that budget you speak of…and that little voice in the middle of the grocery and I also know the excitment when staying under budget!!! Go you!

  6. 6
    Lauren

    Good job, Em! Was Adelle with you??? Also, what is Veg-all? Every time I feed Spencer a frozen waffle I remind myself that I really need to make them myself and then freeze them. So, I'm going to try that recipe too. I have a great recipe for them that I love, but you have to have active dry yeast, and then you buy it and then it expires, and then you have to throw it away…makes me sad. Plus, then I won't feel like a big money-waster when I eat the waffles we buy "just for Spencer." I'll just feel like a fatty. =)

  7. 8
    Brett and Jill

    Brett lost his job in Dec. so we are living off my income (less than a 1st year school teacher) and his unemployment. We are learning the lesson of a budget. So far it has been ok. Thanks for the encouragment. It helps to know there are others out there living on a tight budget. 🙂

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