I started out this month with grand plans to meal plan, cook and budget. Since groceries and eating out consume so much of our budget, I thought this would be the easiest way to cut back. The plan was simple enough: inventory food in house, create meals, buy food within budget and cook lovely meals for the week. Everyone should be happy.
The reality was quite different. No one ate the food I made last week! Well, they ate it once and didn’t want to eat any more. My husband said he enjoyed my meatloaf and creamy shrimp. My son always eats my quinoa, but not this week (in hindsight, I added cumin for the first time). For some reason, I ended up eating most of the meatloaf on my own for every meal until it was gone. Gross! And a day after I slaved in the kitchen, I found my husband cooking chicken despite all the food that was in the refrigerator. Even though I carefully shopped within our budget for week, my husband went out 2 days later and brought $66.21 worth of food! I felt defeated and discouraged.
This week I refused to grocery shop! We had plenty of groceries. I also had a feeling my husband would find himself at a grocery store in his days off (Monday and Tuesday). I decided that instead of double shopping, I would let him have at it. I cooked 2 smaller portion meals: chicken parmesan (well, we had no parmesan) and baked some stewed beef. I was simply over it! My family decided they liked my cooking this week. Since there wasn’t much for leftovers, my husband cooked some baked chicken and shrimp pasta on Monday and then made us chicken fried rice yesterday. On top of it all, he didn’t go grocery shopping either! The results have been wonderful; great food and zero spending!
When I decided to meal plan, I forgot that my husband enjoys cooking and has been doing most of the cooking for the family for the last 10 years. My goal moving forward is to come up with a good way to share the responsibility. I think I’ll make a plan to cook Wednesdays and Friday-Sunday when I am off, and let him have at it on Mondays and Tuesdays. Thursdays will be leftover days since we both work and are busy with kid activities. I also need to stop trying to feed an army and make smaller portion sizes! I don’t mind eating leftovers, but I am finding my family to be pretty picky!
2/10 – Zero spending Day #6
When I first took to blogging, I was searching to become a minimalist. Each month I would document my successes and failures to declutter my life. Next, I took on debt and spent an entire year paying off my second mortgage. This blog has taken many different focus points. It is interesting that I find myself still struggling with both. While I have made significant changes in my life, I feel the need to get back to the basics: budgeting and minimizing!
As you know, I am now enjoying working part time. Even though I assumed that it would be the answer to all my woes, it has proven to have brought more challenges. I am constantly struggling with having more time verse having more money. My desire to live solely off of my husband’s income and use my checks for savings have not come to fruition. In the few months we have been at this, I am very grateful to have my paycheck to cover bills and household expenses. We were managing for the most part.
Of course Murphy’s law kicked in. I came home the other day to a surprisingly hot house. I turned up the AC and didn’t think much of it. A few hours later and our home is only getting hotter. Since we live in the desert of Arizona, it soon became unbearable and very obvious that our AC unit was dying or died. We suffered through the night and I woke up with a migraine due to dehydration. We called for a company to check it out and were told that there was no hope for our 25 year old unit. We would have to purchase a new one. The cheapest price: $7,000! On top of that, they couldn’t repair it that day so we had to spend the night in a hotel. Since we don’t have 7K floating around, we financed it through a 3rd party company. We have one year interest free. To add to that, we received news that a close family member passed away and my husband wanted to fly home for the funeral adding another unexpected expense of $500. And did I mention we have a 10 year anniversary trip to the Caribbean planned in 2 weeks that we booked before all of this happened? Luckily the trip is already paid for, but we still have to buy food while we are there!
I have my work cut out for me! I need to:
- Revamp the budget to include paying off the $7K in a year.
- Stick to the budget create!
- Get organized to save money (and accomplish the other ongoing fitness, health and family goals I have)
- Find ways to maximize my work hours but still have personal time for myself.
I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, but I can do it! Actually, I don’t have much of a choice! I have to!
The other day, a coworker finally paid me for girl scout cookies she brought a while back. Since all money was due a month ago, I had paid for these cookies with my own money. Every year it seems like someone forgets to pay me, so I chalked it up to a loss. Anyways, I found myself with an “extra” $16 in cash. Today I found myself at McDonald’s again. Had I not had this money, I probably would haven’t stopped. But with a coupon, I ended up spending $3.80 on a value meal which my kids split. The danger with me and cash is that I always feel like it doesn’t have a job, so I seem to spend it on random items. I also had to pay for my daughter’s end of the year medal for baseball which was another $6. I was happy to have the cash on hand to pay for this. Getting this money started me thinking about all the extra money that may or may not come in from reimbursements or returns this month. In rank order of how certain I feel that I will get this money, here are the possibilities:
- $65 – Husband returned some shoes; just waiting for the credit to appear on our credit card statement
- $40 – Husband claims he brought items for work which they will reimburse him
- $100 – Husband received a raise that will be reflected on his 4/15 paycheck; I calculated that it should be around $100 but I could be way off. (Long-term plan is to increase his 401K contributions by this amount since he’s not maxed out yet)
- $550 – Husband is supposed to get reimbursed for travel expenses. Since this isn’t through work, I don’t know when or if we will see this entire amount or any actually.
- $250 – Mother-in-law told me she would be putting a check in the mail last week; I’m skeptical about this also.
As I typed all that, I noticed the main person who seems to be responsible for having people owe us money is my darling husband! No judgement, just an observation. Overall, if we get all of it, that would be about $1,000. I haven’t added any of this into our budget for the month. Since this is a very tight month for us, it would be really helpful if even 1/2 of it came through. How do you deal with budgeting and random unreliable sources of money?