Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 15: Eggs with a side of Chronic Depression

I am a spoiled American. There are children suffering in China and Sudan, there are millions that are going hungry here on our very turf; and yet when my husband told me that we couldn't go to a nice dinner with our favorite friends last weekend, I literally cried. Like, with real tears. And then I pouted for a solid hour while I gave him incriminating looks meant to make him feel like the horrible food nazi that he is. Naturally, he hardly noticed. Maybe he was punishing me for my fabulous hair (see previous post), or maybe he was trying to follow through on the goal that we set out to accomplish (such a goody goody) but either way I ended up crying over my egg sandwich and stale potato chips. When I got over it (3 days later) I realized that it was the right decision because we didn't have the cash allotted for it and I would have felt bad about it the next day. Plus I saved a load of calories, so there's that. I'm bitter, 2 pounds lighter, and have no friends; but by God we are right on track.

Make no mistake, I hate budgeting. As I hate Hell, and all Montegue.

As this budget is slowly turning me into a sulking, pouty Crank; it is affecting Ashley in a totally different way.

Let me explain.

We are on our way back from the market this past weekend when Ashley looks at me and says, "I need to tell you something. But I need you not to get mad." Side note to all men: When you say, "don't be mad" before your next statement you are essentially providing the springboard to our rage, to which we then just have to decide at what level of rage the statement deserves. So of course I immediately get mad because I automatically assume he is having an illicit affair with... with who? That slutbag red head that helped bag our groceries (and apparently alot more)? She gave him double coupon points when it clearly wasn't allowed. I should have known. As I start mentally clawing those freckles off of her smug little face, Ashley goes on. "Since we have started this budget and have stopped eating out, I have lost 10 pounds." Suddenly it's not the redhead's face I am mentally clawing at (my apologies for the slutbag comment, I am sure you are a nice girl). I look at his sheepish expression. "And your point is?" I ask. "Well, my pants are not fitting anymore and I need to get a little more fat in my diet so I can keep some weight on." Of course. Why wouldn't he accidentally lose the weight that I literally devoted an entire challenge to last month just by cutting out a taco bell meal? Because he is a man, and that is precisely the reason that I should have been a lesbian... or a man.

Meanwhile, this is what my lunch is looking like these days... I wonder how much cash I need to allocate for a Prozac prescription?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 11: The Coupon, the Coconut, and Captain Clueless

Since introducing this Budget Challenge to our family, we have also been introduced to the Almighty Coupon. Come to our house on any given Sunday and you will hear the sounds of snipping and cutting as we browse excitedly through the paper for our favorite items. (P.S.- Southern Savers is my new best friend) (P.P.S.- When did we become our Grandparents?) In order to cut down on food expenses, I have fine-tuned a system in which I plan out every meal in detail so that I know exactly what to buy, how much to buy, and if I have a coupon for it. This system has worked so well that at the end of the week, we have precisely one meal left to cook before it's time to go to the store again. I am a machine.

But then something happened.

Last week, I was busy with work and Ashley took it upon himself to make the weekly trip to the grocery store. We have exactly $100 per week in cash to use toward groceries. I figured since he took it upon himself to go to the store, he must have planned everything out and I, for one, was impressed. He walks in proudly holding his grocery bags from not one, but two different grocery stores to redeem his coupons. Again, I was impressed. And then I started unpacking the groceries.

And these are some of the things I found:
2 packs of spagetti noodles.
Cilantro seasoning
2 boxes of Macaroni and Cheese (this would be a good time to mention we don't eat Mac'n cheese)
A huge sack of potatoes
Spray Butter

Here are some things that I DID NOT find:
Spagetti Sauce

I look up at him and casually ask, "Umm. How did you come up with this list, dear?" (Sidenote: In our relationship, "dear" is not a term of actual endearment)

"From my coupons." He responds blankly.

So you see, he just made it a two for one deal where the coupons were his shopping list. Makes total sense, right? And now we are eating Spagetti noodles... with Spray Butter and Cilantro. But what else should I have expected? Because afterall this is the same guy who brought home a Coconut the last time he was responsible for grocery shopping.

Day 10: 101 Ways to Piss Off Your Husband

Number 37: Blow your entire miscellaneous cash budget for the month on your Hair. He has always said he saw fireworks when he first saw me, he still does, but now it's for different reasons.
But damn, my hair looks good!

P.S.- My waist is not as small as it appears in this photo, but now I will forever angle the camera like this.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 7: Trail of (Blood, Sweat, and) Tears

As I write to you at this very moment, I am unable to bend my legs or walk without looking like I have had a questionable late-night rendevous. Why? You ask. Let me start from the beginning.
Since it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and we are cutting back on our spending habits, we decided to get creative and go old school by having a family picnic at the park. So we packed up Rinks, Buddy Lee, and some sandwiches and headed off to a day of family bliss. We had a wonderful lunch and were so proud of ourselves for being so thrifty that we thought, Why not stretch out our family fun and go on a stroll on one of the trails? So we packed up Rinks in the stroller and Buddy Lee on the leash and off to the woods we go. You might even say we had a pep in our step, enjoying our scenery, appreciating the simple things in life that money can't buy. Sure, there were hills that were at least 45 degree angles, but I was welcoming the challenge since I am still trying to shrink my ass.
We are having great conversation along the way, so good in fact that we don't realize that we have been walking for an hour. We look and see that we have walked almost 3 miles. Hmmm? Here is a timestamped look at how the rest of the "stroll" that started at 1:30pm went...
2:15pm, Mile 4: We casually start to wonder when this trail is going to end, surely anytime now, right?
2:33pm, Mile 5: We look at each other nervously as there is clearly no end in sight anytime soon, but neither one of us wants to admit it, so we say something about needing some exercise and laugh uncomfortably.
2:48pm, Mile 6: Rinks has practically spent a full day of daycare- all in his stroller- as he has already played, napped, eaten lunch AND a snack and then is back to sleep again.
3:05pm, Mile 7: Ashley at this point starts getting Walker's Delirium, as I have now named it, and starts ranting on about how the trees are really alive and naming off flowers that look like Trumpets.
3:23pm, Mile 8: My legs are in the third realm of hell so I start pleading to God that if he would miraculously send a cab then I will never swear again (He didn't, so f*ck that).
3:41pm, Mile 9: Ashley starts negotiating who would be the first to be sacrificed for food so the rest of us could survive (Buddy Lee was the unanimous vote).
4:04pm, Mile 10: Like a veil unfolding from the heavens, we see civilization sprawling out before us and we practically start hugging and crying. But since we couldn't really move at that point, we just gave each other a knowing smile because when nature calls again, we will be heading straight to the nearest Chili's.

Rinks at Mile 6, during his SECOND nap.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day 2: Yes, God?

Call it coincidence or call it the Fateful Hand of NBC directly playing into my life, but when I turned on my television tonight and saw Suze Orman and her shoulder pads on "The Biggest Loser" talking about how finances are directly related to your waist size I thought, "Good God, her teeth are glowing" and then I thought, "How appropriate that NBC is tailoring their shows to my Blog." (I am still waiting on my check, NBC)

Regardless, when Suze Shoulder Pads started talking about how spending habits and dieting habits are usually synonymous I got to thinking of my own habits and I must say, there is truth to this. I love an easy fix. It is my fantasy that the "Staples Easy Button" will become a reality in the future because in any situation, that is what I am looking for. When it comes to dieting, I am looking for the quickest, easiest way to get the fastest results with minimum effort. Diet pill? Yes, please. Magic Juice Drink with Green Tea? I'll take two, please. (In case all of you blog police are investigating, I did not take anything in my previous challenge, hence all the bitching the entire way through) Likewise, when it comes to my finances I am the same way. Not enough money? I'll hustle to make more. Or even better, just charge it. I was amazed when comparing the two how my behavior and attitude were one in the same about both subjects. This was truly an A-Ha moment, and all thanks to ole' Suze and her questionably pearly whites.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Day 1: The Money Pit Challenge

Well as they say, When it Rains it Pours... And three weeks ago, when I decided to use the next challenge to turn around my finances, the Almighty must have decided to have a laugh while squatting down and taking a hot steaming shit on my bank account. First it was through my brakes, which apparently were all but existent. Then it was the air conditioner in our house that the handy man described as "a doozy" (this is never a good thing). And finally, to put the corn kernel on top, the hospital sent me a nice little note explaining that my insurance company doesn't want to pay for my labor and delivery.


So what's a girl to do? She polishes off a bottle of wine and then makes a plan. Welcome to my plan.
Here is the reason for this challenge (besides the obvious stated above), I feel that although a swollen bank account can by no means make you happy, it can certainly make you free. And by that I mean freedom to pursue dreams, freedom from stress that comes from knowing you don't truly own anything you have, and freedom from spinning your wheels with working a job to pay the bills, while spending more because you need retail therapy from your job. Ultimately, I am not looking to get rich (but if the Spirit leads you to send me money, follow it!) but more importantly to live free from debt and financial stress. So first things first, I must use the B-word. That's right, Budget. This word is likened to the F-word in my house and we have avoided saying it for years because truthfully neither me nor my husband are math wizards (Understatement: There are 5th graders that could smoke us in a Math Challenge) and looking at a spreadsheet gives me hives. But now is the time to change this, and a budget must be made. So we are taking the Dave Ramsey route and doing the "envelope system" where we pay all of the fixed bills through our bank account and take out a set amount of cash for all non-fixed items (i.e. Grocery, entertainment, and misc.). We will start our $1,000 emergency fund and then start snowballing all of our payments to debt smallest to largest. Sure, this sounds easy enough on paper, but when Ashley told me tonight that my hair appointment will have to come out of the miscellaneous cash account which will all but deplete it for the month, I had a small panic attack. In the words of my wise handy man, this should be a doozy.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Next up to bat: The Money Pit

Hold on to your panties boys and girls because coming up next is the change that we all could take part in these days. It's the Money Pit. This 60-day financial turn around will address my Nicolas Cage spending habits and the search for what I am really trying to buy. Here's a hint, it's not on the shelves at Macy's. I am going to officially start this on Monday April 12th, right after I go on a spending binge this weekend like Michael Jackson at a Toys-R-Us. Awww... too soon?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Big Pimpin'

What happens when you leave your 7 month old son with your single sister on Spring Break?


I got a picture text from my swingin' sis that read, "Spring Break Pole Dancing!"