We live an rather unglamourous life. We don’t lust for fancy cars, clothes or the latest technology. We drive a 1999 car that was nearly given to us by a friend, most “new” clothes are gifts or come from discount or second hand stores and we were using Thomas’ ancient Playstation 2 as a DVD player for years until we bought one last year for $40.
When we moved to (mostly) one income, I did my best to reduce our expenses. The cable TV we had enjoyed for two years when we were both working was gone. Our phone service was cut back as much as we could, I changed our banking plan so we were charged a lower banking fee and I organized our home so that we would make good use of what we had.
There were expenses I couldn’t cut back. This is our first house, and a house that needs a lot of renovations so related costs are always popping up. We didn’t have a shovel, a lawn mower, a rake, garbage cans and other small but many house accessories. We are (and will be for a long time) paying off a student loan, which takes nearly a third of our monthly income. For the things that we have to buy, I do my best to find the best deal.
Starting the new year with the news that I wouldn’t have my part time job anymore, I got nervous. I know we could spend even less, but those cuts aren’t as easy to feel good about.
We eat out more than we should, not as often as we used to and certainly nowhere extravagant. But with our new budget, we shouldn’t eat out at all. We buy snacks impulsively. It would be cheaper to buy more snacks at the grocery store but while walking up and down the aisles, it’s hard to put chips in the cart when I’m nickel-and-diming my way through fruits and vegetables.
Realistically, food is that last expenses I can trim. In my budget, there are two categories that involve food: Household (which also includes laundry supplies, cleaning supplies and any other household items) and Day-to-Day (which includes eating out, cash withdrawals that I cannot otherwise track and entertainment). It is reducing food as a expense that makes me nervous. I enjoy small light meals but as anyone living with a man (or more so, God help you, a teenage boy) can attest, a bowl of rice with steamed vegetables isn’t considered a meal.
So that is where my challenge lies this month. How do I feed us well and cut the budget?