Well, January 2010 hasn’t been a good financial start. We realized today that it will take some shuffling and scrimping to get by this month. A few things collided at once that made this a perfect storm. I was laid off at the end of December and my boss’ mother passed away, which made it very awkward to send my final invoice (“I’m so sorry for your loss… and you owe me money.” Um, no.) Thomas had no extra income from weddings or funerals, which is so unusual that I can’t find a month in the last year or two when he didn’t have at least one or the other.
We received both our hydro/water and gas bill today. This our first year in a house, any house and we’re still adjusting to the fluctuating utilities. The gas bill was about 25% higher than last month, but it is getting colder and since we finished renovating more rooms, we’re using more house. The big shock was our hydro/water bill, which increased over 50% from the last two billing periods. We did receive a washing machine in mid-November and we had a very leaky tub faucet until early January, which may explain the water bill. The huge jump in hydro we’re still trying to work out.
But the biggest budget snag was entirely our fault. The church needed to buy something at the Membership Big Box Store Which Shall Not Be Named, but they don’t have a membership. We used mine, but when we got to the cashier, the person I was with didn’t realize that they don’t take credit cards. I used my debit card for a purchase of about $380, which was immediately repaid after we left the store. In cash. Which we didn’t return to our bank account right away.
We went about our lives and used the cash, instead of debit cards for the groceries, the quick stops here and there. For the most part, the money wasn’t spent on anything that we wouldn’t be buying anyway. It just went faster. Big lesson learned.
So here we are 17 days from pay day and my household budget and any chance at adding to our savings is blown as we cover the bills. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have the storage space of a pantry but I do have a few things that I stocked up on when they were on sale and am planning meals for the next two weeks or so using up whatever we have.
It’s not a good feeling starting the year this way. It did underline the importance of making ourselves a bigger cushion in the budget, though. I’ll turn off the lights and at Thomas’ suggestion, get the cat a treadmill and hook it up to a generator.