Things Are Looking Up

This morning I woke up to my front tooth breaking. Or would it be better to phrase it, “My front tooth broke and I woke up.” It is a chicken/egg scenario where I think the tooth woke me up when it broke but I can’t be sure. It’s the capped portion of the front tooth so I hope I can call the dentist and just have that fixed up this week sometime since I only got it done a couple few weeks ago. Since I’m not a pro skateboarder it is obviously not my fault and I shouldn’t have to pay for it to be fixed. Since I got my whole mouthful of fillings from her I have extremely sensitive teeth and can’t chew gum because my bottom tooth hits the back of my (now-broken) top tooth so…maybe I can get that fixed in the process.

We have been dealing with the high temps this weekend with a combination of not being home, two window air conditioning units, and fans. I’m a little worried to see the electric bill but I’m more worried I’ll melt. I turn the kid’s air off at night and ours is set o 70 degrees so it only goes on when the temp of the room drops past 70 degrees. It’s not on as much as I thought it would be. I could sleep if it were just the room at night being 70-ish but that humidity is what kills me.

Humidity is not my friend.

Yesterday we went to the local national park for National Get Outdoors Day. The kids made tie dye t-shirts (I did, too!) and learned about watershed and how to upcycle old CDs into animals with the help of glue dots, googly eyes, and construction paper. They played in canoes and tried to guess the bird call. It was a really fun day and (like I always do) I wished I was more outdoors-friendly so I could take them on hikes. I have a three hour limit for direct sunlight and I just start to wilt and shrink and get faint.

We spent zero dollars on this super fun activity beyond the gas it took to get there and back. Today we’re going out of state to visit family and it, too, will be a day that only costs the gas to get to and from their home.

It feels like we might be done hemorrhaging money! I’m going to use this weekend as a springboard to keep the momentum of no spending going.

I hope the dentist is available this week to fix this tooth. I hate my front tooth being all jacked up.

Is Summer Going Great for Everyone but Me?

how-we-spent-it-workmans-comp

If I don’t get a good night’s sleep soon I may go completely mad.

I don’t know if that will look any different than I do on a day-to-day basis. For all I know I’ve always been mad.

The budget this week is both good and bad. I finally paid off the Macy’s card! I did it by dipping into the rent savings account.. So not my most mature move but I’m hoping it helps me sleep tonight.

I also have this amazing plan where all of the charges from the dentist and optometrist I put on that 21 months no interest card would be paid off if I just need $170 payment every month. I messed that up by making the minimum payment of $40 and putting the rest of the money from the paycheck after groceries, gas, etc. into a hidden category just in case other expenses for the girls come up before the next paycheck comes in.

I know the reason I can’t sleep is because I’m overwhelmed with stress over money. I know I’m spending too much but I don’t know if that’s a bad thing I don’t know if I’m spending money in the right ways but I don’t know what the right ways are. Everyone says I’m supposed to be finding balance, but what does balance even mean?

Tomorrow we’re going to a free event at the park district because I’m also trying to do things with the kids that don’t cost any money. I guess my biggest problem is I never thought summer was going to be an issue financially. It sounds stupid even writing that. Of course summer was going to be more financially draining! The kids are here! They want things like breakfast and lunch.

I did send them out once to the park a quarter block away for the town’s “free lunch for all the kids” program. They loved it. I need to set a weekday alarm to remind myself to send them more often.

Mr. Brickie supported my decisions with regard to paying off the Macy’s card with rent savings. I want to be happy but I think he would support anything if it would stop my hollow-eyed muttering during the day. Not sleeping makes me mutter. I’m not sure why. I think it’s because I’m trying not to forget anything but I’m not going to lie, it’s a little creepy.

Here are the current numbers. No Macy’s (hooray!) but still some big balances on the remaining two cards.

I’m not sure if I feel better or not but I don’t cringe as hard when I look at the budget. I feel confident I can refill that savings category. The Macy’s slog felt way more long-lasting.

How We Spent It:
$721.30 incoming from workman’s comp
$82.94 Net10 (2 cell phones)
$40.00 Citi payment
$95.84 Buffer refill because I spent a lot last week on athletic shorts for volleyball and volleyball camp.
$270.00 Groceries ($150), Gas ($20), Tolls ($40), Stuff I forgot but oh I need cash for ($60)
$232.52 Officially stashed in a way-down-in-the-budget category in case I need it but most likely it’s going right back into rent savings. I would put it there now but I’ve withdrawn three times from savings this month and I hate even getting close to 6 withdrawals because I don’t want all my savings accounts shut down.

The numbers look like this: 2016-6-10 ynab

The Emergency fund needs to be at $1000 and the $2250 Rent Savings should (by the end of this month) be at $790.86. I think I can get the Rent Savings back to its former glory by the end of the month. I’m certainly going to try.

Summer is killing me financially. I have to get it under control.

I Keep Spending…and Spending…

Is it a bad life decision to drain my emergency fund to pay for summer activities? Yes!

Am I doing it anyway? Yes!

I’m not sure why. I think it’s primarily because I worry I’m not a good enough parent. They aren’t over-scheduled and they will have 17 unscheduled days in August to just veg and read and do some worksheets before school begins but June and July have something or another every day for an hour here or an hour there. There are “better” camps I would like to send them to. There are math camps and specialty camps and electrical engineering camps I can’t send them to and it hurts my heart. I want so much for them. I want them to try everything before having to do the “adult thing” and choose something to specialize in the rest of their lives. I don’t want them to drift, like I do, unattached to any particular specialty at all. (I do love math, but a 40 year old who’s good at math is great for helping kids with homework and not much else unless you’ve already been specializing beyond that point, I think.) So they are swimming, learning tennis, attending a day camp for dance, one is in a summer volleyball league, two are going to overnight week-long camps, and two might be attending a volleyball day camp. It’s a hell of a list.

Plus my oldest decided she wanted to volunteer at the library. I couldn’t be happier and I told Mr. Brickie, “If she felt over-scheduled, she probably wouldn’t have added something else on.” I mean there are some kids who would and I don’t think she’s one of them but maybe she is and I don’t know it. They still have enough time to do chores, do a couple workbook pages a day, and fit in screen time so that doesn’t feel like a lot. I guess you never know until you’re looking back.

Let’s stop with that train of thought for now. It’s a rabbit hole I may never escape. Let’s talk about credit cards!

I withdrew the money I had been saving in my Digit account ($208.54) and put it toward the Macy’s card. I’m done. I don’t want to think about it, I don’t want to talk about it, I want that card paid off and out of my life. I love my bed and it was absolutely the right decision to put it on the card but it needs to not be part of my life anymore. After the $208.54 payment the balance is $371.61 and between some creative accounting (putting off a bill until the fifth week of this month) and raiding the rest of my emergency fund, I’ll pay that off this Thursday and will feel like I accomplished something.

I haven’t had a financial win in a while and I think paying off Macy’s is just what I need to get me back on track and focused again.

Mr. Brickie is in physical therapy twice a week and does exercises that hurt like hell every day. He just wants to go back to work and I feel so bad for him because there is nothing I can do to help other than be supportive and tell him, “You can do it!” Which usually is fine but sometimes makes him glare at me because it hurts and I’m being super chipper and I’d glare at me sometimes, too.

Other than kid events and physical therapy it’s like our lives are on hold. We don’t go out, we don’t do much, we try not to spend money. It’s beyond boring.

OH OH OH OH OH I ALMOST FORGOT!!!

I did get new glasses. I mean, I didn’t GET them yet, I ordered them and they’re being made right now and I’ll be able to pick them up sometime in the next week when they’re ready. It seems that since I’m getting all old and craggy my eyes are getting more dense so my glasses are a little bit TOO powerful. It’s the reason I haven’t been reading books. My close vision is a mess because of my glasses. So when I get the new glasses I can read again!

I had seriously started to believe I was just giving up on life because reading is such a fundamental part of who I am and I pick up a book and it just feels like too much effort and it makes me so sad but now I know it wasn’t me, it was my glasses, and I’ll be able to read again soon!

Also, I did something I’ve never done before in the name of not messing up my eyes as I get even older. I ordered prescription sunglasses. I don’t wear contacts so saying I can just wear contacts and normal sunglasses is a pipe dream. In order to keep my eyes cataract-free as long as possible I neeeeed sunglasses. So I ordered some. They’re amazing. I hope the lenses are dark enough.

That being said my first pair of glasses were mostly covered by insurance (they’re never entirely covered unless I opt for such thick frames my eyes look giant and distorted) and the sunglasses were 30% off. It was still expensive at right around $600 for both complete pairs, but I won’t need glasses again for years and if the regular pair breaks I have my current ones as backup and we should be in a better position next year for glasses buying (I hope!) so maybe I can get a pair a year just because they’re cute and I can have options.

Wouldn’t that be dreamy?

So I’m afraid I’m ruining my kids because of the camps they are (and are not) in. I spent a bunch of money on glasses. I’m paying off the Macy’s card this Thursday (finally) even though it might not be the wise financial choice.

This has been my week. How is yours going?

I seriously cannot wait until Thursday when I can do the, “No more Macy’s” happy dance!

How We Spent It 5/26/2016

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Today another workman’s comp check cleared ($721.30) and it went to the usual suspects:

Groceries/Gas/Tolls/Etc. $270
Insurance Savings $120
Emergency Fund Refill $240.48
Buffer Refill $90.82

First I would like to point out something I think is super positive. Our lifestyle/bills and income have done some criss-cross in the graph of personal finance where the last check of the month only goes toward a savings account (so we can pay insurance in full and avoid extra charges for making payments) and that’s it. We are aaaaaaaalmost able to live on three checks out of the month. In my fantasy life, I pay all the bills with one check because it’s okay to have dreams. In reality, if I could pay the bills with two checks I’d be over-the-moon excited. Hell, I’m excited now. Celebrate the small things because they add up to the big things.

I tapped into the emergency fund last week for the girls to have tennis lessons and volleyball lessons over the summer. It was $490.40 and it hurt to take that out of the emergency fund. I feel really lucky we are in a position where even though my husband is injured we can pay for summer activities. Last summer the only thing we could afford was the $88 for one kid to go to a week of camp. It helps mightily not having a $500 car payment anymore (I know that was so dumb, I’m so happy it’s behind us.) There is still an outlay of $270 coming up for swimming lessons, too, which is why I’m replenishing the emergency fund instead of paying down debt.

I’m pretty sure it’s not financially smart to choose kid’s activities over paying off debt. I’m sorry. I don’t even know if I’m apologizing to you, to me, or to the universe but I feel like an apology is somehow in order. An apology for not being committed enough, for not being “nose to the grindstone” enough. For feeling like it’s not the smart decision but still going ahead and doing it because it’s what I want for the kids.

It feels like a very selfish decision.

I also had to spend $90.82 to refill the buffer we keep in the checking account to bring it back up to $100. I took out $10 for one field trip, $10 for another field trip, $20 for the 5th grader to take with her on the field trip so she can play games, eat awful snack bar food, and ride go karts. There were also two birthday parties so the gifts for those added up to another $50. (We normally don’t spend that much on presents. One was a Nerf gun party so we had to buy a Nerf gun for our daughter to take with as well. Well, we didn’t HAVE to, we chose to because we WANTED to let her participate fully in the party.) See, again, selfish in the moment but not really best for the long-term.

Finances were so cut-and-dry when there wasn’t enough. Decisions were easier because there were way less options. Now everything feels like a big ol’ grey area. I’m not good with gray areas because I don’t have a lot of practice dealing with them.

Ugh.

My “perfect budget” for June has the emergency fund filled and the Macy’s card $100 away from being paid off. I am going to do my best to stick to the damn script and follow the budget! I would love to know the first week of July I could really, finally get rid of the Macy’s card balance. I didn’t expect it to take so long to pay off (do we ever?) but I can’t say I’ve regretted the new bed once. I’ll still be paying it off way before the 12-month no-interest financing ends (November) so at least I’ll pay it off fast enough I won’t be punished with interest charges.

I figure if I have trouble sleeping at night because I wasted money, at least I’ll feel like I did right by the kids and wasted money. Or something. That rings kind of hollow.

Really, I swore to myself I wouldn’t expand my lifestyle to match his income in order to be in a good position later in life. I don’t know, though, because his worker’s comp is 66% of his actual pay and I should still have some left to pay down debt so we are technically still living below our means. How much lower below your means are you supposed to live to be doing it right?

I’m going to spend the whole darn day half confused. Probably the next few months, if we’re being honest, because budgeting when you’re not talking about bare bones survival is not something I’m good at.

2016-5-26 ynab

Here are the raw numbers in the accounts. The Citi Diamond card is the dentist bill. I have it set up on a $140/mo. payment plan to pay off before the 21-month interest free offer expires. I’m sure between paying down debt and tax returns it will be paid off before then but I’m a very “hope for the best, plan for the worst” kind of person so even if I can’t pay it off in bulk, at least I won’t pay interest!

How We Spent It 5/16/2016

how-we-spent-it-workmans-comp

I meant to post this sooner. How can time move so slow AND so fast?

I went to see a long-time family friend graduate college and Mr. Brickie forgot to check the mail. That means his check didn’t get deposited until after 8pm on Thursday so it wasn’t available until today. Monday. Sometimes I wonder if he isn’t trying to kill me.

Paying bills is pretty much the only self-care we can afford right now. It keeps me calm, makes me feel like I’m on track, and no matter how bad he feels for not depositing the check on time it doesn’t take away that I had to resort to plan B to get that taken care of.

Like, just do your very, very small part. I swear it only entails getting off the couch, like, once.

So, today is Monday and the check is cleared. What I did last week so I could pay bills and not freak out was move the amount of his check ($721.30) from the Emergency Fund to the checking account and then today when it cleared I just moved that amount back into the emergency fund.

Thank goodness I had the emergency fund back up to $1000 or it wouldn’t have been nearly as easy. Also, there is a part of me that thinks with such an easy fix maybe I shouldn’t be frustrated at my (BROKEN) husband. Then I think no, because if I was fine with that mistake I’m sure he’d find a way to double down and make more interesting mistakes.

I could see him eventually being that guy who comes home out of the blue with a boat and a giant grin and yells, “Surprise!” like a boat is a thing that you do that with.

Violence would ensue.

I paid the car payment ($285.93) and the first installment of my 21-month dental bill ($125). The rest went to fill the buffer (aka overspending fund) from last week and grocery money and some of it was wasted gloriously when we took the whole family to local amateur wrestling. At $10 a head, local wrestling is expensive to take a family of five to go see. It is, however, worth every penny in entertainment value and we all needed a night out where we could hoot and holler with reckless abandon.

So here is where we stand on all the accounts. The Citi Diamond Preferred is nothing but dental work, which will have one more charge added tomorrow when I have my final appointment for the right hand side of my face. The reason the Discover

2016-5-16 ynab
The Mr. has his next follow up appointment this Wednesday and I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m hoping they take the stitches from surgery out because he’s being all crabby due to itching and general discomfort of the stitches, which usually means it’s time for them to come out. I am not a medical expert so whatever I say about anything remotely medical, disregard it outright. Thank you.
I’m also hoping his check comes on Wednesday like it did the first two times instead of Thursday like it did last time. It seems like it’s not a big difference (and really, I know it’s not) but I like paying bills on a Thursday because that’s when he got paid when he was working and it’s soothing because it reminds me he’s going to go back to work and this isn’t my “forever life” right now.

Ugh. After going to the dentist on Tuesday, the final bill came out to a bajillion dollars and my new 20-month payment to pay it off before the interest-free thing expires is $140. After $2500 in insurance coverage. My mouth was a mess. (On the bright side, from everything I’ve read online and asked my friends offline I got a good price for all I had done!) Now I just get quarterly cleanings so this was a one-off expense.

I’m also considering selling plasma to reduce debt and/or pay for summer activities. I’ll let you know how that goes.

I’m seriously trying to look on the bright side. See you Thursday (or Friday) with another How We Spent It!

Staying Busy and Under Budget

There won’t be any tips or tricks on how to live with someone who is injured in this post because I’m struggling. He’s struggling. The kids are struggling. We’re all antsy and tired and stressed out. We are under each other’s feet. Slowly, we are learning ways to get out from under each other though so I guess that’s a start. I send him out to do errands because he can drive fine with one hand as long as he doesn’t do too much in a day. Errands make him feel like he has a purpose so he’s less crabby. He went on a walkabout last week and even though I was really worried because he was gone a few hours, when he came back he was in a much better mood.

mr brickie walkabout

I spend time in other rooms. It’s my therapy. He can watch TV and I’ll hide out in the kitchen….

clean kitchen

Or I’ll spend a few extra minutes in the bathroom……

clean tiny bathroom

 

Everything is clean and sanitized and if you look closely, yeah, even the sides of the toilet are clean. I’m doing my best to just…be productive. My computer is here in the living room and that’s why I haven’t updated. I try to type but there is no peace and quiet to collect my thoughts. The reason I have a minute to write this is he’s at Menards replacing the sink sprayer because I broke ours trying to take the limiter out (spoiler alert: It wasn’t the limiter. Oops.)

Mr. Brickie’s next appointment isn’t until the 18th. He’s trying to wean himself off the pain pills because his quality of sleep is awful on them. He’s doing good. I’m proud of him for even trying. He’s really being a champ and I don’t have any real complaints. It’s a stressful situation and he wants to be working and I want him to be working.

On the very, very bright side his workman’s comp checks are coming in regularly so far. We haven’t had any problems with the claim adjuster, the insurance company, his company he was working for when he got hurt, or the union. Everyone is being kind and helpful. We are still keeping detailed notes. The amount he gets paid is what he got paid when he was at 60% so we are struggling but making it, which is fine by me.

Okay, let’s have a really real honest moment though….it’s NOT FINE. He finally got the promotion where I could breathe. His paycheck was enough plus we could pay down debt a little. There was just a little bit extra. The noose finally loosened and we breathed. REALLY BREATHED. For probably the first time in years and now this. It’s killing me inside. It’s killing HIM inside. We are fucking gutted over it emotionally.

But then we remind ourselves how much worse it could have been, how lucky we are, all the things that you have to say so you don’t just lay in a puddle of sadz on the floor.

It doesn’t put us behind in terms of bills or our timeline for life. I mean, it does put him back a little toward his next promotion, because every week he doesn’t work is 40 hours he’s not getting credit for working toward his next promotion…but there is nothing we can do about that so worrying about it doesn’t do any good.

So I cook and clean and try not to spend money and he watches wrestling and runs errands and tries not to go stir crazy.

It’s a holding pattern. We are holding on to “being okay” with the skin of our teeth. Determined not to sink down into the bad place with the bleak thoughts.

Surgery Day (After) – Part 2

Oh wow.

He’s in so much pain. They gave him norcos (Vicodin + acetaminophen) but they aren’t doing a damn thing. In conjunction with the top and bottom ice packs it feels like we’re reducing his pain by, like, 20%. He’s in SO MUCH PAIN.

I’m scared but trying to remain calm because:
A) No one else is going to remain calm.
B) The doctor sees him at 11am and maybe he can help.
C) I don’t have any more energy for freaking out.

So we are here and he is suffering and it sucks.

I slept last night but woke up every time he whimpered, called out, or moved in his sleep.

Thank goodness it’s Friday. The kids are going to go feral this weekend because we’re all just going to hunker down and get through it.

Or try.

Thank you for all your kind wishes. We will get through this.

Surgery Day – Part 1

Surgery Day!

I’m so nervous I could … oh, hey, I have pills for this. One sec.

Okay. I should feel better in about 15 minutes or so. I used to have a prescription for klonopin and I didn’t use it that often but kept refilling the scripts so even though they’re on lockdown now (I need to find a pain management specialist locally) I have backup pills to take in times of great anxiety.

You know, like when you’re afraid your husband won’t wake up from the general anesthetic. That kind of anxiety.

My kids are all optimists and seem fine with the situation. I’m obviously not freaking out in front of them but I have told them I’m worried because I’m trying to walk that line between honest and selfish. I can’t use them for comfort, they’re kids.

He is still asleep, which is good, because he can’t eat or drink anything (including water) before his surgery. I’m not going to nudge him until about five minutes before we have to leave if he can stay asleep.

We haven’t received the first worker’s comp check in the mail yet. It should get here today, I hope. We haven’t been spending a lot of money, either, except for going out yesterday together for dollar taco Wednesday at the local bar because the tacos are awesome and he wanted a beer and to get out of the house.

Having a broken wrist is making him cabin fever crazy. He’s a doer and this is not going well for him. But he’s not crabby, so I’m counting my blessings.

Good thoughts are appreciated. I’ll update later today after surgery.

Surgery Looms and Workman’s Comp Update

Mr. Brickie is going to need surgery. He will get a plate and pins in his wrist. I have no idea how long recovery time is for something like this. Google (so reliable!) tells me it will be anywhere from two to six months.

So there’s that.

The insurance adjuster called yesterday and let Mr. Brickie know that his first worker’s comp check had been cut and sent. She told him the amount but he worked on Monday so I don’t know if that’s a four day payment or a five day payment. He forgot to ask and doesn’t want to call back. Who am I to argue with a guy with a broken wrist?

So the payment she says is in the mail is $721.30. It’s enough to pay the bills, so I’m not complaining, but it does put us in a tight spot for the savings accounts. For example, the check that’s in the mail needs to go toward the car registration and to pay for both kids to go to summer camp. It was also supposed to have enough left over to pay into the rent savings $240/mo. but with groceries and stuff I’m not sure if that’s possible. We’ll see.

I’ve had to redo the budget for May entirely because the difference between his normal take home (barring rain days – which he had more than a few of in April) and this new reality is a drop of about $800/month.

Just when you think you’re going to start really getting ahead, right? It’s tough not to be angry and bitter about this. I’m trying to focus on the good things like the not dead part of the whole injury thing. I’m happy it’s just a wrist. I’m happy the surgeon feels good about Mr. Brickie getting back to work and how he feels the plate and pins will give him the strength he needs to do his job again. Everyone is very hopeful.

I just want to take a time-out from being responsible and thoughtful and punch a pillow and scream and just be scared for a minute. I can’t because the either the kids are around or Mr. Brickie is around. He feels so bad this happened (even though accidents happen to everyone and he honest to goodness didn’t do anything wrong) if I were to just let go and feel the scary feelings it would make him feel beyond awful. He doesn’t deserve that.

Yesterday on our way home from the doctor I started to cry in the car. He just looked all forlorn and started at his lap. That made me feel even worse so i started crying harder and he got a tissue out of my purse for me and just looked so damn sad I wanted to never cry again in my whole life because now my crying was making him feel like that. It’s just a mess.

So I’m forecasting the budget with the new weekly number (I hope it’s weekly. If it’s bi-weekly we are about to be in a world of hurt. I’m sure he said weekly.) and the one thought that keeps going through my head is, “Thank goodness we were living below his paycheck.” All the extra money from his promotion was going toward credit card debt payments. It’s a shame we bought a car, though, isn’t it? Ah well, at least the payment is only $285 and not the previous payment we had on the Mazda of $495.

I’ve been doing a pretty good job of not going back and judging past decisions. It wouldn’t do any good. It was an accident that could not be predicted by any budget.

Right now we are in stasis. I only called one family member about this yesterday. I only posted about it on FB because he did and I didn’t want to seem weird by not saying anything.

When faced with a real crisis I tend to go into hiding. I don’t want to talk about it until I have a plan for it. I want to curl up by myself in a dark room and figure out the puzzle so when I do talk to people it’s not just, “A bad thing happened.” I want the conversation to be, “A bad thing happened and here is how we are dealing with that bad thing.”

Lucky for me a friend offered to come with me on Thursday to wait while Mr. Brickie is in surgery. Until she offered I assumed I would be there alone with a book. I was so happy she offered to be there and bring coffee but still I almost said no because I didn’t want to be a bother.

I told that voice in my head to shut up and I said, “That would be great, thank you so much.”

I need to say yes more often.

Reducing the Grocery Budget for Fun and Advancement

middle-class-monday-header


I am not 100% sure if we are middle class, but I think we live like we are. We live in the Midwest (so we aren’t paying LA rent or Alaska milk prices) and my husband is in a union so health insurance is an included part of the package and not a deduction from his check or something we have to pay for separately. The “Middle Class Mondays” series covers things I’ve always felt would be different when we had what I consider “enough” money and how those experiences compare to how things used to be for us or how they compare to how things were when I was a child.


My husband has spent years fighting with me for an increase in the grocery budget.

Most of our marriage has been me insisting we can live on the food stamp amount and no more. He would want to get something crazy like yogurt and I would be so angry because I knew he bought it without telling me because I wouldn’t’ have let him get it otherwise no matter how much our kids love yogurt. He just wanted them to have something special.

There have been several times in our marriage when we did not receive food stamps and every time I kept the budget exactly the same saying, “It’s what we lived on then, we can live on it now.” Which was never entirely true but it felt true, you know? Numbers might not lie but I would just not look at them because it felt like it should be enough. Yes, I know now that’s some seriously faulty thinking.

I gave the Mr. $80 a week to spend and he asked me to raise it. Then we went to $100. Then we went to $120. Finally, he’s managed over years to convince me we absolutely must have $150/week for our family of five which is both a lot and hardly any depending on who you ask.

So after all his fighting and eventual success, when he came to me yesterday and said, “I think we can eat for $80/week by having the same thing once a week.” I was shocked but intrigued. Could he really do what I’ve been asking him to all this time now that he’s not feeling the pinch of money? Will he be able to do this thing by choice he’s never been able to do by necessity? While I was looking at him with what must have been a confused face he continued, “It’s only temporary so it’s a fun experiment and hey, it will let you pay off the Macy’s card faster if we can put up with Angel Hair and Veggie Mondays and Taco Tuesdays for the next few months.

So I said, “Let’s do it.”

I feel kind of gross, though, not gonna lie. To purposefully reduce the grocery budget while keeping veggies and health at the forefront isn’t something we could have done as easily when we were really poor. Here in Indiana our food stamp benefit when we received them was $407/month for our family of five and we were just angry all the time trying to make that work. Costco made it easier because we could do bulk meat one week and then fill in the rest of the week.

Now all that knowledge of where the cheapest veggies are and where to get the best cheap salsa (Aldi) so we can put the mild salsa on the tacos and not worry about separate tomatoes being bought and cut up once a week is being used to pay down debt. We can buy the meat up front at Costco and then separate it into baggies and freeze it for individual meals. He might not be wrong, we might be able to do this.

Part of my brain knows that is a smart long-term move but the other part of my brain feels that if I can afford better food and I choose not to buy it I am a bad, bad person … and even worse mother.

It’s a constant tug of war between what’s best for the family right now and what’s best for the family long term.

But right now we are choosing the long term and getting those credit cards off the table as fast as possible. If that means we have to repead meals once a week for the foreseeable future? So be it.

My 25lb. bag of rice says, “It’s GO time!”

This story illustrates how different it feels when paring back the grocery budget is a choice. We have both been forced to choose for pretty much the entire thirteen years of our marriage. We’ve never been able to just go to the store and buy stuff without thinking. I still can’t, even with a $150/week budget but to go down to $80 feels scary. I want so badly to get ahead and I don’t want to sacrifice my kids’ well being but they will absolutely be getting not quite as much of the good stuff they’ve been getting lately. When our credit cards are paid off I’ll make them