October 29, 2010 by Leah
We did it. After putting it off for almost a week (procrastination entirely my fault), we sat down and made a budget. Only as we were finishing did I realize it was, literally, a back-of-the-envelope calculation.
What we did wasn’t hard, but it was telling. Aaron had the rough amounts of almost all our regular bills stored in his head, as did I, and I think this was indicative that we were still in “single person” budget mode and thus not limiting individual spending like we need to be doing.
We had a few surprises during the process (like when we budgeted for savings twice), and left a few loose ends (the dog’s medical bills are a moving target and we have no idea when or how our back rent repayment schedule is going to work, e.g.). We also have a strategy and tactics to see us through November. The overall strategy is: we can charge regular bills and gas to credit cards, but for purchases like food, household goods, and play money for each of us, we will stuff the appropriate amount of cash into an envelope for that specific purpose and not refill it until December 1st. If either of us uses money from the food or household envelope, we have to put in a receipt or a note (the farmer’s market doesn’t give receipts) to show the other person where the money went.
Tactics will include: calling the vet to see if we can get the dog off this ridiculously expensive prescription food as his allergies are clearly of the inhaled variety; buying cheaper (but still sustainably caught) fish at the farmer’s market; moving the amount we have budgeted to save into savings at the beginning of each month; and… I don’t have more tactics other than those we are already using, like frequenting the library and avoiding stores. We’ve been eating some pretty weird stuff on Fridays and Saturdays since we go to the farmer’s market on Sundays and are attempting to avoid the industrial food system as much as possible. (Tomorrow’s menu is meatloaf with pumpkin custard.)
I am not exactly taking happily to the impending budget. Since there are a few days between now and November 1st, I’ve been spending money like mad. In my defense, when I showed the man at the running shop the shoes I had been wearing, he looked horrified at how worn they were, and my new glasses and contacts will be paid out of our HSA. In the coming months, though, if I want new running shoes, I’d better be saving up my “play money.” (I don’t know why I’m calling it that, it sounds ridiculous.) I guess at this point we just implement our strategy and see how it goes.