November 21, 2010 by Leah
About a week into our budget for this month, Aaron said, “being on a budget makes me feel poor.” I said, “it makes me feel secure.” A week after that, I was fantasizing about being taken out to dinner by someone wealthy so I could order whatever I wanted including expensive wine. Around the same time, Aaron had to work a Saturday for which he got paid overtime, so we agreed to split the proceeds of this happy circumstance into more “mad money” for each of us. He purchased Red Dead Redemption (an Xbox game). Mine will probably be allocated to what I’ve overspent on food for the month.
I say “probably” because neither of us have been paragons of moderation or restriction in the past week or so. (E.g. Aaron raised no objection when I decided to blow $17 on a pound of black cod today instead of our usual $14 for two pounds of seafood – $7 on snapper, $7 on clams or mussels. In our defense, we were late and there were no shellfish left except scallops, for $23 per pound.) For my part, I think attempting to budget and diet at the same time (which is really just more budgeting, except with calories instead of currency) is overwhelming and makes me want to eat, drink, and spend to excess because I’m ornery in the face of limitations, even when I’m the one who imposed them. Our commitment to not buying meat from factory farms and eating whole, local foods as much as possible is really more than enough to think about on the diet front. (Recent failures on the whole-and-local front include purchases of chips, salsa, and green tea ice cream. I can’t decide whether or not to feel guilty about goat cheese.)
The food budgeting was going well, apart from the bulk section debacle. Then I got word, the day before I was supposed to pick up my November order from the grass fed beef CSA, that the November drop off was cancelled, and would be included with the December order. On one hand, this was cool as it meant we had $85 more food dollars to spend without going over budget. On the other hand, it meant scrambling for protein sources and deciding how to allocate the double beef expenditure we’ll have in December (which actually will be well-timed as we will be entertaining more than usual throughout the holidays).
The upshot of no beef in November seems to be that we will have purchased six dozen eggs by the end of the month. We’re also heading out of town on Wednesday to sponge off (celebrate with?) relatives for four days, which is saving us from having to buy another chicken. Not that I mind roasting a chicken a week since they go so far (our last chicken provided dinner for us and the neighbors, a couple of quarts of stock, a pizza, and a casserole with broccoli and barley).
I’m bummed that our produce CSA box was pushed from November to December, as I still seem to be spending a lot on fruits and vegetables (though we’ve eaten or used everything but a few wilted lettuce leaves and scraps from things that don’t make good stock). We have had a few garden tomatoes and a bell pepper so far, thanks to my buying them on plants instead of as seeds. The garden we planted from seed at the beginning of September isn’t anywhere near producing edibles. I was so excited about the moderate temperatures around here I totally overlooked the effect light has on plants (apologies to my high school biology teachers and my Alaskan childhood in general). It gets dark surprisingly early even as far south as we are. Must be the northern hemisphere thing. Anyway, plant growth is severely retarded for the foreseeable future.
We have definitely made changes in other, non-food-related areas. E.g. Aaron thought long and hard about his video game purchase (I was shocked when he didn’t come home with Call of Duty: Black Ops). I informed Aaron today that I haven’t used shampoo and conditioner in two weeks (I’ve replaced them with baking soda and cider vinegar solutions) and he was shocked and said it didn’t seem to be having any adverse effect. Duke is eating and loving food that is about half the price of his old food, but seems to have pretty much the same ingredients. The weather has gotten cool just as some of my favorite pieces of clothing are starting to look a little threadbare, which is great as I can use my winter wardrobe. (Theoretically this would give me time to save for new clothes before spring, and I suppose I should try hard to do this as I’m down to one pair of jeans I can wear in public thanks to my recent Wednesdays with Habitat for Humanity. Tar and paint just don’t wash out of denim.)
I read articles and other blogs about how all other people have to do to stay on track is to remind themselves of their larger goals. This makes me want to hit someone. Saving for a house or something would be cool, but Aaron and I seem to be in a state of inertia when it comes to the budget, because how fun is it to pay off student loans? Hmm, maybe I’ll start planning some kind of reward for us when this finally happens. Like a trip. Or at least a bottle of nice champagne. Even if I never get a job (which is how I’m currently feeling), if we keep repaying at the rate we’re paying, we’re looking at a beautiful net zero in… just over four years. Oh, man, that’s a long time for someone whose fertility is declining by the second.