So, life has continued, time has kept flowing, while I’ve been locked out of this little blog.
We’re still in a pandemic… maybe? Is it endemic yet? I can’t keep up and I’m so fried. Does everything seem to be slipping and getting worse? All this awful hateful stuff going on in the world, from invasions/war, to attacks on LGBTQ+ and women’s rights, to all the endless shootings and mass shootings. Life is freaking stressful.
And inflation. Skyrocketing inflation in some sectors. Used car prices are freaking SHOCKING. It’s inane, and you can’t get a freaking loan for one unless your credit is perfect. Seriously, my friend is currently so screwed right now by this. And Housing. Can we talk about housing prices? House or apartment if you are hunting right now you are pretty damn screwed. There is a 600 sq. ft. apartment with 1 bed, 1 bath in my town for $950/month… that is a STEAL these days! It’s outrageous at the same time. 600 sq. ft. is very small. It is suitable only for a single person or a couple and nearly $1,000/month. wtf.
We all know gas prices are up, $5/gallon at least, it’s impacting the way my family lives. We bought our house in a rural town, about 30 minutes commute to work for all but one of us, (who can walk to work) and gas prices are just murder right now. Especially for my eldest who makes like $14/hour. (and that’s with a recent raise!!!) She probably loses around $10/day of that to gas to and from work, I mean, we ALL do but she is hardest hit. Our son rides in with my husband and husband makes decent money, I’m taking a hit for sure but not as bad as my eldest. We’ve got other struggles, of course, medical care, medicine, etc etc. Grocery prices are climbing. It all SUCKS.
So, I’ve been working on actually budgeting, something that makes me uncomfortable. Budget to me means limits, limitations that I might crash up against and feel… stifled or something. It goes against my free-spirited way of doing things. I prefer to be free-range. I haven’t laid out a lot of actual limits for specific things because for some things we’re just not in control. Like the electric bill, for example, I have to pay what they charge us. I’m working on driving down our usage instead of setting an amount. That’s what I’m doing with fuel for our cars too, just trying to minimize driving. Prescriptions are picked up on the way to or from work. Thrift shop visits, and any other shopping are also added to other trips. I am planning my routes so I hit things in logical order with no back-tracking. I couldn’t bring myself to set an amount for groceries. I’m not going to have us going hungry or anything. I have goals for the grocery bills and I’m aiming for them. I have gotten our costs down somewhat already so I guess it’s a win.
What I have set limits on, solid enforceable limits, are take-out, entertainment and gifts. I also started a fund for vacations/travel, (which we do so little that we’ve never considered tracking it) just to have it as a limit on what can be spent IF we ever get to travel anywhere. So there is an amount set for take-out (and the other things)for each month, we track that amount, it can accumulate month to month but it cannot be overdrawn. When it’s gone it’s gone and we need to deal with it. Yeah, it’s an experiment for sure, and I hope it goes well and keeps us on an even keel. I’m also keeping a list of needed items for thrift shopping/other shopping. Like work shirts for my husband and son, and the sizes and preferences, I also have a limit on what I can spend on this stuff. Credit cards are dangerous so I am not going to spend more than we can pay. So, limits, fun stuff. Hopefully it won’t make us feel deprived. Cuts have to be made.
Keeping the food budget down is tricky but doable. I’m growing a little bit of food now, we have our pre-paid farm-share to lean on June-November, and pasta and rice are pretty cheap. I am being careful with buying things like meat, nuts, and other expensive things. Cutting out junk-food is huge, of course. I’m discontinuing buying chips, soda, cookies and other junk, still keeping crackers for the moment. But we can pop some popcorn instead of chips and have homemade iced tea instead of soda. More work but less money and better for us. Win-win.
I’ve got this idea that we need to “use what we have” in a lot of areas. Like let’s play the board games, card games, video games and RPGs we already own. Let’s read the books we have and use the library for more books and movies because it’s FREE. Let’s dig into our stashes of art supplies, fiber, and recycleable bits and bobs for projects. I mean, sometimes, we might actually need to pick up an item or 2 but probably a lot, lot less than we currently do. It’s a great principle from the old Tightwad Gazette; “First, go to your stash and see what you can make from what you already have. Do not spend money if you don’t have to.” Well, that’s where we’re at right now.