I have about five minutes to write this.
Laila’s gettin’ bored, Eli wants to scoot and hoot and hollar.
It’s Monday Morning Money Madness, and I am typing and baby wearing and bouncing to knock this one out. I’ve stuck a bottle in Eli’s mouth and he’s looking at me, a little confused.
I am not trying to be “super” anything here…just trying to get our lives in order ppl.
I didn’t know where to start on my new personal finance path. I have so much to learn. It’s intimidating. I e-mailed a few personal finance journos for advice. Haven’t heard back.
That’s OK. I decided to take a cold, hard look at food, based on, ya know, logic. It’s our top expense outside of housing, and housing-wise, we are doing well. While we rent, the cost of a cute little 40s home with a driveway, garage and backyard is only about 15 percent of our take home. Drug dealers and prostitutes usually stay down the way, so, we’re good there!
OK, it’s time to get real about food, wonderful food. And supplies – diapers, cleaning, etc (!) – which are mixed in since we shop at Target.
I thought we were doing well this month. Hey, I’d stopped pounding lattes and eating out!
I can stop patting myself on the back.
Before we attempt to set a food budget, I decided to ID waste. The money trail doesn’t lie. It tells a story.
Our story might be titled, “Oh, @#$%.”
I’d like to compare this month to previous months, but for now, I’ve only had the time to Excel spreadsheet our food spending in August.
It’s eye opening.
We are leaking cash on BS…and I thought we were doin OK!
Numbers don’t lie.
All told, we have spent $903 on food and household supplies, just since this month began.
Just with my initial breakdown, I’ve identified $230 of that number as wasteful — coffee (me $16), meals out (majority Mark’s hahahaha), beer budget (also Mark’s hahahahaha), etc. etc. But, we did go out for drinks last night, for the first time in, oh, 4 months, mind you. Still, that’s part of the $230.
I deliver that news with a bit of maniacal glee, because Mark has long been after me for my spending habits, which I do admit could use work. However, on that end, I’ve not bought anything “impulse” from Target or TJ Maxx for a good long while. Also, I buy at Target and TJ Maxx. He’s way ahead of me in terms of food/fun waste this month. One difference – he’s had at least three lunches out, while I’ve had none. He’s spent $25 on beer and I $10 on a bottle of wine – part of which was used for a home-cooked meal. We’re not boozehounds but we like good beer, wine, friends and fun! Mark’s hobby when I work late is to play football online with his friends and drink beers. It’s the next best thing to being there.
I can hear my best friend’s voice in my head:
“Julie, be nice.
I’ll try not to gloat. The reality is, we’re both on the same page: we want to do better. Be frugal on top of frugal. Save and learn to invest. That starts by identifying the problem. Staring at numbers and coming to the realization that a little coffee here, a little lunch there adds up over time.
So, for inspiration, I located this post, called
“Oprah’s wrong: You Don’t Deserve To Treat Yourself” by Emma, blogger at Wealthy Single Mommy.
The post is excellent, but it also led to the discovery of this compound savings calculator at Bankrate.com.
According to the calculator, if we instead took that cash and invested it, even in a low-return account at a financial institution, that $230 of waste per month would top $28,000 in 10 years.
Frankly, I live a busy life and I work really hard, and choices like a little coffee here or there are emotional. I’m tired. I work hard. I deserve it.
Nope, not true.
Queen O, you lied to me!
She does deserve it. Hey, O pulled in $77 million last year. She caused an Pretty-Woman-style international gaffe after a racist European decided she didn’t have the cash to throw at a $30K+ hand bag.
Au contraire motha@#$%^&!
O can pull stuff like that. She’s queen O.
I can drink free coffee at work, or pack a to-go mug, until we get our lives in better order.
The numbers don’t lie.
We don’t need to live like straight edgers, but our food spending habits need to change. Maybe it’s time to forgo money spent on high-quality beer and just make our own again.
We’ll have to talk more about this tonight. I am going to Woodward & Bernstein our financial habits. Follow the money…follow the money…the money doesn’t lie.