This is Eli

A blog about Eli. A blog about survival – and by that, I mean life!

Hey hey. It’s Monday! Time for Monday morning $cash madness.

In July I fired up a savings account and chose to do an auto-deduct to save 10 percent of our income.

We didn’t have an emergency fund to weather a 30 day hospital stay for buddy boy. We’re trying to do better for the next time life throws something crazy our way.

While we build a little cushion, I’ve been Woodward & Bernsteining our food and supply budget. Since we live simply already, driving old cars, carrying no credit card debt, etc., I started our approach to formulating a financial long game by looking for waste in a giant household expense — food and supplies. This area costs more than rent check! That’s the piece of our budget that’s thus far under the gun, though I’ve been trying hard to curb impulse buys to help.

Little kids are expensive. Chronic medical conditions are expensive. My son has cystic fibrosis, no fault of his! Between diapers, childcare, preschool, paying down buddy boy’s medical expenses and co-pays for medications and extra doctor visits, we’re in a crunch. Saving 10 percent is a major challenge, is my point. Savings is more than just savings to my family. We don’t know what Eli’s medical future has in store for us. I don’t want him to ever, ever feel bad, like mommy & daddy are upset or stressed over bills and it’s his fault. That’s what’s driving all of this. Buddy boy has CF, but he’s changed us for the better in a lot of ways. We were ridin’ down the life highway with money blinders on. Exit — to financial responsibility! Onward!

Here are five things helping us save on our fledgling journey to financial freedom:

1. State of mind.
This is not a hardship, it’s a challenge. We are not victims, we’re warriors. Repeat.

2. NO. I said NO.
Some parents have a hard time saying no to their kids. I don’t. Neither does Mark! I’m not about to raise a spoiled brat, ppl!

I have a lot harder time saying no to myself. For a family outing Sunday, we went on a walk downtown. There is a Bass Pro Shop downtown. I’d never been to Bass Pro. Bass Pro is a destination! Bass Pro made me want a giant camo Lazy Boy. Hard. Ooooh antler key chain. Fish magnet. Red solo cup goblet! Do these come in sets of eight? Laila picked up a little pink camo stuffed deer and carried it around the store. I had to hide it behind some brush in a display while she sat with Daddy on an ATV. This distraction technique was a preemptive strike on a tantrum, since after telling her no the first time she clung to the pink camo deer and started thrashing around and screeching in the cart. Ominous.

Then I picked up this camo mesh Bass Pro cap. OMG. Look at this thing! It looks so cute on my head. Seriously, don’t I look cute? Mesh. Mesh is so good for running. A breeze will reach my head. $9.99? Can you beat it???? I carried it around the store like Laila had gripped her pink camo deer.

Mark had to tell me no. NO? Out of my cold dead hands will you put back on the shelf this camo mesh Bass Pro hat that I clearly need in order to run in the Oklahoma sun! Eventually, somewhere between the mannequin man holding a handgun and the aquarium full of catfish, I remembered our budgeting. UGH. I put it down. Why was that so hard? I’ve saved $50 in the last week by not buying “just a little something.” – a backpack Laila didn’t need, a pair of Target boots I didn’t need and the hat. So maybe we’ll save the $50. Or maybe we’ll put it toward something more valuable — time together! Like a day trip to a small Oklahoma town I want us to visit this fall. We managed to walk out of Bass Pro empty handed.

STOP. Drop the mesh camo Bass Pro hat. I SAID DROP THE HAT. POP POP POP POP.

STOP. Drop the mesh camo Bass Pro hat. I SAID DROP THE HAT. POP POP POP POP.

3. Whole Paycheck v. Half Paycheck v. Walmart.
I grew up in the north near Detroit, and I lived in the same area before I got to OK. Ya know, unions, hipsters farming in Detroit’s abandoned lots, organic foods, goofy liberals, medical marijuana dispensaries, nature, etc. While I was there, I avoided Walmart. Ugh. Walmart. Like, so corporate. And, they don’t pay their greeters enough! Ew! People like northern me are the reason people down here think people from the north are snobs. We kind of are. Down here, Walmart is the major grocer and in some places the only grocer. Until just a few weeks ago in Oklahoma, I’d been passing on Walmart to shop at a Trader Joe’s-esque chain called Sprouts. Sprouts is great! It’s not Whole Paycheck. It’s more like Half Paycheck. Well, mama needed to check herself and get to Walmart. I still have high maintenance hippie food needs that Walmart doesn’t meet. However, they do carry some organic brands that are notably cheaper than anywhere else. So does Target. I can’t eat an all organic diet — what do I look like, a millionaire? Now that I’ve come to my senses, I spread most grocery shopping between Target, where we have a 5 percent off card, and Walmart. I get produce at Sprouts on double sale days. I’ll have to see next month what kind of savings this change has brought.

4. More thought to meals
We’re not hard core meal planners, but we’re trying harder. This means we try to think of what meals might go with the ingredients we have before we go to the store. I try to get ingredients for breakfasts, packed lunches and a few simple dinners on Sunday and Monday to get us through the week. Sometimes I even have a list! Today I got dinner ingredients for spaghetti since we already had a can of tomato sauce; pizza crust and cheese since we already had the pizza sauce; and beans and rice since we already had white rice, canned diced tomatoes, the spices and an onion at home. I’m not perfect at any of this and mark my words: you won’t see me posting glorious food or meal pictures online.

5. A decent set of food containers
I ditched some creepy opaque food containers in favor of a glass set — I got it on sale, at Target! I’ve been trying harder to do food prep and put the fresh food in these containers so we actually eat it. Because, it stings one’s pocket book to buy veggies or fruits and then discover 6 weeks later you’ve let them turn into a back-of-the-fridge science experiment. That’s wasteful, and so, again, we are trying harder not to waste. Also, it helps me stick to Weight Watchers. I also got food labeling tape to prevent freezer leftover mysteries. The biggest shock? I actually used it! Watch out Martha!

Will these measures pay off? I hope we are transforming our waste into savings. The numbers will tell the story.

Thanks, it's been madness.

Thanks, it’s been madness.

I’ll continue my Woodward & Bernsteining at a later date, comparing the months before we started targeting food and supply waste to the months of austerity. I’d also like to know what constitutes as a reasonable food and supply budget in these parts. Until then!

Thanks for reading my madness.

If you have savings tips related to food and supplies, will you share them below? Feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me using the contact form.

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