This is Eli

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

It's money madness

It’s money madness

At work, I’ve put together a homicide spreadsheet with data on the 62 souls whose lives met violent ends this year in Oklahoma City.

At home, I’ve made a spreadsheet documenting our food and supply habits for the months July, August and September.

In both cases:

It’s murder!

The good news: I’m done with both spreadsheets.

The other good news: We have a savings account.

Twenty seven percent of Americans have no emergency fund, so says Bankrate in its financial security survey.

Sure, we’ve got one, but it needs to grow, and we need to save more!

Here’s a brief rundown on the budget data and a little summary of what I learned about our spending habits.

Our July spending habits were straight trippin’, boo.

We spent $1,853 on food and supplies. Within that number, there were a whole lot of extras, which I consider coffees, lunches and dinners out and wine and beer treats. We treated ourselves to those things in 53 separate charges, totaling $608, ranging from $1.61 for a cookie from the mall for wee Laila to a indulgent lunch with friends in Ann Arbor at $58.88. God, that was a great lunch. It included wine.

Looking back at the month I can easily see where our spending got out of hand. Especially because, as I write this, I know we did a lot better in the next two months.

What I’ve discovered about myself after I started thinking about our budget is how any kind of sadness or stress makes me want to spend. My son got sick in early July. The illness went to his lungs, and that stressed me out to no end. Nothing had ever gotten into his lungs before. For those stumbling in here, he’s got a chronic disease called cystic fibrosis, in which his lungs get gummed up and infected because of the sticky mucus his body makes. You have to work hard to keep a CF kid healthy.

In early July I hit Starbucks or Dunkin 10 times in two weeks. During the same time period, we bought meals out 15 times! With CF, a kid gets sick, and his care becomes extra time consuming. So you might do things, like order in. Some of that you really have to forgive yourself for. Who has time to plan, shop and cook healthy meals at home when a little one needs to be supervised on a shaking vest for 1.5 or more hours a day — 1 hour when he is well.

These might seem like a small things in the face of something as daunting as a baby’s chronic illness, but that stuff adds up over time. Eating out all the time is not just expensive, it’s unhealthy. And my son is going to get sicker over time. So I need to consider that these habits, which are due in part to emotional spending, will hurt us long-term, and I need to put a lid on it!

Beyond that we had visitors from Texas – my bestie and her crew – and took a Michcation to Ann Arbor, where we enjoyed local treats like Bigby coffee and Dominick’s…yum.

I decided in August to follow the money. It led me to the conclusion of…oh $#%#^@. We spent less and saved more.

We spent $1,393 on food and supplies, and within that, $293 on extras, under half of the extras in July! We treated ourselves to extra stuff 53 times in July and 23 times in August.

Don’t start patting me on the back yet. In September, our expenses crept back up. We spent $1,579 on food and supplies and, within that number, 30 swipes of our credit/debit for extra stuff, ranging from $1.83 at Braums Dairy to $38 on a pizza outing.

Staring those numbers in the face kinda shocked me! You could say it slayed me.

Following the money hurt. Damn. The numbers don’t lie…

Mark and I give ourselves a C. Minus. We gotta do better.

Now that I’ve ID’d our problem areas and know what’s going toward essentials and extras, we’re going to try to set some target numbers.

We might go cash-only for extras for the remainder of October and all of November.

Because watching that hard-earned green just slip away will be a lot harder than swiping my card.

It’s too easy to spend…time to make it painful.

Have you gone cash-only in part or in full? Did it last? Did it impact your bottom line? Oklahoma City is one of the lower cost-of-living metros in the country. What do food and supplies cost where you live? Any tips on keeping costs down? Let me know! Leave a comment! Send an e-mail!

Juliana writes about money every Monday. Follow her Monday money madness in the Money Cash category.

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