This is Eli

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

Welp, I just can’t lie. Our effort at running a tight ship on the money front went up in smoke this month.

Do you have any idea what kind of lattes they have in the D.C. area? I had a Mayan Coca and cayenne latte, people. I was there to learn about how to be a good soldier in the cause to cure cystic fibrosis, and eat all the baked goods, and drink all the lattes, at every little indie cafe I saw. NOMS.

noms noms noms noms

noms noms noms noms



Then my little Laila turned 4, and we all went a little nuts about it. She received an assortment of Hello Kitty duds, a headband-making kit and Jake & The Pirate Legos from us, and lots and lots of gifts from family and friends. We had a family party. And I booked a zoo party room for more festivities with her preschool little people friends.. I mean, you only turn 4 once.

Mark likes strange Oklahoma weather, except for giant tornadoes.

Mark likes strange Oklahoma weather, except for giant tornadoes.

Mark’s birthday is this week, and we’re going out to grab dinner. And his friends want to take him out.

And you know, it’s just really hard to live like a monk when it’s someone’s birthday. ‘Cause we like celebrating, you know, being alive.

We humans are not programmed to strictly adhere to new rules and change. New rules and change. Ew.

Oh well. Here’s my breakdown of how we got off track.

Things fell apart when we thought we could make a budget every two weeks. HAHAHAHA.

I have come to the realization that we have to make a budget every single month. When we do, at the beginning of the month, I’m like good Sandy from Grease. At the end of the month, I’m big hair, leather-clad Sandy alter ego, 5 seconds away from unintended pregnancy. Gonna miss graduation day ’cause I’m at a bender by the river.

That’s the reason we decided Mark and I declared we were going to overachieve on our budget effort and write one up every two weeks. That didn’t happen. A month passed and our spending habits got sloppy. Two weeks is too frequent for a budget – our brains are stretched in too many different directions.

One of the best things we’ve done thus far is auto-deduct into a savings every month. I realize this is a no-brainer. But, srsly, with economic collapse as our backdrop, we’ve made six moves in three states, had two kids, and weathered a lengthy hospital stay and two operations from complications from my son’s chronic disease. It’s been hard to focus and prevent head explosion, let alone save.

I feel guilty about that and kinda sheepish. Probably, cause it’s more popular to pretend things are GREAT. Like, woo, look at me, life’s perfect. Selfie selfie hashtag YEAH.


Any way, eventually, we’ll need to do something with that savings, but I’m not there yet.

In other news, Mark canceled cable.

OK, OK, we agreed to “cancel cable.”

Then I went away for the weekend, and he actually did it.

I don’t miss Pawn Stars as much as I thought I would. I do miss Property Bros.

I’ve been sucked into “Hell on Wheels” on Netflix. It’s salve to the harsh non-cable reality I now occupy.

Should I get Hulu Plus? What else can you run through a PS3 that’s cheap yet excellent?

In other money news, we have resorted to bribery to get Laila to go on the pot.

What they hey? Out of nowhere, she reverted and started poo’in and peeing her pants. I mean, she’d run to the toilet and then sit next to it and pee. In her pants. For nanny Melissa, at school and at home for us.

It was like she was running a grand experiment.

At first we were like, “Why are you acting like a baby? You’re a big girl!”

Then she hung her head and cried, and kept poo’in all over her Rainbow Dash panties.

We made a big cruel show about ruined Rainbow Dash and all the other beautiful princess/Hello Kitty/flower drawers we had to throw away and she hung her head and cried, and poo’d up in her Pinkie Pie knickers.

I contemplated calling the doctor – actually I think I will still just to cover my bases. This is way too much info, btw, if you have no toddlers, please save yourself and navigate elsewhere.

She could be constipated and still have diahrrea, which happened to a friend of mine’s child.

Then we told her we’d give her a dime every time she went. And wapow, like magic, bribery worked.

Laila is saving up for a science kit, a pee and a poo at a time.

livin, tryin, chillin

livin, tryin, chillin

Thanks for reading! If you feel like it, share any budget missteps you’ve made and how you got back on track. Also – have you canceled cable? Did you get something else in its place that was cheap/better or successfully finish that novel/regroute bathroom tile/etc etc. And lastly – any tips you have for addressing potty training that regresses OUT OF NOWHERE – let me know.


8 thoughts on “Total budget…breakdown

  1. kristajahnke says:

    Have you tried Mint? It’s helping me budget. I really really suck at budgeting. But I like Mint.


    1. j&m says:

      Hi! Yes, we signed up for that a while ago ( a couple of years) but canceled it. The thing that works well for us is really old school. We take out a notebook – a reporter’s notebook, of course — and add up what we have coming in. Then we subtract every expense, starting with the largest first. The ‘naming every dollar’ down to zero approach really works well — if you do it and agree and follow through. We just didn’t in the last month. It’s alarming how fast our expenses add up! Our childcare is really high right now, because we have a nanny and pay for Laila’s preschool. The discussion changed the way Mark and I interact about money, but also changed the way we communicate in a significant way. That is, when we’re organized enough to get the budget done. I’ll have to write about that some time!


  2. Drew says:

    I cancelled cable about three years ago and don’t miss it at all. At first I did feel like I was missing out when I would sit down and only had basic antenna TV to browse around if I wanted to just channel surf, but before long I was only watching specifically what I wanted to watch and then using my time otherwise to stop sitting on the couch aimlessly. We have Netflix and Hulu Plus, and I also use bittorrent to download recent shows that aren’t on Hulu. If it’s available streaming we do it that way, otherwise I’ll do a torrent. We’ve also considered Apple TV but I don’t ever foresee paying $100 a month for the privilege of having 200 channels, of which we were watching 6 of them.

    I’ve tried Mint but didn’t find it that great. Paper and pen and an ongoing Excel spreadsheet do the trick for us. And living in one of the most expensive cities in America means we’re always fighting to stay on track.


    1. j&m says:

      OMG it’s STATE NEWS DREW. How’s it going? Somehow we now have no TV stations at all. We need an antenna. Or do we? What’s surprising is that I don’t actually miss TV except the occasional Property Bros. longing. TV was probably just making me dumb and unproductive. I already have two children, so I don’t need anything else making me dumb and unproductive. No offense, teeny buddies. Also, for the first two years Mark and I were married, we were minimalist anti-TV hippies. At a party we threw with the theme “The Economy Sux,” our guests sung along with a karaoke machine, by holding a laptop with the lyrics on the screen. Internet – that’s something I couldn’t live without. Oklahoma City is one of the lowest cost of living metros in the country. However, Mark’s a teacher, and it’s 49th for teacher pay. Not that I can blame him – I insist on being a journalist, after all! It’s all relative!


      1. drewmharmon says:

        State News Drew – that’s something I haven’t heard in a while!

        You’ll need to get an antenna. You can get a decent digital one for about $30 at Radio Shack or a Best Buy, fiddle with the placement a bit and you should get all your local stations relatively clear. We get some of them in even sharper HD than we did with cable. TV does mostly make you dumb but I still have some shows I like to watch, and not having cable means a lot less flipping around and settling for Man Vs. Food or Extreme Pawn or all the other garbage. But it’s nice to have the area news and some PBS, which has great stuff for kids, adults and stoned adults.

        My wife and I made the smart choice of living in uber-pricey San Francisco, but luckily we moved into a rent-controlled apartment three years ago before the tech boom happened again and we’re paying about 60% of the market rate on our apartment at the moment. She’s a TV producer but I was doing just standup comedy and freelance writing for a couple of years until we decided paying bills on time and eating food was a preferable lifestyle. Sticking to a budget is hard but the first time you hit one of those milestones in the savings account or pay off a credit card it feels pretty empowering.


  3. j&m says:

    Paying bills on time and eating food – it’s all a journalism major needs, really. I will (make Mark) got jimmy up an antenna. Severe weather season is a bit alarming down here on the plains and that is the one time I actually rely on TV news. Laila busted our deluxe weather radio. Bogus. At least she didn’t poo on it…I guess.


  4. jordanhaley says:

    It was definitely hard to get used to not having cable when my parents cancelled it. Thankfully, God made Netflix.


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