I'm a little glad. I'm almost out of shampoo. We have more money at the end of this week than any of the others. This is partly due to the fact that we didn't withdraw and spend this week's money until Sunday. Just starting a day early on the other weeks really seems to have made a big difference. Cody's gotten better about cooking with what we have, and shopping to supplement what we have. I've gotten better about saying "Okay" to whatever dinner Cody proposes, regardless of what I'm in the mood for, and I've gotten creative a few times with breakfast.
In all honesty, I wouldn't mind bumping up the weekly allowance and continuing this little experiment, but I can't seem to get Cody to go along with this. I even suggested we modify this for Lent.
I'll post the day-by-day detailed account of Week 4 next Monday. For now, here's what I've learned:
1. We're really poor, and need to live within our means. I finally did the very concrete math last weekend and we simply do not bring home enough money to match our fairly modest, daily living expenses. The key phrase is "bring home." A painful amount of my income goes to insurance (the premiums nearly doubled last year). But this plan nearly covers all of my allergy and asthma nonsense and is funding Cody's ongoing eyeball misadventures. Cody contributes to a 401(k).* And a lot of his paycheck goes into our savings. Next month, we're taking some of that money out, and making a bigger-than-normal car payment. If we're not going to make more money, we can at least reduce some of our living expenses, and we're really tired of car payments. We've decided the car payment must go. And we've recently decided that it's got to go a little sooner than we'd planned.
2. We're not really that poor. Like I said, we're bringing home less money because some of our money is going to savings and insurance and retirement. If something bad happens, it won't be a complete financial disaster like it would have been when we were first married. We can eat well on cheap food. We really don't need that much. We have more than we thought we did, doing without the things we'd normally get really isn't that huge of a deprivation, and we're doing fine.
3. If we don't go in the store, we don't buy anything. I think I've been to Target 4 times this past month. Once I was simply having a damaged photo CD replaced, and twice I was shopping for other people. It's been kind of nice to avoid the bombardment of things I want or 'need.'
4. There's really no need to browse at the grocery store. The fun is in preparing and eating the food, not shopping for it. (Unless we're at a farmer's market: come on, spring!) There's no need to amble along in every single aisle, on every single trip. We save time and money, and we don't have to follow that buggy with the whiny kid and inattentive parents throughout the entire store.
5. Family is so important/We're huge mooches. Our families have always helped us out, and we've always thoroughly appreciated it. But I've been writing everything down this month, so now I know exactly how much they've helped us:
- 2 pizzas
- 3 lunches in restaurants
- 1 homecooked meal
- 5 trips to Sonic
- 1 trip to the ice cream store
- 15 Mountain Dews
- 2/3 box of chocolates
- 7 eggs
- 3.5 tubs of lotion
- 1 bottle of soap
6. There's no way to not spend money. If I could find a way around it, I would. I use my laundry drying racks, we eat in, I make most of my own household cleaning products with cheap ingredients, and I've tried to get better about impulse purchases. Strangely enough, bills keep coming in and people expect us to pay them. Cavities need fillings. Cars need gas. Babies need presents.** Cody needs a haircut. And that's fine. Tomorrow I'm going to the Flower and Garden Show with my mom. Tickets are $7.50 since we're not senior citizens or children. I may buy something. I may not. I'm not going to get stressed out about it. This has been fun. This has been an adventure. And the Flower and Garden Show only comes around once a year and, by George, I refuse to miss it!
7. Cookies are great snacks. I may never buy another package of breakfast bars or cheese and crackers again. That's a lie. But cookies are cheap, easy, and delicious.
*He's 24. This cracks me up.
**On average, I've been to a baby shower every other weekend this year!