I'm trying to say it nicely, but the truth is we spend more than we have. And I don't just mean our family, I think it's rampant in this culture. Now that I'm on mat leave my income is down to half of what it was before, and we're trying to be proactive about cutting spending before we have no credit left. I realize how silly this sounds. But we all start somewhere, right. Right?
Challenge #1: Think Before You Buy
The idea was to stop buying all those little things we really don't need. My affluent-minded self would see something I liked and just buy it without thinking so much about how badly I wanted/needed it. Now I'm trying to think before I buy and only actually come home with stuff I really, really want. This is harder done than said.
Case in point, I came home from the grocery store on Monday with 2 cookbooks. I really love the cookbooks, but do we really need them?? I'm sure if I hadn't bought them I would not have even remembered that I'd seen them.
As a secondary benefit, I am hoping that the house will suffer from less clutter in the future.
Challenge #2: Eat out Less
Eating out should be a treat, not done because you don't want to cook dinner. We had dinner out the other night with a group of friends, and ended up going over to one of their houses afterwards. I think we all wished we had skipped dinner and gone there in the first place.
Actually, I think we're doing really well with this one. We've definitely cut down a lot lately, and I think it'll make a big difference in the budget.
Challenge #3: Groceries
This is the new challenge. How can I make the grocery bill lower. I think there is quite a lot of wiggle room here. I am an expensive eater. Only the best for my family! HaHa. I've stopped ordering organic delivery groceries. I sure love that company but just can't justify the expense right now. This week I am going to look for recipes that cost less to make. I think Steak is probably out, as is roast chicken for lunches.
The Mister has stopped going out to Tim's for a coffee and muffin every morning - that adds up. I have stopped looking for the perfect diaper cover. I'm not in love with the ones I have, but they will do the job - at least until Munchie is into the next size. Another dozen prefolds would be nice, but I can do laundry every 2 days instead of every 3.
My big addiction is books and magazines. I'm addicted to reading. addicted to knowledge and new ideas. or maybe I just like to look at the pictures. I get home and realize I've bought another book without thinking. Silly girl. We need to spend more time at the library where books are free.
That said, the real sacrifice is still to come. There are a couple of big(ish) purchases I really would like to make, and I still have to decide how badly I want them and see how the the budget is doing in a month or 2 (and consult with The Mister).
One is the baby carrier that I raved about earlier in the blog - Munchie is getting bigger, and the sling is hard on my back for long distance travel. I tried a wrap, but, honestly, though I love how it feels to wear it, it's a pain in the butt to put on. Really rather ridiculous.
The other purchase is a yoga class. I don't know if I've raved about yoga on this blog yet, but it makes a big difference in my life. I feel whole when I do it. And I seem to need a class to do it. A friend is the local Ashtanga instructor, and I really want to take his class for a session.
What's needed is a change in attitude, or focus. Mindfulness about purchases. A. often asks if we can go to a store to buy something when she is bored. I am trying to explain to her that we'll go to the store if we need something, but not just to look around. She doesn't like this at all, but I tell myself that I am trying to teach her a useful lesson about "stuff" making us happy.
And in the end my crazy little hidden hope is that if we can figure out how to spend enough less I will be able to stay home with the kids after my mat leave is over (and that's a subject for another post). I don't really believe it is possible, as most of our monthly expenses are debts, but one can try, right?