This is the end of week 1 of Our Spending Prohibition or Moratorium or Embargo or Ban or Suspension.
Wow. Seriously, none of these sound good, do they?
My family and I are having a bit of difficulty in accepting the limits we’ve chosen. It’s not easy and sometimes it’s hard to stay positive.
And this is only the first week….of a year-long spending moratorium. Only 51 weeks to go!
We have $1 left in our grocery budget until Friday. But we have food and we won’t starve. We may run out of milk, fresh fruit and eggs before then, but it’s certainly not the end of the world. The cats may run out of food before then, too, but I’ve already set aside money for that. And I feel like Wonder Woman for doing it.
Isn’t that ridiculous? But I can’t help it. What makes me feel good about what we’re doing is not the fact that we won’t have any money by Thursday night, but the fact that we’re not borrowing against next Friday’s paycheck today. Because that’s what we’ve been doing for years. YEARS. And so do many other people. And it sucks.
What lots of folks don’t understand is that we’ve never had any money to begin with nor are there many places to cut our budget. We don’t have cable. We have an 11-year-old car with over 227,000 miles on it. We don’t pay for high end cell phone service (I have a Tracfone and my husband has a phone through work). There’s never been an inheritance, a sale of a house, lottery winnings. Nothing. There’s just been lots and lots of borrowing. I’m a huge fan of borrowing books from the library, but borrowing money is a different ball game. And it’s one I don’t want to play anymore. My husband and I certainly made mistakes over the years and spending money we really didn’t have, but I’m not sorry about most of it. When you’re constantly scraping up enough money to just pay bills, sometimes you say, “Fuck it. I want to live!” And you do. You have fun. You spread your wings. And often it takes money to do that. I don’t regret the few vacations we’ve had or the time I’ve been able to spend with my friends and family in California, Florida and New York. It was worth every penny and more.
But now it’s time to buckle down and try to claw our way out of this hole. It’s going to be difficult and emotional. In my case, it will also be served with a side of guilt.
This weekend, my boy and I were fortunate enough to spend some much needed time with two of our favorite people. We went to the Maine Discovery Museum (after borrowing the free pass from my fantastic library) then headed over to McDonald’s for a quick lunch. I had already planned on this and took out $5 from our grocery budget. I bought my kid a Happy Meal and didn’t get anything for myself. I wasn’t starving and even if I was, I certainly wasn’t going to fade away. Now, if you’ve met my 9-year-old, you’d know that a Happy Meal probably won’t satisfy him, especially after a morning of hard play with a 3-year-old. I actually prepped him before we went, letting him know that most likely that was all we could afford but he could definitely eat something when we got home. He was totally cool with it. But he couldn’t stop himself from eyeing his cousin’s chicken nuggets. He went so far as hinting that if his cousin wasn’t going to eat them, he’d be happy to help him out. His cousin is a sweetie, and chose the largest of the nuggets to give to my boy. I melted a little at this awesome display of giving, but I also felt super freaking guilty. I’m letting a 3-year-old feed my kid when I could just dip into my gas money and buy my son some nuggets?
Yup. That’s exactly what I did. But neither of them seemed too scarred from it, so I need to stop beating myself up over it. Let it go, Holly, let it go. (If you feel the need to sing here, go ahead. I won’t judge you.)
I think the next two months will be *very* difficult and honestly, when I start thinking about it, I do get mini panic attacks. Can’t breathe well, pain in my chest….ok maybe slightly larger than mini panic attacks. I realized on the second day of our spending moratorium that my kid didn’t have a winter coat. Well, it’s Maine in November which means it will snow any day and it’s damn cold already. Fortunately he has winter boots….but I know they won’t last the winter. In fact, I’ve been putting off having him try them on because I’m afraid they won’t fit. And basketball season starts right after Thanksgiving, which means basketball shoes. Or at least something better than what he has now. And we have a dentist appointment in two weeks. And two of our cats need their shots after Thanksgiving. And there’s too many damn “and’s”!!
So how do we do this without borrowing from next week’s paycheck or from charging anything on a credit card? I’m really not sure yet. I’ll start scouring Goodwill and Craig’s List for my boy’s shoes and coat. I may skip my dental appointment and just take my son. I may only take one cat to the vet. Who knows? Maybe I can squeeze out enough from our grocery budget in the next two weeks to make some of these things happen. Maybe my husband will be able to work a few extra hours to pay the vet bill. Or maybe he won’t. That’s a lot of maybe’s. But right now that’s all we have.
And it’s better than nothing.
Hang in there, Holly. I know it seems like a long road, but soon I look forward to your discoveries of ways you can find some local resources less expensively, great recipes, and other hints the rest of us could definitely learn from.
Thanks so much, Liz!