Thursday, October 16, 2008

confessions/new ways

So I have been working EXTREMELY diligently on this whole new realm of running a proper family. As in, the budget. The menus. The daily tasks, the weekly tasks, the activities.....its alot!

How can I, in my 13th year of marriage, just be starting this? In my 12th year of motherhood, with 5 kids? I do not know.

Maybe in my rebellious way I thought being a "soccer mom" with an electronic pda in my well groomed hand was too repugnant for my rock n roll sensibilities and so I was stuck in the quagmire of being in my 20's, a wifey and yet just a girl, a mother and a homeowner and yet more than satisfied with the promise of a little taco bell on a friday nite with my friends and my husband....yeah it was hard to pay the bills, but hey man, bills are bullshit, right? Pay the mortgage/rent, get some groceries, the rest works out....


it is not cute anymore. It never was, but there was no one to show me any different. I had myself convinced that we were kinda middle class--we had cable and a car, right? anyhow, we hit rock bottom tons of times. Didnt even phase us, really, to have no money, negative money, etc. It was like a dream, just a weird low level stress dream, and there was always that vaguely self-pitying fantasy that "we didnt make alot of money" and that we should be "proud" that we lived at all on such modest means, and with no debt!
Well, in our family pregnancy is expensive. Not babies. Not kids. Pregnancy. The cost: Loss of One Adult--Mom! What does this mean? This means that I, the Mom, will kind of make meals and will do the homeschool lessons, but thats about it. No budgeting, no menus, no grocery shopping, no bill organizing, no saving, impromptu restaurant purchases daily, special herbs, special comfort items, special drinks special pillows special movies clothes shoes music books bedding support garments AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
But we are done with pregnancy. And my husband tried his darndest. He is an astonishingly helpful person, but he works all day, he's worse (read: optimistic/in denial) with money than I am, and well, he ran the show 5 times, and I am now officially considering myself being in an intense period of maternity since 2002 (See other blog for explanation).
I came to my mom, who is incredible with money, and begged her for advice AND money. And she did. She helped us out, but better than that, it helped us learn to do this on our own now. I had the worrysome task of presenting her with ALL the information, and flat out asking her if we were delusional or if we could actually live on what Steve makes. I thought there was a higher than 50% chance she would say "get a job, deary" but she came back with great news: we could do it, and save, too! So we made good trial "worksheets" and several attempted budget plans, but they still didnt seem right. They seemed un realistic, too simplistic, what was the problem, exactly? Why didnt mom's little sheets about "Gas, Electric, Groceries, Cable, rent" seem to have anything to do with wherever it was that the money was going? We had sworn off restaurants, gifts, new clothes, slurpees, drivin around whatsoever, Steve eating lunch out, electronics, where the hell was the money going?
ahem. the martyrous and virtuous ME, buying the martyous and virtuous MISCELLANEA, is where. To WalMart Corp, thank you. How embarassing! Was it knick knacks? Candles? Throw pillows? No, no, no, none of that would have passed my new frugal standards of acceptability--it was just--miscellanea! Nothing exciting! Stuff we "need" that was "super cheap here at walmart so I better grab it". Tape. (do other moms, homeschoolers or otherwise, buy as much scotch tape as we do?) Sandwhich bags. Straws. Kleenex. I dont know!!!! But I buy ALOT of it. Grab grab grab throw it in the cart its only 2 bucks its only 3 bucks its only 4 bucks holy crap why is my bill 80, 90, 120$ what did i do its nothing exciting at all i might as well have bought some gorgeous new shoes and took the whole family camping in them, this SUCKS!
So THAT is the part 2 of this new me, this new organized penny pinching me. Part one was Mom gives us money and we are forever grateful and we pay all our bills and swear to stop spending on anything exciting fun or tasty. Fine. Got it. but part TWO is where the real deal begins, facing my apparent addiction to putting flibbety flub in the cart. and its never ever anything cool, thats what kills me! Its never Halloween decor, its never little socks with whimsical patterns on them, its never raspberry body spritzer or curtain rods with little glass balls on the ends of them! These are the thingies I proudly ignore when I shop at the insideous walmart---but its the lesser stuff that is still killing us.
I am in full charge of the bank account online. I also write it all down, even though its all right there almost instantaneously online, I write it all down. And I have goals. Pay the bills, by the food, gas up the car....but THEN I want to save up for a real van. A Full Size Van. We are unsafe in our minivan AND its horrid to all be in it.
I am also staying home tons more. If we want the car for the day we have to drive Daddy to work and of course go pick him up. I am thinking alot more before we just do this randomly. If I have no car we will not drive about spending gas. We will not shop. We will more likely be home doing our habits and rhythms. There will be a much higher chance of me cooking the planned meals. THEN I can go out in the evenings, (with the baby unless its a real quickie thing) to get away get a break get my head on straight, have a time where I am not being asking a trillion questions or breaking up fights or wincing in pain from the screaming/squealing noises of our household as of late. I like the library for something like that, and have to make sure my library -bound car doesn't head for Target or Walmart instead for some innocuous 90 dollar toilet paper instead ;)
Mom, if you read this blog, (does anyone?) I already told you this but you saved our family, for reals. Thank you.
To everyone else who kinda knows they need to cut back and kinda knows how but gets sort of stuck at those cute recipe idea areas of those cute frugal livin websites---maybe you are just buying too much damn flibbety flub at walmart. Its worth checking it out! Maybe you dont have to bake your own saltines or sew your own winter coat. Maybe thats not for you right now. Maybe just a hiatus from all shopping whatsoever. Im trying.

Organize our schedules

Plan menus and do not stray from them

Organize and plan for our income

Keep working on finding a rhythm for our housework

Keep up the good new homeschool routines

Stick to bed times, naptimes

Make and keep special days for special events--make things meaningful and instill the fine art of waiting for something in the children

Less spontaneity

Keep on top of it all daily

Make time for fun as well as time for work

Value our time and see the worth in organizing it

Value our money and see the worth in budgeting it

Special days of the week for certain activities

Bedtimes for grownups (!!!!!!!!!!!!!! uncool!!!!!!! panic!!!!!! but always worth it!!!!!!)


Sgt Howie said...

God, budgeting is so hard. I really only started doing it in the last year and I still struggle. I suck at saving and I do still impulse shop online sometmes, but now I always know exactly how much money I have and never have an oops-I'm-broke crisis between paychecks anymore. Online banking saved me more than anything. I'd still be perpetually in crisis if I had to keep a running balance on my own- that involves math!

I have saved a fortune since I stopped having fast food junk for lunch every day. I don't miss it and I feel healthier for not eating it.

Kelley said...

Sometimes, Joy, it's scary how very similar we really are. I've been looking back at the last 10 years, and wondering what the heck we were doing with our money. Being stupid, obviously!

This budgeting thing is hard! I think Jon being out of work is really good for us in this respect because we really are having to keep to a very tight budget or else we WILL go in debt, and we've promised ourselves to NEVER, EVER do that again.

Anonymous said...

wise choices. i must say though, ditch walmart, your soul will thank you. all we have are our convictions, and reading your blog, walmart doesn't match your values. craigslist, thrift shops, target (if you have to) are all great ways to save money. there is no excuse for supporting walmart. just one gals opinion.

Anonymous said...

I lOVE your blog!!! Thanks for taking the time to write. I love knowing I am not the only one out there thinking these things and dealing with these same issues! Thanks!