I’ve had to tighten the budget recently, I mean really tight. I overspent on frivolous stuff in the last six months – extra meals out, too many trips to Target. Important expenses increased too, an extra trip to OC each month adds $50 for gas. Combined with losing a source of income I was expecting for the next two months, I’m definitely watching every penny. I applied for food stamps. I already receive WIC, and was surprised I could get both. Considering we eat almost all our meals at home, and my love for trying new recipes, groceries are the biggest chunk of my monthly budget. I looked into selling plasma. There’s a facility in La Mesa that pays $55 a week if you come in twice a week to donate your blood for plasmapheresis. I just got pierced (read: frivolous spend), now I’m ineligible to give blood 12 months. I’m driving less. I’m avoiding Target like it’s a zombie trap. I canceled Netflix. Even little things like riding the carousel and the train at Balboa Park, or buying ice cream at SeaWorld, are on hiatus for the next few months.
After the initial shock of recalculating my budget (and sadness of making Target forbidden) I’ve felt empowered by this reminder of a “less is more” mentality. I got all excited to clip coupons, but most of them are for packaged meals and processed foods. Not that I don’t eat packaged food, it just doesn’t make up the majority of my grocery list. Why are there no coupons for produce? I did end up clipping some coupons for almond milk, pretzels, fruit snacks, dry pasta and yogurt. WIC gives me a check for $6 a month to spend on produce. They give me $25 worth of milk and $10 worth of juice we don’t drink, I wish I could swap the value for more produce.
I had a short lived fantasy that I would just eat every other day – save money and drop 10 pounds – winning! Back in reality I realized that I love food and most days I have a hard time waiting a few hours between meals.
As I was scrolling through my inbox this morning I realized I get close to 50 emails a day tempting me with discounts and deals. I get emails from Groupon, Living Social, Gap, Old Navy, Pottery Barn Kids, Lucky, Overstock, Zulily, Mama Bargains, Shutterfly, Gilt, Picaboo, TravelZoo, Aaron Brothers, Victoria’s Secret, Macy’s, ModCloth…the list goes on. One of the emails today was a Kindle for $79 (normally $149) and it included a $20 gift card to WalMart. I really wanted to buy it! Do I need a Kindle? No, I’m doing just fine using the free Kindle app on my iPhone. Was it the Kindle I really want? Nope. I want the Kindle Fire so I can download apps. I’m just a broke ass moth flying towards the sparkly sale flame. No deal is worth spending money I don’t have, I know.
So I’m removing the temptation, especially with Christmas is around the corner (or already in our lap if you go to any retailer). These emails are just going to get more enticing and promise me all kinds of things I want at super bargains that trick me into justifying the splurge. I have to keep telling myself I’m on survival mode for a few months, and it’s good for me. Like spending a few weeks eating salads after the holidays, I’m going to trim down a little.
I unsubscribed to almost all of my emails. I hesitated, thinking “what if I miss a really good deal for something I need?!” But I won’t, because I don’t need any of that right now. Goodbye Groupon with your cheap bikini waxes and pedicures. Goodbye Zulily with your sweet deals on kids clothes and toys. Goodbye Old Navy with your 30% off all the dresses and leggings I
need want. Not any time soon, and maybe not as often as before, but I’m sure we will meet again.