Dragon slaying (aka slashing our budget)

So now that I have had my fill of trying to update and customize the blog theme, I am back to the more serious business of working on our budget with the recent demoralizing salary slashing. I am still not over it. My full-time job is the most depressing, non-dangerous place to spend 8 hours daily. And even though I know what I want to do, what has to happen, I have been dragging my feet on getting our budget updated.

I have not wanted to cut our retirement savings, and thus far I am successful in protecting that savings bucket. Everything else is on the hit list for ruthless examination and cutting, and it has been an uncomfortable experience. I know mine remains a luxury problem, because I’m still saving a significant chunk of my income for retirement and long-term goals and having to cut my very generous flexible spending categories is not a real hardship. Unless you are an entitled spoiled brat, and despite my foot-dragging and whining, M and I know how lucky we are in our to have only this level of discomfort.

Our flexible spending categories are getting slashed 30%, but as I have said, they are generous. I mean, a $600 food budget for a family of 2 most of the time? I am not a conscious shopper; I rarely have a list and never look at the grocery flyers. We tend to wander up and down the aisles and toss whatever catches our eye or sounds good in that moment into the cart. Bad, bad habit, but I have taken great pains to point out that we are not particularly frugal people. We rarely eat out anymore – Chef M now resides under this roof and is preparing all sorts of interesting meals that carry over into the following days as well. We are working together on meal planning putting forth concerted effort to cut down on the food waste, which is embarrassingly huge. Vegetarians we are not; meat is a huge part of our diet, especially for M, and organic (read: expensive) is always going to be our first choice. The trick we are finding is to buy ginormous pieces of meat or packages of chicken and either cut and freeze in more sensible portions or cut, cook, and freeze them into normal sized, 2-person meals with at most a couple days of leftovers.

We are determined to get our food budget under $600 from mid-July through the end of August. This should really not be much of a problem, because the freezer and pantry are both well stocked right now. Fresh fruits and vegetables – critical items for me – are going to be the primary consumers of our food-shopping dollars.

The ones that I suspect will be most painful are personal care and supplements. M is a huge, HUGE consumer of vitamins and supplements. The vitamins themselves tend to come and go in 90-day supplies, but there are so many we are buying different things every single month. I also take a couple of spendy brand supplements – my Vitamin D is $22/bottle and last 2 months, versus the one M takes that is $10/bottle from Costco and lasts 6 months – so we will both be making some concessions. In this area M more than me will be feeling the sacrifice immediately.

But in this we will adjust and it’s mostly an annoyance right now because of the circumstances. If we were just trying to save more money or to pay for a home enhancements or even an unexpected expensive event it would be easier to swallow, so I need to just suck it up and deal. My part-time gigs have some intriguing work coming up next week and through September, so there is that to look forward to around our vacation days. M is also going to be doing some fun (to him) work that will minimize our crash back to earth to “normal” spending plans and budgets.

With all things finance, I believe the initial contraction is always painful when it must be accepted and implemented. While knowing might be half the battle, it does not make it suck any less.

Off to go have some cheese with my whine. Have a great evening.

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