Friday, August 08, 2008

Family Budget Cuts

After sitting down this morning to do our biweekly budget, Daniel and I have bit the bullet and have made some promises to each other regarding our finances. We're doing fine, but we've been especially tight this summer. Between a recent wedding/family reunion and all the costs that went with that, gas costs, and unexpected high utility bills we're squeaking by without putting anything into savings. Honestly, we'd been doing so well on our $10/day budget and trying to use less energy around the house that I truly thought this pay period would be less tight. But, SURPRISE! A almost $500 PG&E bill surfaced today along with a big shot of reality that we have debts that just need to be paid off so that we can be less stressed biweekly and so we can get the things we need to be ready for our son.

In addition to further committing to spend less, I sent out a couple emails to some friends and family explaining our situation a little and what we're doing about it.

Here's an excerpt of what went to our parents and a few friends:

Daniel and I have just finished doing our finances for this pay period and have come to the realization that with the rising costs of food, gas, utilities and the upcoming arrival of Finnegan that we once again need to take a careful look at how we spend our funds. We are doing fine and do not want you to worry - the three, well - almost 4 of us are eating 3 square meals a day, paying all our bills on time and are happy. Zoe does not want for toys, books, entertainment or love and really, neither do her parents. We're truly blessed.... but we know we're about to embark on some large expenses in the next 6 months.

So... as much as it pains me to say it, we are calling a halt to our extra curricular spending. We might see a movie once a month for our sanity, but otherwise we're cutting costs. We're eating all of our meals at home and Daniel is "brown bagging it" unless his work supplies free lunch on a given day - we love those days! This means we're not going to be able to do presents for birthdays and the holidays for a while - at least until after Finn is here and we've paid off some more of our debt and feel more at ease with where we stand. We'll still get what we think Zoe needs and will of course give her the best Christmas we're able to but.... well, you know how it is.

The good news is:
We feel good that we've laid this out as a household rule.
We feel good about how this will help us in the end.
We do not feel like we really want for much - well, for nothing that is a necessity. ;)
We've always been able to make the best of even the most difficult situation and this is totally small potatoes comparatively speaking.
We're all happy and healthy.
AND..... The Zoe pictures will continue to be uploaded weekly to flickr for your enjoyment.


I was a little embarrassed to send this, but writing it out and putting it on the line relieved some of my stress instantly. And really, I know very few people who have not been in our situation or who live on much less. I think the important thing is we're accepting that we've been working very hard to spend less and we are identifying that for us to succeed we need to take even further steps.

Part of the reason I felt my morale go down in the last month was that one of our ways to control our budget was to not go out. This included me/us not meeting friends for coffee, lunch, dinner, etc. I stopped communicating with people partly because if I didn't call or email they wouldn't invite me out and I could avoid saying I couldn't afford it. If I didn't call or email I wouldn't feel bad for not inviting them over for lunch or dinner because even a pizza and drinks seems like too large of an expense right now. If I didn't call or email I wouldn't have to answer the "What have you guys been up to?" question with "Nothing. We're on a tight budget and we just hang at home these days."

But I'm tired of all that. I'm tired of not just telling friends where we stand and why I'm sad or out of the loop. Last weekend we cleaned the house a bit and I'm looking forward to our friends coming over to hang out. Maybe we can plan some potlucks, or maybe they can come over just to watch a movie, play a game, or visit. I'm thinking we'll figure something out and that the lack of funds won't even matter.

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