Sunday, April 20, 2008

Why I'm Broke, Probably

Tomorrow, I start a financial remodel of most of my life. Last week, I looked over my checking account statement from last month, and nearly had a heart attack: in a month, I spent over $700 on groceries, eating out, and lunch at work, just on that one card--that doesn't even include what I might have spent on those things on any of my other cards. Ouch.

Groceries are the least of my problems. I budget about $150 a week for groceries, and most often I come in well under that, unless there's some kind of special meal coming up. Tonight, for example, I discovered that the Safeway around the corner from my house is going to stop carrying sugar-free Kool-Aid. Horrified to find their entire stock of Sugar-free Kool-Aid on the clearance rack, I bought it all--45 boxes--for $1 a box. I also complained to the manager of the store, who told me that there wasn't much he could do about it. Shmuck.

Also not the problem: Dan. He packs his lunches, and takes salad with chicken breasts and whole-wheat pasta tossed in. His lunches are a grand total of about $3 a day.

Max's daycare provides lunch for him. Have I happened to mention how much I love Max's daycare? She is a licensed home daycare, she's got years of experience and four kids of her own. There's no TV, she has a curriculum and planned activities every day, and Max gets a healthy breakfast, lunch, and two snacks a day. Not only that, but he's treated like a part of her family, and he loves it so much there he practically jumps out of the moving car when we pull into her driveway. All of this for $135 a week! Anyway, Max's breakfast and lunch is included in the daycare cost, so he's not the problem.

The problem is me: I go to work incredibly early in the morning and work next door to a Giant--it's too easy for me to pick up something for breakfast, run back across the street to hit the salad bar at lunch, and avail myself of the chilled sodas in the coolers near the checkout lane. There goes $10 a day, easy.

So, I am going to be attempting to plug the leak. Here are the rules:

$30 a week for lunches and breakfasts.
I'll carry my lunch at least two days a week. (Dammit, I hate carrying my lunch.)
Dan and I will not go out more than twice in a week, including Friday night, which is our regular night, and our weekend breakfasts at Eastern Market (I will really miss that.)
More water, less soda, and I'll buy a case of Diet Coke and drink those, rather than purchasing 20-ounce sodas for $1.39 each.
No more than one Starbucks a week (Dammit again!)
I will post what I spend every day, so that you will all help me be accountable.

Any other suggestions?


Treen said...

I buy pop the opposite way, one at a time, so that I don't consume a 12 pack a day. It's diet, but still. I have no control.

I think that posting it will be really good, because it will make you more conscious of it. Which is why I should probably keep a food/calorie diary but am too lazy.

One way I cut back on costs is by eating places that I don't have to tip (like Panera, which is great food but still operates on the pay for your food and go sit down basis) rather than sit-down full service restaurants all the time...because server karma guilt gets to me and I tend to overtip ridiculously.

Also, G and I like to go to this awesome lebanese restaurant because the prices are reasonable but the giant portions leave us with leftovers to eat for a couple days...cutting out a few meals.

And as an actual to go server, I will endorse that ordering take out from restaurants can be cheaper because you don't have to tip as much. Great tips are appreciated, but they usually make more per hour in take out because people tip less and a 10% tip is considered pretty good.

And as for Starbucks, you can lurk outside and jump unsuspecting coffee drinkers and steal their coffee.

Kimberly said...

I have had similar budget doom moments. Michael and I have started taking leftovers for lunch, which requires more planning than I'm generally cool with, but has helped us both to save money and to not eat so much at dinner. We put the lunch portions instantly in to-go containers before we eat dinner. And I totally get the "damn" factor. Like I blogged last week, there is just something wonderful about somebody else making your coffee for you.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

Don't let the cashiers at Giant talk you in to giving a dollar to charity every time you go to the store.

That crap adds up.

Candy said...

Financially speaking, we're living the exact life.

I have to find a way to stop spending money on lunch. It's killing me.

I decided that this weekend I'm going to make the things I love the most and bring those. So that means pasta dishes. I will eat that every day, and not grow tired of it. And you're right about the coke.

I'm going to follow along...starting Monday ;)