January is the cruelest month. It is just such a financial struggle. I don’t have bills due from Christmas (I paid cash this year–woot!) but I did spend down to the bottom of the account with no carryover. Our property taxes are due January 1, and my car tax quadrupled because I have a new car. Then there are beginning of the year fees for JCC and swimming lesson fees (I really should have thought that one out better) and for us, it’s also medicine buying time. We only buy 4 times a year and the copays are enormous. Normally, we get that money back (from flexible spending account) in a few weeks, but not in January. That doesn’t kick in until February. So yes, we will get it back in late February–but I want it now!
So, yes, let’s cue the world’s tiniest violins for the my tiny little first world problems. Waah waah waah. I have a relatively new car, my kid gets excellent after school care and swimming lessons and I have health insurance. Waah, waah, waah.
So I’m counting the days until January 31, and am trying to make it from here to there by being very, very careful with my money, not eating out at all, and eating through our cupboards and freezers. I set a 60 dollar budget for groceries from yesterday through January 31. We usually spend about 125 a week, BUT
we’re I’m awful about over-buying on produce. I always feel like I need a big selection of fruits and vegetables, and then we end up throwing out a lot. Since Selam gets a variety of fruit and veggies in her school lunch and often at after school snack, I tend to think she won’t die from having only one kind of fruit a week for a while. This might be a permanent change. I’m also awful about loading up the cupboards with stuff. So, we’ll be digging into that pile of pasta, rice, beans and tomatoes.
Yesterday, I spent $11.41 at the grocery store, so we’re down to 48.59. I bought a rotisserie chicken, which should last us 4 days or so. Selam loves meat and I’m not a good cook for meat (left to my own devices, I’d be a pescetarian), so this should be sandwich and main course fodder for a few days, and will eventually end up as soup or pasta. I also got yogurt and some hot dogs for Selam. Tomorrow, Selam has a birthday party at a bowling alley next to a grocery store, so we’ll pick up milk and bread and carrots.
Today I’m making soup, using stuff from the freezer and cupboards. It’s a faux Olive Garden pasta fagiole. I was only missing one ingredient (celery). Not bad. The dying bananas (see earlier comment about overbuying) will become banana muffins later today.
I’m hoping that I can make it on this money. I hope it will teach me more about my buying habits and make me a bit better about using my food money. The truth is, though, that if I don’t make it, my family will not starve. I have a bit more wiggle room than that, and if I have to dig into my small savings (earmarked for Disney), I can. And that is what makes this a tiny little first world problem.
It’s also what makes me very grateful.
Very, very grateful.