Saturday, 31 October 2015

Some Months are Just Like That...

SIGH. My 3 year old has a cough and it's been keeping us both up at night. I feel tired and dare I say a little grumpy! It's funny how the best laid plans, gone unfulfilled, can later trip me up and make things harder to see, my budget plan for October didn't make it past "go" and I have felt like it is impossible to post about budgets and frugality when I am having such a hard time living it. I feel a real responsibility to be accountable for what I say in my blog. If I say I am going to reduce grocery spending then it is on my mind all the time. If groceries come in higher than the budget it is not the end of the world but I do feel a tremendous amount of anxiety that I am not fulfilling the goals that I have laid out here in this space (even though they are really only for my own motivation). As a result I have avoided the subject, ceased to blog, and feel like a frugal failure. I have decided to list what "went wrong" this month and some ideas to try for November (tomorrow already!?)

  • I was all set to get groceries using cash, according to My Plan. I had withdrawn $700 for the month, which was to include dog and cat food and some items for a winter stockpile of food. First trip out I got extra flour and coffee, both at reduced prices but bringing my grocery total to higher than I intended. The real strike-out, though, was forgetting to pay in cash and using the MasterCard out of habit. Same things week number 2! Apparently, old habits are hard to break...
  • So now I am packing around a wad of cash, which I can't seem to remember to spend. But Husband, oh Husband the MasterCard is going up and the cash is going down, do you see where this story is headed?
  • Husband's family is in Newfoundland, all the way across this big country. We send our Christmas packages with a truck-driving friend who happened through town this month. Enter Christmas shopping, and an educational toy party, and now you have some extra spending that was bound to happen sometime but certainly adds to my sense of failure. 
  • Did I mention that we got a barn?
I suppose in the interest of a balanced argument I could add that by spending too much on groceries one week I received our Halloween candy as the free gift (we live on a secluded road and never get trick-or-treaters so where do you think that chocolate is going to end up?). The other free gift that I received was a lovely 7 piece appetizer serving set which will be donated as part of my gift to a woman and her children fleeing family violence. Every year I do up Christmas gifts for a family at the women's shelter. I found one of our Halloween costumes at the thrift store that supports the same shelter. It was $6 rather than $30-40 had I purchased it new. It ended up being too short for my rather tall 3 year old, so my mom added a "belt" of extra material to the waistline of the costume from material she had on hand. Frugal and fantastic? Aye! The 5 year old didn't seem concerned about having a costume for his kindergarten party so I didn't either, but as it approached I remembered last year's paper-hand-drawn-batman symbol scotch taped to a black t-shirt and I began to worry that I would look like the uncaring mother that didn't bother to try....this school gig is mostly about keeping up appearances in so many ways, and I am surprised when I get sucked in. As much as I would like to dress my kids in things we have around the house it seems that store bought is the trend, and I gladly accepted a friend's offer to lend us a power rangers outfit that her kids weren't using. I fashioned a mask from a Superman mask and cape that we had and voila, Halloween for less than $10!

Husband does the pumpkin carving 'round these parts. Not bad, eh? 

October used to be a month that I counted on to help us get ahead...there are 5 Fridays in October which, for us, means 5 paydays. I used to sit and look at our accounts and always put the extra paycheck either into savings or against whatever payment had the highest interest. This year it felt like October brought unforeseen spending rather than extra income, but I have to admit that some months are just like that. I have most of the cash to spend on next month's groceries and I need to try harder to stick to my plan. But I realize that the pressure I've been putting on myself regarding the budget is unnecessary and not helpful at all. I don't need to go around with rocks in my stomach because things didn't go according to plan this month. I spent more on groceries than I had planned but we have extra pet food for winter and food for ourselves. I am letting it go so that I can turn a new page with a new month beginning tomorrow. Onward and upward, yo!

This picture has nothing to do with the post, but aren't my kids cute?!


  1. Definitely do not feel like a frugal failure! This is life and we have to take it with all the ups and the downs. As you said some months are like this. Key is to learn from this month and get back up on the wagon. And sometimes blogging about the bad bits can give you new perspective which we all usually need mid-month.

    Suggestion for November: Some would say to leave your credit card at home when you go grocery shopping. I won't because I'd have heart palpitations if I didn't have at least 2 credit cards with me. Instead why don't you take it out of your wallet and put it somewhere else in your purse. This way when you go to pay you'll reach for the wallet which has cash but no credit card. Or wrap a note around your credit card that says use cash. That will remind you!
    ~ Pru

    1. OMG! What a simple solution and one that I would NEVER have thought of! I also hate to leave without a credit card--it's a half hour drive to town and I envision needing a tow-truck with two crying kids or something and no money...chances of that are slim but it is my nature to always be prepared! But something as simple as moving the credit card would remind me to use cash. Such a great suggestion. Thanks!