And we’re back!

Happy Monday everyone! For my fellow Americanos, I’m hoping you had a very nice Thanksgiving weekend. Personally, I really enjoyed mine which included food, wine, shopping, Rock Band 3, Scott Pilgrm vs the World, football, and lounging around. I crocheted a wine bag for a blind wine tasting I went to on Friday but I’m only mostly pleased anversus entirely pleased with it so I’m not posting it. I’m eagerly anticipating my yarn arrival though. Other than the wine bag, there was no crocheting this weekend which is just fine with me too. I needed a break and I really enjoyed myself in other ways.

Today is the last day of my pay cycle so I should do some sort of financial update I guess. It’s not rosy but it’s not dismal. I went over my budget by 2% or $109.40. I’m trying to not beat myself up too viciously for it because I think I showed a lot of restraint with the shopping– especially on Black Friday. I did end up in Toys R Us. I was the 202nd person in line and although I got the Little Tikes Gourmet Prep ‘n Serve Kitchen, the netbooks were long gone which was what I figured. But, the kitchen was the most essential thing so I was pleased. It was very hard to ignore the many other deals all around me on things I know my kids want but I kept my eyes on the prize.

What is dismal is the result of my first week of the finances of food challenge. Not only did I blow the budget, I blew the percentage too. Everything was great– until the weekend hit. The kids were with their father and cooking was the most inconvenient thing I could possibly conceive of. Not to mention, I was rarely home. So, in my first week I spent $127.95 of which $62.36 (49%) went to groceries and $65.59 (51%) went to dining out. I can’t believe I screwed up the first week like that. That just means I’m going to have to try even harder this week. The good thing is I have the kids this weekend and I tend to cook a lot more often when they’re with me because going out to eat with a three kid: 1 adult ratio is a bit of a nightmare. Honestly, just going out with the 3 kid: 1 adult ratio is a nightmare. So the only thing to overcome this week is the potential for ordering delivery. NO DELIVERY and I should be fine.

Reviewing my finances constantly is actually a really interesting activity for me. I sort of enjoy it and sort of hate it. I have 30 small categories ranging from Allowance to Home Improvement to Utilities- Water. These I roll up into 7 broader categories: Debt & Savings, Food, Fun, Home, Kids, Me, Transportation. Home expenses eat up 36% of my income. After that comes Debt & Savings at 20%, Kid-related expenses at 19%, Fun stuff at 10%, Food at 8%, Transportation at 7%, and little ol’ Me and my expenses at 3%. What makes me happy? I’m ok with my Top Three expenses being what they are. Yes I could find a cheaper house to live but I would be giving up so many fringe benefits that it would not be worth it to me for the next few years while my children are young. The fact that Debt and Savings payments are #2 on my list is a testament to how serious I am about becoming debt-free forever. That my kids are #3 isn’t surprising and isn’t anything I’m ashamed of either. For those who don’t know, yes kids are expensive.

What frustrates me? I feel pretty maxed out as far as sacrifices and cutbacks. I can make more, sure, but like the house situation– I start to feel like I’m at the point where cuts will start to equal a drastic affect on quality of life and kids further complicate the issue. And the cuts I can think of are all generally small things– $15 here, $25 there, $5 here, etc. Which I know add up and all that but I find those so excessively tedious, I sort of give up instead. This gets really aggravating when I went through the trouble of charting out all of the big ticket items I need and want to purchase in 2011 and figuring out how much I’d have to set aside each month to accomplish them. Well, my goals just aren’t realistic with my current income and expenses. So, it’s back to the drawing board with a pair of scissors to slash out a want here and there.


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