Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Big Bad Budget

Today was a rocky beginning. I woke at 5:30 being punched in the face by tiny fists. My baby boy, despite fighting sleep until 8pm last night, was up early and was having none of my attempts to get him to sleep just a little bit longer.

"Mike." I shoved my husband. Another shove. He is a heavy sleeper. I heard a muffled sound that let me know he was slightly awake.

"I need you to wake up with the baby. I know you work late but I need you to wake up with the baby just this once so that every time I wake up with him in the morning from now on, I'll know that it's not forever and that someday I'll get to sleep again." I was panicky, my voice rising in the dark. "If you do, for just one hour, I'll let you come back to bed and sleep as long as you want." I would have promised him the world at that point, because at that moment I was convinced that my sanity depended on his coparenting.

Ender cooed, grabbing my face.  I gave Mike another shove.

"As long as I want?" I nodded ferociously.

"Yes yes. Sure." He said, stumbling out of bed and I let out a sigh of relief. "Wait. I have to go pick up the bed from my parent's today." All muscles that were relaxed tightened again. Mike works the afternoon shift, meaning he gets to sleep in. If he wakes up early, he needs a nap so that he won't fall asleep at the wheel of his forklift.

So, with much remorse, he returned to bed and I pulled myself up, with the tearful conclusion that I would never sleep again. After a cup of coffee of course, I returned to my senses. But still, life as a mom, with all that work stretching before me, seemingly without end, can be a daunting one. And I, when deprived of company, food and sleep, fall back to the same obsession: The Budget.

The Budget has come and gone in our marital environment from day one. Being transient workers as we are, it is constantly changing. Our rent changes from year to year, our pay changes from month to month, and while we wouldn't have it any other way, it means it is easy to stop paying attention and overspend. It also means that every time we take a pay cut, I feel like I'm standing on the precipice of disaster. "You need to smoke less." I wheedle at Mike, picturing myself somehow cutting expenses by cooking large amounts of pasta and freezing it, or something. "Lentils!" I shout, as though this vegetarian war cry will save my bank account from its untimely overdraft.

The fact of the matter is, I haven't the first idea how to cut back expenses. I do know how to track expenses, which is usually sufficient to stop that inbetween money from disappearing. Ten dollars here and there really adds up, and I'm nothing if not an impulse spender. Occasionally we implement the 'jar system' which helps. But every time The Budget returns, I can't help but feel that I'm not doing enough. Surely there is some way to cook less expensively?! This is our largest money drain. So dear readers, I shall begin to blog, starting today, on my new journey with food. Cheap food. Hopefully still good food. No more duck pate, or creme anglais, no.

Tonight's project: Ground chicken with spaghetti squash. It is budget friendly because I bought it already. The goal: To spend no more than one hundred dollars a week on groceries.
The major offenders: Dairy in general. We go through approximately six litres of milk a week, one pint of cream, a bar of butter and two large sticks of cheese. Bread is expensive and Mike uses a lot for his lunches. If I could effectively bake my own (I've failed at four loaves in a row, in my breadmaker no less) then that would save some cash too.

I'm optimistic, and in a better mood than I was when I woke this morning. Proactivity always helps.

In other news, we are expecting a houseguest for the month. A friend of ours who is interning at CBC radio. I'm looking forward to the company!

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