Food-as-therapy

I was reading over on Motherese blog a few weeks ago, where Kristen has been writing about being overcommitted and experiencing Guilty Boredom which got me to thinking…  Wow, I really don’t do much.  I mean, I work part-time, care for my one child and home and that seems to be all I can handle.  I’ve come to accept that Mike and I don’t do schedules of any kind, so we fly by the seats of our pants, every day.  We just don’t have the will to stick to any sort of schedule.  Because it isn’t just about how we spend our time.  Mike and I have the same problems with budgeting, or rather, with sticking to a budget.

We’re middle-aged adults.  We’ve managed money responsibly for many years now.  We’re conservative financially, or at least we always used to be.  I’m pretty cheap if I do say so myself.  In all my wondering about what’s going on with our money, why does so much of it go away without our feeling like we’re getting anywhere, I keep coming back to our food budget.  I have a ridiculously high grocery budget.  Seriously, I budget for us to spend $150.00 a week, not including formula and that’s basically food for two adults because Liam hardly eats anything.  And we seem to spend about that much many weeks.  And then I budget for us to go out to eat at least once a week.  And we often exceed that as well.  We could more easily afford other things if we did not eat so much of our income.  Did I say eat?  We drink a lot of our income too.

Sometimes I count this as a cost of working outside the home.  I don’t have time to cook a meal three days a week, and frankly I don’t feel like it on each of the other four.  If I stayed at home, I could cook all our food from scratch and we’d spend a lot less on food, right?  But the more I think about it, the more I realize that may not be entirely true.  I mentioned in my previous post about how Mike and I don’t do what we’re supposed to when we’re in a funk.  Well, we each separately spend more time than we’d like in that state.  It  happens often.  Mike comes home from a rotten day at the office and suggests that we go out for dinner, even though we have food we should cook.  I say yes because I can hardly bring myself to say no to eating out.  And sometimes when I’m the one who’s had a rough day, he’ll suggest we go out then.  We have probably spent double our budget on restaurant meals this past month.  Part of that is our vacation of course, but quite a lot of it was us trying to make ourselves feel better about going to visit my in-laws.  And sure I love blaming my in-laws for things, who doesn’t?  But my family can and does bum us out as well and drive us out to our favorite local pub.

Anyway, it’s really predictable, and it’s kind of sad.  We are spending too much on food (and alcohol) and we aren’t exercising enough to stay in shape and we live in a dirty house right now because we haven’t found constructive ways to deal with our life’s problems.  I mean, it’s not retail therapy (Mike’s an anti-hoarder and I’m cheap).  But it is very similar otherwise.  My argument was going to be that Mike’s job costs us and him dearly, and I still say that’s true.  But if Mike got a new job working for AwesomeCo, his parents and sisters would be the same.  My family would be the same.  And while working for AwesomeCo would certainly pay him enough for me to quit my job without any further degradation of our standard of living, it would probably not teach either him or me to more effectively limit the effects of our extended families on our life together.

How do we limit these things?  We live 1000 miles from my in-laws and half that distance from my family.  It’s not like people are coming into our home and giving us a hard time.  We don’t spend every vacation with family.  That would be nuts!  It’s really hard for them to criticize our every parenting decision when they don’t get to see how we’re parenting and we don’t tell them over the phone what we’re doing.  How can they be so effective at pushing our buttons?  How do we put a stop to it?

Well, the main point I have is that after about three months of trying to get our expenses (and my weight) under control, I realize that the lack of a budget was only about half the problem.  I feel it would be hypocritical of me to continue to write about budgeting, though if I find any other cool ways of saving money, I will still pass those along.

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