Yeah, I know this picture has nothing at all to do with cutting costs. But it was too cute to pass up. His skin is getting a little orange tint, I notice. Can you tell I feed him a lot of squash and sweet potatoes? Oh, yeah, and there are carrots in just about all the mixed baby food varieties, it seems... When I was little, I LOVED carrots. At one point, the doctor told my mom to stop giving me so many carrots because I was turning orange. But I digress...
This morning I thought I'd write about cutting costs. Nobody likes to do it, but sometimes, it should be done. When we first moved here, we assumed that all our expenses would be so much lower than they were in Arlington that we got a little lax on our spending. Nothing major, but David started keeping better track of the finances on Quicken, and he realized this month that we weren't saving anymore. Bad. We were both a little shocked. After all, with much lower rent and a higher salary, shouldn't we be making out like bandits?
Well it turns out, not when you factor that all our transportation costs just doubled, since he's no longer getting his commute paid for by the Feds, and since I'm driving more now. Oh yeah, and did I mention that N.C. has ridiculously high car insurance rates? They nearly doubled... before we added a second car. Combine that with the fact that David started eating lunch out every day to get to know his new office mates, and Houston, we have a problem.
So we took a deep breath, and we're deep sixing some of our discretionary expenses. David's daily paper subscription is going bye-bye, and he won't be eating out lunch with anyone more than once a week for a little while. I'm going to keep a much tighter rein on the grocery budget. I'm going to pretend that I only have x amount to spend each week, and once it's gone, I have to start replanning menus or putting things back. The exception will be when we have a special event or company. Looks like I will also be going lite on my cable internet. Sigh. We won't be going out to eat as carelessly, and we'll be using more coupons for that. I'm hoarding my free chicken and coke coupon from Chick-a-lay for a rainy day when I really want to eat out for lunch.
And frankly, we're both a little crabby about our cost cutting. We look around us, and we see people living in gigantic, brand new houses, and we see their brand new furniture, brand new flat screen tvs, and nice new cars. And many of these are people about our age who are living on one income, just like us. Sometimes we look at it with incredulity. Something isn't adding up here. Either they have some sort of income stream that we don't know about... or they're up to their eyeballs in debt. I'm betting on the latter.
But with all this conspicuous consumption going on around us, it's easier to get discontented with a perfectly wonderful life. David and I don't really want anything more than what we have most of the time. It's when we get smacked upside the head with what everyone else has that discontentment starts gnawing. We don't want to be different. Why should we have to hold back from doing what everyone else is doing? If more people at his office brought their lunches to work, David would be able to eat lunch with others and still spend time with his co-workers. But they don't, spending on average about $3,000 a year on eating out daily, so he's the odd one out. If people bought smaller houses and didn't have all new furniture, I wouldn't feel self conscious about inviting them over to my cute little place. Why can't we all go back to a simpler, less expensive standard of living? I hate the desire within me to keep up with the Jones'. Must kill it...
I know this is all relative. David makes a good salary. The problem is not with what he makes. Our cost cutting is about trying to save more money for a house one day, not about trying to dig out of credit card debt or trying to stretch to feed our family. I am very thankful for what we have, and I'm so thankful that we can afford for me to stay home with Seth. It's just easy to whine when you're trying to deprive yourself in a culture of excess. =)