Back when I was gainfully employed by corporate America (ah, those were the days), I had money.
Of course, I still am technically gainfully employed by the aforementioned corporate America, but that ends on Friday and I’m already feeling that pinch. You know the pinch I’m talking about, right? Even if you haven’t experienced it personally, it’s that ‘grad student waiting tables to make ends meet’ pinch that young Keri Russell type heroines so often live through in romantic comedies?
I’m pretty sure the movie about me comes out any day now, in case you’re wondering. They’re just letting Ellen Page and Natalie Portman duke it out to decide who gets to play me.
Until those royalty checks start rolling in, I’m going to need to take a more serious approach to my budget.
Specifically, my food budget.
My boyfriend Crockett and I are young (as I said, if 40 is the new 20, then 29 is the new 12 and a half). We’re childless. Until next Friday, we had two full incomes. (I’m aware the tenses in that sentence are all messed up. I can’t think of a better way to say it and anyway OBVIOUSLY you know what I mean because you’re smart.) We live in a small, fun town that’s in between two larger, fun cities. We’re neither of us passionate cooks, although he has been known to cowboy up to the grill from time to time and I do put together the occasional gigantic plate of pasta deliciousness.
We eat out a lot.
Like, a LOT a lot.
It’s not cheap, people. I knew that before, when my food budget was cutting into my ModCloth budget, but now my food budget is cutting into my mortgage budget. Which, even though ModCloth is full of the cute, may be slightly more important.
I understand how to save money on food. Even if I didn’t, there are websites that are just dying to help me spend less money on food (Cheap Healthy Good and Budget Bytes being two of my favorites so far). Between those sites and my regular old brain power, I’ve made some rules that I fully intend to follow. Probably.
- Stop ordering alcoholic beverages when we go out to eat.
HAAAHHAHAH hHHAHAH hhah. Ahahah. Ha ha. *Wipes tears from eyes*. Ok, seriously now.
- Stop eating out so much. While I’m not sure how the budgeting website people feel about this, I’m going to try to keep it to once a week.
- When I do eat out, order intelligently. For example, yesterday at lunch I had the $6 cup of green chili and the $4 beer special, instead of the $8 bowl of chili and $7 glass of wine I would normally have had. $5 saved, just like that.
- Shop intentionally. This one is my biggest problem. I buy things thinking they look delicious and I’ll surely figure out something to do with them, right? Then, two weeks later, I fish the slimly beets out of the back of the fridge and deposit them directly into the trash can. When I was in college, my then boyfriend and I would go to breakfast at Dennys (yeah, I know) with a stack of cookbooks and plan our meals for the week, make the list of things we’d need, and then hit the grocery store(s) on the way home. Perhaps I should readopt that habit, if only to stop Laura from yelling at me every time we’re on the phone and I’m cleaning out my refrigerator.
- Avoid convenience foods. I’m not a huge offender here, but energy bars and diet Red Bull are not cheap, people. Can you make your own diet Red Bull? Where does one get taurine?
- Eat less. Not in an Urban Outfitters way.In a ‘would an appetizer be enough food tonight or am I in the mood for a whole burger?’ kind of way. In a ‘if I stop eating these french fries now, will I have enough left over to make a side dish for lunch tomorrow?’ kind of way.
There you go. Emma’s handy dandy tips for continuing to pay your mortgage. I’ll thank myself when I’m not living under a bridge somewhere.
If you’re interested in hearing more about my struggles-with-budgeting (and why wouldn’t you be), why not go see what happened when I went to the mall to return some clothes?