Last night my wife and I did what hundreds of millions of people worldwide do. No, I’m not talking about that. We looked at our paychecks and bills, and tried to figure out a way to make sure we are in the black each month. Since our economy is like seaweed wrapped around your ankle as you try to swim, we've been feeling, well, frustrated. Life is expensive. So it was time to budget
We’ve been paring our expenses down and down until we’re left with a lean and taut thing, not an ounce of fat left. Or so we thought. Thanks to Mint, we are able to look in seat-squirming detail at every purchase. Our only “fun” expense now is for basic cable and a mail-order video subscription (no, not Netflix, the other one). Snip! Ten dollars saved by cutting the video service. Now our only variable cost is food. Based on our hellacious bills, you’d think there would be room to cut. We went through our grocery list, striking out non-essentials. Strawberry ice cream? Cut. Tater Tots? Cut. Breakfast cereal was debated (I pay $3.99 for the dog-food-sized bag of Generic-ee-os) and left. Steak? Cut. Interestingly, the items left on the list tend to be store perimeter items. Tonight I finally get to go to the store. I’ve been waiting almost a week, straddling the no-man’s land between zero cash and payday. I will go armed with my budget amount, some coupons, the grocery store flier, and Scottish thriftiness that runs in my bloodline. Ten cents for that onion? Ehhhh, could we get it down to five?
One of the bright spots in our budget is the possibility for [gasp!] profit from Aurora Bakery. I have an inside line on some really cheap flour. (I talked to a guy, who maybe knows someone from the docks, who’s got a brother who’s a stevedore, who maybe had some flour fall off a pallet. I do him a favor, pay in non-consecutive bills in a suitcase under the bench by Pier 14, maybe we do bidness.) Calculating out the precise cost for each loaf is much harder than it seems, especially since it involves math, which leads to sweaty forehead. But if I’m able to expand my market, improve my product, and lower expenses, I just might have enough to buy myself one plain bean burrito each month. Life with the glitterati, baby!
Finally, Baby Harbat does not have H1N1 flu. This is only news because the daycare called yesterday to say she had a fever of 103.6. She was fine in the morning, and fine when I picked her up. I guess babies are cool like that—sickness is no big thing. If I had a fever that high, I’d be belly-crawling through the house, moaning and hallucinating. She just wanted to play outside. After a doctor’s visit, it turns out it’s another ear infection, rounding her off to an even hundred so far. It’s like this kid has flashing neon signs on her ears: “Free room and board, all bacteria welcome!”