We've had to scrutinize our budget...something we've never really done before.
Cable went away a year ago. With Netflix, I don't even notice it's missing. Along with that was the home phone and frankly aside from a blatant lie from a salesman about how much more we save by bundling, I can't recall why we had one to begin with.
- My cell phone contract is up in October. I've had a work cell for nearly 5 years now and again, aside from the novelty of playing games on my phone, I have no reason to have a personal cell.
- It's taken some work, but various student loans are entirely manageable now. Well, with the exception of one from Oklahoma that until they began garnishing my wages, I didn't know I had. That's a crappy realization. They want me to pay half down in order to discuss removing the garnishment and setting up a payment plan. They seem to think nothing of the fact that they are crippling me and were anything but fair about the garnishment option. Hello, if you can find my employer after a 24 hour search (time between the judgement and the notification of garnishment), you could have found my address within the 10 years prior (9 1/2 of which weren't at the address you kept sending mail to!).
- My wife began couponing like the crazies on TV a few months back. If it weren't for my irrational need to eat produce, meat and dairy NOT FROM A CAN, our grocery bill would be even smaller. That said, we're down to $65 a week for 4 mouths, 3 meals a day, 7 days a week. This was the biggest challenge. I have to admit that I wasn't completely comfortable at first but the amount of free crap you get by doing so is unfathomable! That said, I was super proud of myself this week when I was picking up some yogurt for my lunches this week I scored several these 6 packs of Dannon yogurt for the kids at 9 cents each after coupons! The guy at the register did a double take when he read the amount to me.
So how is it possible? Another thing we'd NEVER done. We plan every meal on Saturday for the Sunday through Saturday following. Our grocery shopping is organized around it. Now, on Sunday when the ads come out in the paper, we augment some meals depending on the deals. I'm not going to lie, I miss my typical spontaneity regarding cooking and on the spot shopping. You know picking up salmon on the way home and throwing together a mango avocado pico with almond apricot couscous. But the brief moments of creativity in the grocery aisle are greatly overshadowed by the decidedly less stressful event of knowing exactly what I'm cooking when I get home. I can't tell you the number of times I'd be stuck in traffic pulling teeth over the phone to find out what my wife wanted me to cook for dinner. Yes you should get the picture now...I'm the cook with lunch time pb&j exceptions.
- What is also the biggest change is that we only eat out once a month. This includes my lunches. I'll be honest, I'd usually only spend $3-5 bucks at lunch but then there was the random stopping for something to drink while on the road or the $10 lunch splurges and whatnot. It adds up quickly.
- Alcohol was the most recent phase. I can drink me some beer. I'm not going to say alcoholic is a possible description, more like Al Bundy...though I'd never compare myself to him in a million years!
These last few things have had a grand side effect too! I cut soda (diet) out except for rare occasions and had been watching my portions since the beginning of the year. Combine that with the lack of fast food and minimal beer intake and you've got a 35 pound lighter Dorn in your midst. Just think what could happen if I actually exercised on a regular basis.
You know what's more astonishing? Spending time with the kids occupies a lot of time that I'm now not sure how we filled it with as much going out as we did.
Getting back to the whole reevaluation. Because I've always worked toward moving up in companies that require relocation, we're still renting 8 years later. We've paid $1100 a month toward someone else's mortgage every month for the past 5 years. We've looked at buying a house several times but houses we can afford (around the 200K range) are in the ghetto and I'm not doing it.
So we've been kicking around the idea of moving back to our home town of Tulsa, OK for a bit now. Nothing is set, especially since I haven't gotten a job relo or anything. But my brother-in-law bought a home a little smaller than ours for 60K a couple years ago. That right there tells me I could easily find one for around 100K that'd suit our needs and still not be in the ghetto. Not joking when I say that 150K will put you between a crack dealer and a homeless guy in Austin. This isn't NYC for christsakes!
So, now I have to make the real decision. Do I pursue opportunities in Tulsa or should I look for a higher paying job here? I'm marketable within the company, but outside I'm just another name on a resume that doesn't have a masters degree, 20 years of experience and is willing to work for 20K a year in a job landscape that the Ukraine would kill for and we should be ashamed it's in America.
OK, so I'm rambling and just started bashing countries that I have no beef with while wagging my tongue at my own. It's time to call it a day.