Getting through the day, one cup at a time.

The Money Crunch

on June 5, 2012

So, I may have mentioned that I’m poor. I have a LOT of consumer debt from back when I was making bad decisions, and being a stay at home mom doesn’t mean it’s ‘roll in the dough’ time. Don’t get me wrong, we’re doing all right. I’ve managed to more than half my double digit debt in the past three years, but I’ve reached an impasse. I get into a cycle where I will scrimp to pay off some debt, and then feel bad about myself for being poor and scrimping so that I incur more debt by spending money on a whole bunch of ‘little’ things to buy my happiness. Or something. The details are still hazy.

What this all boils down to is that I have wrapped my MasterCard up in paper and have vowed to not use it at all for the next 30 days. That is one billing cycle for the card. I have moved the burden of grocery purchasing to my bank account (where it should be, let’s be honest) and this cuts my monthly grocery budget by 33%. Ouch. So NOT ONLY will we not be indulging in any fast fooderies over the next 30 days (oh, my Timmies and McCoffees) but I will also be reverting to some of my ‘dirt-poor’ standby meals to help stretch the dollars.

I’m putting this out there because A) I feel sad. I miss having spare money that can be used for a pizza, new shirt, or “going out of business” sale items; B) Now I have more motivation; and C) Cheap and easy recipes (money or grocery gift cards, haha…ha…sigh) would be appreciated.

Thanks guys.

Does anyone else find themselves in over their head? Or am I the only one who likes to flex my wallet to prove that I am happy and such?


41 responses to “The Money Crunch

  1. betsyk1 says:

    Hang in there! 🙂

  2. Aunt Jodi says:

    I owe the government about $20K for my student loans. I took out the loans because part of OSAP is a loan, and the other part is a grant (read: free). So even though I owe lots and lots, I got about $3K for free.. hello rent, textbooks and groceries! (read: shoes, clothes, sushi, junk food etc etc etc).

    So I spent the ‘free’ money, and saved the loan money to pay it back when school is over. Now I’m doing school online, and spending my way through that $20K that’s just sitting in the bank because I’m too lazy to get a job. I’m putting myself into debt at a rate of about $600 a month…oops… I need to get myself under control 😦

    • Sometimes it’s so much easier to spend your money on the things that you want. I just get so bummed out about not being able to buy a sushi lunch when I want to, that I decide that I can do WHATEVER I want. This leads to the sushi lunch (on a credit card, of course) and then some clearance clothes for the kids (because I feel bad about buying myself sushi) and maybe a bag of junk food for later because I’m gonna want to eat myself into a hole when I think about what I’ve done.

      • I can so completely relate to this comment! I get the same way, like I’m just going to burst open if I don’t buy something. Really it’s about the freedom for me to buy something, I think. Then I go crazy with buying, then feel guilty, etc., etc. I did a financial management course, and I am learning to do some better money management, but mostly for me it’s just about WILLPOWER. Which I don’t have a lot of, unfortunately. I kind of just have to take it on a day by day basis, trying to do the best thing with my money.

  3. I hear you! We’re on a pastor’s salary now. But who’s complaining? Never me. 😉
    We miss some of our previous perks as well.

    • I just struggle to find comfort in the days to come. I have struggled for my entire life with money, and although I am by no means (in my opinion) a materialistic person, I long for the days of buying full price meats and paying for all of the lessons that my children want to be in. To be able to purchase a bus pass AND pay for swimming. Gas for our trips to the zoo. Tuition so I can start my schooling.

      All things come to those who wait, I guess. And once I am finished with this mountain of debt, I will be able to so much more appreciate my freedoms.

      • myhonestself says:

        All things come to those who work! My father worked so hard to drill that into my head growing up….funny how I had to learn on my own – the hard way!

      • I am praying right now for someone to step up in your area that can help you out in some significant way weekly, monthly, whatever… Someone, a very special someone, did this for us recently when we miscarried in the middle of moving to a new state, community, school, everything. This family has an organic farm and literally brought us baskets of food every Thursday for months. It blessed us on so many levels. I pray this for you, someone(s) to encourage and bless you, locally, beyond measure.

  4. victorialb says:

    gosh we are also in a similar situation with medical school debt. I’m also a spender and not a saver so it’s hard! I have some favorite cheap but also semi-fancy and delicious recipes I make a lot. maybe I’ll post them or send them to you! hang in there!

    • Thanks! I’d appreciate that. It’s hard because I know what needs to be done as far as my spending goes, but then I feel like I am withholding things (tasty awesome meals, for example) from my kids. And that’s not fair. Sheesh!

  5. lorajbanks says:

    Yet another thing we have in common. The debt part, not the trying to pay it off part. Anyway, it’s yard sale season! I bet you have one or two toys you could lose. And for cheap and easy recipes, my suggestion would be to learn how to roast sweet potatoes to your liking. They beef up every meal…like salads, breakfast or a side dish with some other veggies in it. It’s a good time to scrimp because all of the produce is in season and a little cheaper. Also, at the farmer’s market I got a bunch (as much as you could grab was the actual rule) for $2. You can get some good deals if you look around! Hang in there…most people are in the same boat!

  6. We fall into a cycle too. Sometimes our debt seems so insurmountable we figure we’ll never pay it off anyway, we might as well have fun. But then we get even further behind. *sigh* Keep on plugging… you’ll get there! In the meantime, look for foods that expand when you cook them…. oatmeal, beans, rice, pasta… and replace meat with cheese and eggs. That’s our budget grocery tactic. Good luck!

  7. myhonestself says:

    Its really too bad we couldn’t meet for coffee and talk this one out!!! I’ve got so much to say! I was once a 21yr old mother of 2 with an astronomical (and disgusting) amount of credit card debt – most of it simply from over spending on things I did not need. Basically is was a matter of spending more than I made and it was a vicious circle. The credit card was my enemy & best friend all wrapped up in one quick swipe. The good news – I am not 25 with no credit card debt at all (my balance is currently a big fat $0!). It took a lot of work and will power but it’s doable! I do have debt (school & car) but those I consider investments in comparison to what I used to rack up on my credit card Put your credit card away for long enough and eventually it won’t even be an option in your mind. Good luck – If I could do it you can too!

  8. Palatka Mom says:

    How alike we are………I completely understand what you’re going through. You can do it!!! I just hope I can too!! :~)

    • I keep telling myself that one rough stingy year would fix most of it, but it’s so hard to commit to another AWFUL year!

      • Palatka Mom says:

        I promise that you and I are in EXACTLY the same boat right now. I HATE feeling poor and I really don’t like having to make up excuses to the kids about something as simple as why Friday night is no longer pizza night. It makes me feel like I’m telling them lies, but I don’t want them to worry. That would just be wrong. So, I make homemade pizzas instead or proclaim that Friday nights are themed dinner nights according to what movie we’re going to watch. When it gets tough, remember that I am right there struggling with you……….and I’m only a few thousand miles away. :~)

  9. I TOTALLY get where you’re coming from. And I’m older and supposed to be wiser so that makes it that much worse 🙂 We only have ONE CC now and the only thing we use it for is to pay the phone bill. The Zen Master sagely keeps it out of my reach. I leave my debit card at home unless I have to buy gas. For groceries, I (try to) go once a week and get only what’s on the list, a list which I make with the grocery circular thingy… Chicken leg quarters- always cheap and easy to cook. Add a blue box and some store brand frozen veggies and you are good to go for about $2 per person.
    Oh, and to what lazyhippiemomma said about replacing meat with cheese and eggs? That really depends on where you are and the availability of stuff but here at least, comparing protein and price oz for oz, cheap chicken usually ends up on top. Cheese and eggs are great but not always the cheapest choice. (boneless, skinless chicken breast at 1.99/lb is WAY less than the “value size” block of store brand cheddar at 3.49/lb plus we’re much more likely to use the chicken b4 it goes bad). Beans are definitely a good alternative too.

    • myhonestself says:

      A whole chicken goes a long way and lots of times I find them super cheap at the store! (Even better – go late at night and get the already made ones on discount!) Cook it once, use it for so many different things: salad, soup, shake & bake style, chicken sandwiches, pasta with chicken, the list is never ending! And since I’m lazy when it comes to meal making I love cooking it once, take it all apart and freeze it separately in meal size portions. Only one mess to clean as well! Save your broth for homemade chicken and whatever you want soup! Chicken & rice, noodles, veggies, another list that’ll never end!

    • Mmm! We love to cook with beans. I’ve got some really good standby recipes, they just make me feel…poor. Haha, I guess it’s because they’re all I used to eat back in the day, and being in this situation again (although completely my fault) makes me feel all tight chested and brings up bad memories. I’ll live though!

  10. kebibarra says:

    Hey girl! I’ve nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. YAY!!!

  11. jkossowan says:

    Oh, goodness. I totally feel your pain. What is it about those ‘just out of high school’ years that leads us to make such poor financial decisions?! I did the exact same thing. My parents were very supportive for my first few years of university and I worked {nearly} full-time, yet I still signed up for those student loans and credit cards so that I could buy everyone nice Christmas presents, take weekend trips home, and afford to buy myself nice things once and a while. Dumb, dumb, DUMB.

    I am not at all passing the blame elsewhere, (because let’s face it – I was the one swiping that credit card in order to purchase new $200 shoes back in the day), but as a teacher, I really wish we did a better job of educating students on things like how to create and follow a monthly budget and what credit is and why it’s important. I truly don’t think I understood enough about all of that stuff before moving out on my own.

    I’m several years older than you, so I can tell you that it DOES get easier. After university, I got my act together, got rid of my credit cards, and started paying things off. It took me until a year ago, but I can very happily say that at 30 years old, I finally am completely debt free. Lesson learned! It sounds like you’re well on your way too! You can do it!

    • Thank you! And I really do agree about the curriculum improvements. I’ve mentioned this to people before, but can you imagine a course that gave you an average salary (or minimum…that one would be more realistic) and then promptly deducted taxes, CPP, and any other deductions from it. Then challenged the students to choose ‘appropriate’ accomodations, pay rent/mortgage, a phone bill, internet bill, car insurance, gas, groceries, and everything they could think of. Once all of the money is gone they should challenge the students to find ways to cut corners, make extra money, or remove excess expenses from their lives. Share a pretend apartment with a classmate? Save on rent.

  12. I’ve been pretty good with my money but I know that terrible feeling of feeling constrained. Definitely research “budget recipes” online and you’ll come up with a bunch of pocket-friendly recipes. Also, if you don’t already do so, shop from a list so that you don’t get tempted to just buy whatever. If it’s not on the list, force yourself to come back the next day if it’s really that important to you.

    I think if you imagine how much better off your money can be spent elsewhere rather than the ones that make you feel bad after the fact (buyer’s remorse), it might make it easier to turn down those sales. Besides, you’ll save a whole lot more if you don’t buy it than if you buy it on sale 😉 Good luck!

    • I’ve moved back to the list shopping (the first one was today, eep!) and have given myself a weekly budget. We’ll see how it goes, I’ll probably post about it a little later.

  13. I think we can all relate! Here’s a good, easy but jazzy recipe: A can of large black beans, cumin, one small onion, one green pepper (I will not lie, in the past I may have just bought the frozen onions and pepper mixture and called it a day), salt, pepper and white rice.Totally ghetto and totally good. Fry up the onion/peppers in a bit of oil (any) and drain and wash the beans. Put your rice on. Then add the beans to the pan with the onions/peppers and put 1 heaping tablespoon of cumin, a dash or three of salt and pepper and let it cook a bit. Once the rice is done – spread it on a plate and top with the bean mixture. If you have the following you can add on: little bit of cheddar cheese sprinkled on top (the heat from the rice/beans will melt it), salsa, if you have a bag of corn chips – serve on the side. I like the heat – so I add in a bit of hot sauce in the end.
    Don’t be down – here’s my new favorite quote from the movie The Best Marigold Hotel: Everything will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, then it’s not the end.

  14. I’m not quite sure what you and your family eat (thankfully, or I’d be some sort of stalker……) and, admittedly all I did was Google “cheap and easy recipes”, but I found some websites that look promising. (The header is “15 Dinners under $1.50)
    Anyway, you probably already found a ton of recipes. Spending a lot of money on food, even if you have the money to spend, doesn’t make much sense. As long as it tastes good and is healthy, all the better if it’s cheap, right?

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