Saturday, November 26, 2005

Tonight, for the first time in years, I went to a grocery store and spent several hours planning upcoming meals and comparison shopping to get the best deals. I tracked everything I picked up and put it in my cart so that I had a reasonable expectation of what the final tally would be when I hit the register.

I've gotten so into the habit over the years of spending without thinking. Once upon a time I was good at being aware of my finances and of being . . . not necessarily miserly, but economical and thrifty. These days, my money slips away like wet sand scooped up from under an ocean tide slips through the cracks in my fingers. The more I make, the easier it is to spend it all without thinking. But when I make less, I still keep spending at the same rate.

Did I mention that I'm between jobs again?

On the bright side, I have plenty of time to tackle tasks I've been sitting on for years (going through my belongings, trimming down on possessions, mending, selling old text books).

On the other bright side, I have this opportunity, right here and now, to practice budgeting. And I have time to do things like cooking for myself, which make budgeting a little easier. I love to eat out. I love to eat exotic foods. Unfortunately, this is an expensive habit, which accounts for an overly large percentage of the money that I regularly spend.

The dim side of this other bright is that I do not have a lot of leeway, and it's not so much an opportunity as a necessity. All the sides form a triangular creature with a very shadowy bottom.

If I recreate good spending and eating and cooking habits now, maybe I can continue them as I find a new job and start making more money again. This will in turn lead to savings (once debts have been paid off). Savings! Something I had, once upon a time, but have not had for some time. Savings would be so nice.

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