Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Learning to be Good Stewards of the Gifts We've Been Given (Or, How to Spend Wisely at a Club Store)

This is a hard one for me. My whole life, I'm realizing, I've been extremely ungrateful for the blessings in my life, whether it was gifts, or money, or food, or simply time spent with loved ones.

HubbyButt and I are almost flat broke. There have been other times in my life when I had little or nothing to live off of, and I made it through; I realize now that I only made it through because God put certain people and situations in my life when I needed them the most. For example, when I moved to Sacramento, I had $20 to my name. I lived with a few friends of mine and was hired within a week of moving there at a sandwich shop, where I got a free meal every day I worked. Some days, that was all the food I got. I would cut my sandwich into thirds. One third to eat on my break, one third for dinner, and one third for breakfast the next morning. But, it was food, and I was eating. I lost a lot of weight, which I needed to do, and I made it through.

This time is different because now I'm married and have a little girl to take care of. This time, I have to think about health insurance, car insurance, how we're going to put gas in the car. Thankfully, we haven't yet had to steal from Peter to pay Paul, but we've come close. Somehow, we have been able to squirm our budget around to pay the people that need to be paid, and to take care of ourselves.

Like yesterday. Man, am I proud of the decisions we made yesterday. We were recently blessed with a vehicle from some friends (again, right when we needed it. There was no way I'd be able to go back to work with just one vehicle; someone has to take Monkey to daycare and pick her up at the end of the day), but it wouldn't pass smog. We had it tested 8 times, and every time it failed in nox levels. Like, majorly failed. The levels it was testing at were double the limit to pass. Finally, HubbyButt's dad took it to a test and repair shop, and they were able to get it to pass. Yay!

Anywho, we can register my vehicle now. It's going to be $15 (it's a 1993 Explorer) to register, which we can afford. However, we live in California, meaning that we have to have insurance in order to legally drive it (I wouldn't drive it without insurance, anyway). It's going to be a little over $100 to insure. Okay. This is where the budget squirming comes in.

We were also blessed, as a Christmas gift, with a membership to Sam's Club. Yay!! HubbyButt wanted to register the Explorer yesterday, but I convinced him that having food in the house is a bit more important than having a second vehicle just yet, since I'm not back to work for a few more weeks. Now, if you've ever been in Sam's or Costco, you know just how easy it is to waaaay overspend, right?

Between us, we still had $100 left over from Christmas money. Before we got out of the car at Sam's, we set a limit of $75 for ourselves. I plugged that into the calculator on my phone, and off we went. Every time we set something in the basket, I rounded up to the next dollar and subtracted it from our limit. This caused us to be very intent on the things that we needed and to keep away from the impulse buys. We ended up spending $68 on enough food to last the two of us until HubbyButt gets paid again next Friday, and hopefully a little longer, if I use our purchases correctly.

We got 5 pounds of ground chuck (which I browned and froze last night), 2 fresh chickens (one of which we'll be having for dinner tonight, and will be able to get at least 2 more meals out of), a case of canned peas, a case of canned corn, some fresh mushrooms, cheese, two loaves of bread (now in the freezer), milk, a box of cereal, and a tub of sourdough pretzels.

Later today, I'll start working on a menu plan to best utilize what we bought yesterday. I know I'll be freezing a lot of what we got, and a lot of what we make, so that it's available to us when we're ready for it.

I'd greatly appreciate any tips or recipes, so leave them in the comments!

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