Saturday, September 26, 2009

Please talk me out of my new bad habit.

My grand plans of living on the contents of my wallet until next Friday have already fallen by the wayside. Some of the spending was justifiable. I'm pretty sure getting a new flapper valve to fix our leaky toilet was ok even though we could have technically just kept turning the water to the tank off in between uses for a few more days. I'm also comfortable with purchasing a new bottle of bathroom cleaner so I can clean this weekend. It needs it, plus scrubbing bathrooms can be oddly therapeutic.

You'd think that budgeting this year would be easier because I moved to a new place where rent is $87.50 lower, but it isn't. My new roommate is terrific, and having a friend and fellow science teacher to come home to at the end of the day is doing wonders for my sanity, but living here isn't cheap. Some of the savings is being eaten up by the cost of cable television that my roommate already had, but spending large amounts of time with someone who seems to like going out and doing things with me is proving even more costly. Plus, now going out and spending money whether roommate is involved or not seems to be becoming a habit.

Wednesday, Roommate and I had quiz bowl coaches training in a town half an hour away, and afterward she suggested we take advantage of the rare opportunity to have Taco Bell for lunch. Taco Bell bean burritos have been a weakness of mine for several years so I agreed, and we had an enjoyable meal together before heading to the hardware store for our toilet part.

Next I decided to ignore the budget and go to the traditional gathering Thursday night gathering of TFA teachers at a little Mexican joint in our town. The food's mediocre, but the company is good. I'd be just as happy if we could start a bring your own peanut butter sandwich gathering in someone's living room, but I suspect it might be a hard sell.

Today I carpooled to the professional development session over two hours away. The junior high teacher drove to this one, and I'll do the next one. This cut gas costs and added sociability, but after spending the whole morning with her, I opted to continue hanging out over lunch. The sandwich I bought was tasty, but I wish I'd had the guts to just eat the Clif bar I'd packed, especially since we ended up eating on a bench on campus anyway.

My new social spending trend is likely to grow even worse this weekend. Most TFA folks are recent college grads who're trying to some extent to replicate a few aspects of their lives before they were teachers. Getting out of the house is a high priority for a lot of people. In the north delta, there's a fairly robust potluck culture that helps with that, but there isn't a potluck this weekend. My roommate and a couple of other friends are talking about heading to Tunica to go to the Paula Deen buffet at a casino today, and I said I might go even though I'm already over budget and my eating habits have been atrocious lately. Could someone please give me the speech about how succumbing to peer pressure is bad?


Frugal Scholar said...

I'd opt out now and then, but if you keep doing that, you won't get invited. At your stage of life, you're supposed to have fun with other people. As I tell my children, you don't have to be as pathologically frugal as I am, though it's good that you know how to be.

I've always been a crazed saver, but really, CARPE DIEM.

plonkee said...

I don't know. Re-evaluate your budget and be more realistic? There is nothing more annoying than continually failing to to meet your target. Change the target to one that you can meet, whilst going to most of these social events.

Do you think that the social stuff will ease off as the rest of the year pans out, or will it get worse?

E.C. said...

I do think I need to work more on balance. Last year I was too broken at the start of the year to do much socializing, and I let managing my finances take priority in part because it felt like the one thing in my life I actually had full control over. I'm going to work on saying no a little more often, but I'm also considering reevaluating my budget.

It probably isn't time to raise my allowance just yet, but this might be a sign I need to move back to a formal budget. More carefully prioritizing my wants could help a lot. If I cut grocery costs a bit and focus on packing frugal lunches instead of buying at school, I can probably work the Thursday night gathering and a few of the other events into my plans without exceeding my limits.