Nice crisp days we’re having…if it were OCTOBER. It’s been cold here in NY, the kind of windy cold weather that totally catches you off guard because you’ve put all the winter gear away and you were just getting used to summer temps. Spring is so fickle.
So far, May has been a very, very expensive month – Summer camp and Fall semester preschool tuition paid in full, business insurance, an expensive oven repair at the kitchen, and as of today, Adobe CS 5 and a new Macbook Pro because our 5 year old laptop completely died last night (ok, that unexpected purchase hurt just a little). I did eventually find some summer clothes, on Mother’s Day. I usually belabor over purchases, but I didn’t this time (I’m the one who spends an hour or more at the fabric or paper store going back and forth over a single item). I found a dress off the sales rack and a pair of jeans. I glanced at the price. It wasn’t horrifying or anything, but it wasn’t cheap either and if it would have been 2 weeks ago I would have put the dress back on the price alone. I tried it on and then headed straight for the register. Dress and jeans in bag. Done. I came home and bought some sandals and a new bathing suit that I really needed (you would berate me if you knew what kind of awful mishmash combo of swimwear I’ve thrown together for the last 4 or so years).
I have to say, it was liberating shopping like that. Not thinking twice about the money, not justifying it or feeling guilty. I’m always so careful about budgets and we’ve been so broke in the past, that it was just liberating to make a purchase without really caring this time. It’s not like we are suddenly rolling in dough, but because of the way both our businesses have been steady lately, paychecks are coming in with more regularity than before. Apart from these splurges, however, I think the greatest difference in having some kind of steady income is being able to do the small things that we never felt we could do before, like takeout when we’re too tired to cook, an ice cream cone or a special treat on one of our outings, lunch or dinners with a friend, an iced coffee. Seems simple, no? But I don’t take these small pleasures for granted. We didn’t indulge in any of these things even 2 years ago when I took out $100 from the bank machine for mad money for the month. When it was gone, it was gone. I would dodge invites for dinner or drinks with friends because I didn’t feel we could spend that money on something so non-essential. When we didn’t have any money to save, we collected loose change and kept a dollar jar where we’d put a dollar a day so that at the end of the month we could deposit $50 into our savings. Wasn’t much, but it was something.
Some of our extreme money saving tactics have stuck around and I don’t feel they are going anywhere, like haircuts at home for Mark and the girls, buying only what’s on the grocery list, eating out only a few times a month. We rarely take big vacations. Our budget still only allows for one bottle of wine a month. We always make coffee at home. We drink only water, we never buy juice or soda.
After this expensive month we’re going back on a budget, but it’s nice to be able to exhale from being so tight-fisted, to not have a silent debate with yourself over every single purchase, even if it’s just for the little things.