Friday, February 25, 2011

Austerity update

Earlier this month I whined and complained about financial straights that I have gotten myself into. I was undoubtedly more honest about it here than I have been with the people I come to face-to-face with in my real life. That, combined with the supportive responses from Kwiz, Snarkela, Vivian and Silver Neurotic helped me get a grip on my self made mess and start improving my situation.

So I have begun bringing my lunch to work and questioning every expense. Instead of just donating a couple of new books I have sold them on eBay, which won't buy me a house in the country but it does help me stay on budget. I have even (gasp!) cooked at home! And tomorrow, instead of renting the Oscar-nominated Winter's Bone so I can see it before the awards Sunday, I will attend the free showing at the local public library. If I find extra in my wallet, I do not look at it as "found money" to have fun with but instead do something useful with it -- like adding it to my CTA pass.

The result is that I have stayed on budget for each week and been able to add a little to my household "slush" fund (the money I turn to if a smaller unexpected expense turns up -- like a super-sized bill for snow removal at my mom's or a gift for a baby shower at the office). While using the money responsibly doesn't necessarily give me the quick high of a new purse, it does pay off in serenity over the long term.

Thank you, ladies, for the perspective and the inspiration!


This week I'm going over my Monday-Friday calorie allotment. Looking over my food intake, I realize the problem isn't the Girl Scout cookies (150 calories for 4) nor the Starbuck's hot chocolate (tall, skim, no whip -- 290 calories). It was giving in to laziness and going to Taco Bell and McDonald's rather than going with something more nutritious. 900 to 930 calories for a junk food lunch is just too much!

Oh well, I'm learning and adapting and will change my behavior. That's the important thing.

"Thanks, dear. Love you!"

Talked to my oldest friend in real-time, as opposed to swapping emails, on Thursday. The news about her health is mixed (OK, it's bad; she's not healing as expected and could be looking at another month off). But she sounded good, which she laughingly attributed to Percocet but I suspect is because her prodigal son is visiting to help out as she recovers.

She also very graciously expressed her gratitude for the help I've given her since her move -- including recommending a laundry service and a website that will arrange for Fat Burgers to be delivered directly to her door. (Yes, I know the finer things in life.) She expressed an interest in spending a week here in Chitown this summer and my return visit to see her in Los Angeles this December. And she ended the call, "Thanks, dear. Love you!"

So yes, her life is saturated with drama and yes, much of it has been unnecessary. And yes, she often allows herself to get caught up in it. But she is also tender and loyal. Even if these good qualities sometimes get overwhelmed by the stuff in her life, I must remind myself that they are always still in there somewhere ... to be appreciated and treasured.

That's what friendship is, after all, isn't it?