Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Nickeled and Dimed

I decided to start a responsible financial project:  I'm tracking my spending for a month.  I made a spreadsheet detailing every dollar and cent that leaves my bank account.
I've been meaning to do this for a few years, but I know how it will turn out.  I spend too much money on food - dining out, compulsive groceries, and Starbucks trips - all of which  goes down the toilet.  I guess it will be good to see the percent of money I spend on food, to see where that money could be going instead.
I just dropped a piece of fresh pineapple under my desk.  Since I have no greater love than fresh pineapple, I have to make a difficult decision as to whether or not to eat it once I crawl under my desk to pick it up....
I ate it...but not after looking around for witnesses.
Back to money, I'm trying to get back into bringing my lunch to work, and I've been working on eating the contents of my fridge and cabinets before buying more food.  Here's an example of the most common problem I have with that: 
Last night, I was thinking of dinner when I was at the gym, and I thought, "I want to make something quick.  I have some leftover whole wheat hot dog buns; I'll make tuna salad with light mayo and chopped pickles, and I'll put it on two buns.  I should have a salad, too.  Oh, I have to get rid of some tomatoes.  Maybe I'll just eat them with salt and pepper.  But I haven't really had all that much fat or dairy today...what if I stopped to pick up some soft mozzarella to chop up with the tomatoes?  Then I could put some vinegar on there, and some capers.  And artichokes!  That'll be a nice little fresh salad to balance my sandwiches."
Seriously?  I think like this all the time.  I have a running monologue in my head that discusses everything from money to food.  I'm always thinking of my next meal, if only to make better decisions about what I'm eating now.
Back to last night - there was a problem with this meal, because I didn't have the mozzarella.  That meant I had to run to the store on the way home, which means I'll buy more food.  And guess what?  That's what I did.  I couldn't find mozzarella at my corner store, so I dilly-dallied and ended up buying havarti, eggs (because I thought I was out), and a single-serving bottle of OJ (because I had a craving yesterday morning).  Problem was, I got home to find a full carton of eggs already in the fridge, and I realized I had an 8 oz chunk of cheese that will probably spoil before I get around to eating it all.  That sounds weird, but I'm not a cheese junkie.  Cheese finds sanctuary in my fridge.  Sanctuary...and slow death by molding.
I'm so afraid I'm going to be like my mom, a compulsive shopper.  She has clothes in her closet that still have tags, and a few months ago she had to purchase a freezer chest so that she could store the overflow of food from the refrigerator.  The tiny woman is a suspected bulimic, and she loads the fridge up all the time with eggs, shredded cheese and meat.  Every time I come home, I take alone time as an opportunity to dispose of rotting fruits, vegetables and uncovered leftovers; if it doesn't happen then, it will never happen.  I can always count on finding a cantaloupe like a shrunken head in the back corner of a low shelf.
Moreover, I'm afraid that I can't go a day without spending money.  I'll go full days without spending, only to decide at night that I need to make a frivolous purchase - be it a sandwich, a pack of Toffifay, or a box of nails.  I feel like I need something that bad.  Usually I plan my winter Sundays so that I don't have to leave the house; however, I will always find an excuse to get dressed and run to the corner store for something.
I think I'm really screwed up, but I guess it's good to realize it's a problem.  By the way?
I don't know.  Has anybody else had this problem?
So there's that,


mkieper said...

I have some remnants of that problem. I'm sure Mom will read this, so I don't want to be too critical...but she knows how she is. Mom is a compulsive shopper for sure, and I the gene was passed on to me. I believe this started with POP. Mom always said he would buy an elephant if it was on sale. Do you remember day old doughnuts and brown bananas with yellow specks? Mom's fridge is a cave of moldly decomposing food. Mine is not as bad, and I clean mine out monthly, due to cakes needing the room. I do however feel the cycle has come around. When Gram came to our house in Grandview, one of the first things she wanted to do was to clean out mom's fridge. I can still see her doing it. Now I feel the need to do it to mom's, but honestly I'm scared to touch it. I have a fear of touching cold moldy stinky stuff. Worse than spiders I think. Anyway...back to the spending thing, I married a man with a cronic case of that helped me curb my spending habits. Before we married I had some major credit card debt. So no, you are not alone and you are not a come from a long line of Hunters and Collectors.

ShanaRose said...

I too was not taught to save, I was taught "retail therapy". My biggest problem is eating out. I will deliberately avoid grocery shopping just so I have a better excuse to eat out. I also purchase things I don't even want that bad just because money is burning a hole in my pocket. I'm getting better, tracking ever dime that leaves my clammy hands is helping.
Something else I'm getting (slowly) better at is forgiving myself my faults.