This has been one vacation-happy summer filled with great fun family time (and it's not even over yet!) BUT our savings account is reaping, or perhaps weeping, the consequences. We have been trying to be frugal, crafty, and plain cheap (areas that I must admit I do not normally excel in) and it feels good to say no to things that we a) don't need, b) only want because they are convenient, and c) can make or do ourselves for free or a lot less expensive. It's satisfying to forget about my cravings to eat out, for example, in order to save money for our growing family.
-I am no longer allowed to go roam Target because I inevitably use the "but it's such a great deal!" excuse and leave with a much lighter wallet. If I do go, I must take a pre-approved list and stick religiously to it so that my husband doesn't cringe when I come home with two extra bags of "great deals."
-We invite people over to have dinner with us instead of going out - every time we have our friends over we always remark that "that was so fun why don't we do that more often!?" Free, fun, happy, bonding, good food...you can't go wrong.
-Coupons! Or at the very least I peruse the grocery store leaflets to find the best deals and plan our meals accordingly.
-We buy gas at Russ's or Hy-Vee since we get cents off every time we buy groceries at those stores...yesterday I filled up for under $3 a gallon thanks to my fuel rewards card!
-Austin donates plasma twice a week for cash (something he loves to do since it's two hours of free reading time)
-I accept all sorts of accompanying gigs. Thank you, Music Degree!
Sort of separately, I had an epiphany in my car the other day. I was driving past Memorial Stadium and thinking about how crazy fun it was to go to Husker football games, and that got me thinking of all our random hilarious roommate adventures and it was just one memory after another of things I used to do: spontaneous road trips, late-night Sonic runs, workout classes with the girls, going home for the weekend, practicing til 11 at night, and catching lunch downtown with classmates. I was starting to feel sort of sad that I don't do those things anymore, partly due to being married but mostly because my life is focused pretty entirely on Natalie Jane, and soon Stockton. I can't just get up and go anymore, I can't spend money like it's free, I can't have a big social life (at least like I did in college).
Then, the epiphany: I have given up these things so that my CHILDREN can experience them later. You know? The more I've thought about it since, the cooler it makes me feel. Selfish things that I am sacrificing now are allowing my children to have a better experience in the future. I love that. Parenting is very selfless, or at least it should be, and I feel privileged to be involved in bringing up and providing for the next generation. We are going without so that they don't have to. Neat, right?
Lastly in this current "going without" strain: Austin and I have decided to give up dessert, candy, and pop for a year. This is dramatic for us because we seriously eat ice cream every night (don't judge). I don't think we'll miss candy (including chocolate) that much, but it sort of fills me with dread that I have voluntarily given up one of my top five favorite things: carbonated beverages. Almost nothing makes me as happy as that crackling fizzy sound when you open a fresh, cold pop. I know it's awful for you so I won't try to defend it on that front, but that doesn't make it easier for me to give up. Our friend was telling us how she gave up the same things starting in January and the idea just sort of stuck with us, and we think it will be a good experiment. Can we do it? Will we miss those things as much as we expect? Will it wear off after a while? Will I ever not salivate when I pass a cooler of pop?
Austin came to the rescue by saying that we don't need to be completely hard core and we should be able to splurge once a month. Believe me, I will be counting down. But I'm excited to stick to our goal...going without never hurt anyone, right? (RIGHT!?) Other benefits: less money spent on dessert stuff (which for us will actually probably be a lot); less dependence on soda to make me feel good (I know, I'm pathetic); better nutrition and weight loss, hopefully! Starting in November it will be Project Jessie where I get to lose the combined weight of two pregnancies and start feeling fit and fabulous again, so giving up these sugary treats now can only help in the long run.
(This goal was made with the stipulation that I get to eat whatever I want the week after our son is born. I am sure that will relieve some undue hormonal whining that would otherwise make Austin go crazy: "But I wannnnnntttt it, honeyyyyyy!" Yeah. Gonna just nip that in the bud.)
Wish us luck!