Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Revise That Budget!

Summertime, and the living is…darned scary! With no real steady pay flowing from the community college into the money bin, I get nervous, even when I know very well that the vast emergency fund sitting in the credit union will cover a full year’s worth of expenses. To start with, I don’t want to use the emergency fund for day-to-day expenses, and to end with, I’d really like to stay within the $5,739 budget (Social Security + Fidelity drawdown + leftover money from the low-cost winter months) I figure will cover me during the long, hungry summer. To do that, I see I’m going to have to revise my budget…mightily downward.

There’s not a thing I can do about the $1,240/month nondiscretionary budget: the utility bills aren’t going away, and they can’t go unpaid. And while during the winter costs came in way under that budget because utilities were low, this summer they probably will bust the budget. The highest bills will hit in August, when payment for July water and electric use comes due; I expect those costs to exceed the $125 and $225 I’ve budgeted for them, respectively. Last August I had a $257 power bill, and the utility company is socking us with an 8%+ increase this year.

The only part of the budget with any give at all is for nondiscretionary spending: food, household expenses, clothing, vet bills, dental bills, gasoline, yard and house repairs, and everything else.

After I was laid off, I cut that budget from $1,500 to $800 a month. So far, so good: since Canning Day, I’ve managed to stay on track every month but May, when I had to pay for the glasses and the clothing extravaganza.

Now the plan is to cut discretionary spending from $800 to $500.

Fifty-seven hundred and thirty-nine dollars—the amount I have to see me through the summer—amounts to $1,830 a month when prorated over the whole summer. But $1,240 nondiscretionary costs plus $800 discretionary spending come to a total $2,040 in monthly spending: a $210/month shortfall.

So, I figure if I can cut $300 a month from the discretionary budget, there should be enough to get by until teaching income returns. Even if I don’t reach that goal—which I probably won’t, because it’s pretty extreme and because every time you’re short of money every damn thing in sight breaks and the dog gets sick—if I can come close, I’ll make it through the summer without eating very far into the emergency fund.

Wow! A $300-a-month budget cut! How do I plan to accomplish this?

Cut back on food. The beans are already soaking in the slow cooker’s crock pot. I have some beef in the freezer, a fair amount of frozen fish and shellfish, a lifetime supply of pasta, a giant container of rice, and a stack of canned salmon in the pantry. I will need to buy some fresh produce and dairy, but otherwise I mostly can get by for a month or two by eating what’s on the shelves and in the freezer.

Conserve gasoline. I’m trying not to use the car except on the once-weekly day I have to schlep to the campus to for a course preparation meeting. On that day, I’ll do grocery shopping and any other errands that are along the homeward trail.

Buy nothing other than food unless it absolutely can’t be avoided. No clothes, no booze, no gardening stuff, no meals out, no electronic doodads, no movies, no nothin’.

Find free ways to entertain myself. This includes hikes, long doggy walks, swimming, TV (broadcast, o’course) and freebie video downloads, and socializing with friends.

{sigh} It’ll be a challenge. That’s about the best I can say for it.


Author: funny

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  1. Oh, I love pantry cooking. Tell me what you have and I’ll make suggestions! We love beans. Julia C has a yummy soup–white beans, onion, broth, celery. All pureed and then topped with a lemon and butter blend. Haven’t made that in years. Can be served hot or chilled.

  2. Guess we’re in the same boat….laid off, I mean.

    I like beans, too. For health reason as well as economy, I use only dried beans, and was surprised when reading the directions I learned I could “cook” them simply by letting them sit in water overnight, so no energy use required (other than my own).

    A favorite summer salad is chickpeas with chopped fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped and skinned cucumber, a little feta or goat cheese and some balsamic vinegarette.

    I’ve been looking at my own budget lately for things I can cut after 9 months of unemployment, but it’s pretty lean as it is. My prepaid cell phone and AAA membership are definitely next.

  3. Hey. Just stopping by after going through some old comments. great post here btw. 😀

  4. I like the socializing with friends part. 🙂