Sunday, March 6, 2016

Being Fiscally Responsible

As much as I love a detailed excel spreadsheet with numerous if value statements to help me track and analyze our budget and actual spending, I will be the first to admit, it is definitely a downer when it comes to my adult life.  In fact, it's often a cruel reminder that as a grown up, I an confined to practical needs (not material wants), sacrificing for the sake of my family, and saving and preparing for the future.  

As part of our DC adventure, we made the decision to dip quite a bit into our savings, most of which I had single handedly built from a brief stint in public accounting back in my early 20s.  I did this by carefully growing my savings despite salary increases and keeping my spending consistent with my first year as a staff auditor, oh- and staying single helped too!  Despite a few daring expenditures here and there, I was pretty conservative and saved saved saved.  My goal was to buy a house in 5 years and I wanted enough cash on hand to put a down payment for my future.  I guess you could say, I look back at that now and think - man, why didn't I have a few more irresponsible excessive throwing cash away type of escapades then?  Why did I have to be so fiscally responsible?!

Because the truth is, life now doesn't exactly allow for any fiscally irresponsible decisions.  

We've trying so hard to live frugally while in DC.  And I have learned quickly, and ignorantly so, that living in the City is quite expensive.  The food is more expensive and more inaccessible than anywhere I've ever lived (I've never lived in a City without a car). In exchange for walking further, we can pay a small premium by ordering groceries online or shopping at the nearby food mart, but my cheap fiscally responsible self cannot fathom why better planning cannot circumvent that dilemma.  It reminds me of the days when I visited my brother and opened up my big generous wallet to pay for whatever pre-cut fruit he wanted.  Oh how I wish someone would come and do that for me now! 

Sadly, we aren't eating that great while we're here.  Part of the conundrum is the tiny limited kitchen supplies and ingredients we have on hand, the other part is that eating out includes a 10% tourist tax and our boys are starting to develop quite an appetite.  Just this weekend, we easily spend $45 on lunch at Shake Shack for the five of us, and no crumb was left behind.  We drank every single drop of our milkshakes, ate every single thing on our plate, and truly got our money's worth.  Sort of.  $45 for a family of 5 still seems hefty!  

But, it is really easy to get by on very little if you're willing to sacrifice nutrition for convenience.  Ramen, quesadillas, cereal, waffles, and pasta have been staples in our time here, and even though we're trying some food delivery services with all ingredients and preparation instructions provided, it's not a long term solution but more of a one-time discounted attempt to eat a little better and not for a couple more weeks.  For someone who likes to munch of fresh vegetables with hummus, I am finding it a difficult sacrifice but one necessary for our family, because even with our budgeted food spending, we have still managed to spend $300 at Costco, $100 at WalMart and about $50 at other places thus far.  It is the second week we are here, our frozen amenities are about 50% depleted, we're all out of bread and rolls, and it's looking like cereal might be on the menu for dinner next week.   

Like I said, being fiscally responsible is not always pleasant.  However, I will also be making mango smoothies, we have lots of yogurt and Cuties left, and still half a bag of frozen broccoli to remedy our dip into the dark side of eating.  Here's to week two of DC!  

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