Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Trimming the Fat

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If you're unusually prudish delicate, you might want to stop reading this before you go any further because I'm going to use a bad word here. A dirty word. A really nasty word. The word is ... budget.

Alas, I not only have to get myself on one, but I have to resolve to stick to it. Oh, the ignominy of it! For some of you, that may not be a big deal. I have to confess, though, that I've always bought pretty much whatever I wanted, when I wanted. Even in this truly scary economy, I haven't been paying much attention to price or asking myself if I really need it. I've been doing the same old song and dance -- I wanted it, I bought it. And then I find myself sitting around scratching my head, wondering why I have nothing left at the end of the month. That's got to come to a screeching halt, as much as it's going to pain me to do it. I'm going to have to really start paying attention to the need it versus want it argument -- and winning it. I know I need to pay the rent -- and the electric bill and the phone bill and the insurance, et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum. Those darling shoes calling out to me with their siren song from the store window are a definite want item. They're not necessary. I have only two feet, and can wear only one pair of shoes at a time. I don't really need any more. I don't need any more dresses or jackets or pants, either. Books are a little problematic. Oftentimes, they're want items; there are definite times, however, when they're necessities. Same with CDs and DVDs, which are never -- let's face it -- necessities.

I don't need a $15 lipstick when a $5 tube does the job just as well. I don't have to have bakery cookies; there's not a thing in the world wrong with Chips Ahoy or Oreos, especially the ones with double stuffing. The dog's name-brand treats are, unfortunately a necessity since she won't eat the cheap knock-offs. And I have to pay her vet bills; there's no getting around that. I don't need expensive face creams for myself, though, when the more inexpensive store brands work just as well, and I don't have to pay double for name-brand medicines when my body can't tell the difference when I use generics. I know from empiracal experience that there's not much difference between name-brand grocery items and store brands, and I can certainly cut some more corners there.

I do find myself being more careful with gasoline consumption. If I need to run one errand, I won't do it until I can run several on the same trip. I'm more mindful of the electric bill, too. I keep my apartment cold.

I can't, of course, trim housing costs from my budget. I can do my best to keep the electric and phone bills down. Insurance has to be paid; there's no leeway there. Credit card bills have to be paid, too. If you don't pay, they'll do nasty, unspeakable things to you. They get paid, for sure, but I'm proud of myself for not having used them lately. This was the first Christmas in I don't even remember how long that I didn't charge anything. So, all of the above-mentioned expenses are musts. By process of elimination, the only area I have left for trimming is the wants, and I'm working on that. It's going to be tough, I know; perhaps even painful, and God knows I don't like pain. I can do this, though. My checkbook will thank me, and so will my blood pressure when it sees the checkbook at the end of the month. I just hope I don't get locked up for arguing with myself in the aisles, throwing a bratty tantrum, and spanking my rump.

"You don't need that."
"Yes, I do!"
"You don't. Put it back."
"No! I won't!"
"Do you want to be sitting in the dark starving on the 30th?"
"Oh, as if."
"Mmm-hmm. Put down the shoes. Now."
"I want them!"
"Now, babycakes."
"Now, as in right now. Put. Them. Down. And stop that drooling before somebody mistakes you for a mad dog and shoots you."
"You're so mean!"

Good grief.

There's never a shortage of blasfomys, so let's have at them.

he past away
celebrating the borth of Christ
a form of precatious


puerileuwaite said...

I NEED to be a "kept" pug. So I WANT you to take care of that.

VE said...

If it's any help...I've stopped eating $20 bills....

Serena said...

But Pugsley, who's going to take care of ME?:)

LOL, VE. I've even had to stop eating the $1 bills.:)

Skunkfeathers said...


I've lived on shoestrings so long, I'm right good at it. I balance my checkbook on my fanger...oops, falled off agin...dagnabbit, hate when that happens...if I weren't broke, I'd think I orta be ;)

But eh...as a friend of mine sez, "it's only money".


Serena said...

When I was a young chickie, I knew how to get the max out of a shoestring budget, Skunky. Somehow, it doesn't seem as fun now.:)

G-Man said...

Nice conversation there Sybil...:-)

quid said...

I try not to linger on blogs with swear words... and you said one of the biggies... BUDGET. I am broke, too. I shouldn't be, but I am. And I think there's a whole lot of us more conscious today about a budget (gulp) than there were before the first shoe dropped this fall on the economy.

Tighten that belt, girlfriend. I'll join you.


Mona said...

Who is Sybil?

Serena, this too shall pass..

Mona said...

he past away : Reference to Serena's difficult experience

Indains : a twisted India ( me)

celebrating the borth of Christ : celebrating the uncooking of Christ

emplyment : The art of using plywood for furniture

a form of precatious : the process of becoming catty

invirtro : Virtual fertilization

inyecting : doing a yeoman's service of giving vaccinations

famillie : that whole family is a lie

Serena said...

LOL, Galen. If that conversation ever takes place, I'm in big trouble.:-)

Yeah, I'm tightening the belt, Quid -- because I can't afford to buy a NEW belt.:)

LOL @ Mona's blasfomys.:-)

dons_mind said...

i'm a dave ramsey fan personally. we're pretty budget oriented at the moment.

Serena said...

I am now officially budget-oriented, too, Don. I went to the grocery store today and spent frugally -- 1/2 what I'd normally spend! I'm so proud of myself.:)