Archive for the ‘Do I Need It’ Category

Monthly Challenge: Let’s (Not) Dine Out- Week One

I am pleased to report a smashing success in this challenge so far, although it has not been without its difficulties.

Jeff took the boys out to In-n-out last Saturday and texted me apologizing, promising to take his lunch to work twice the next week to make up for it. I was like, ha ha, I win, because I had factored in one weekend boys’ meal out when doing the budget (it was a planned out in the original challenge).

Of course, the next day I was not so smug because Jeff offered to take the boys for a haircut- which they Pavlovianly associate with a Yogurtland trip after. Fortunately for all of us there was a four hour long congregational meeting at church Sunday afternoon, making the tough call of saying no to Yogurtland unnecessary. (Never has anyone been so excited about four hours spent debating the merits of using the accrual vs. cash system of accounting! I still don’t know what either of those are but boy do people have opinions.)

The rest of the week turned out to be pretty smooth sailing. James ASKED to get a cake pop and the boys brought up the idea of supper in a restaurant quite a lot but I just smiled and said no. So far we are 6% in to our restaurant budget category with 3 weeks to go. Nice work!

(Next week is partly a big cheat- we are visiting family- but I am going to try to not get any airplane/airport snacks or treats, which I anticipate being even harder than saying no to the suggestion of Mulberry Street pizza for dinner.)


Monthly Challenge: Let’s (Not) Dine Out

Let’s Dine Out on KVCR

Let’s Dine Out is not only one of our favorite local tv shows but also an unofficial family motto, I think. We don’t eat out every day but we definitely eat out more than once a week (especially if you count trips to Yogurtland or Menchie’s as dining out, which I do since they fall in the YNAB “Restaurant” budget category.)

It’s not that I want to never eat out- but I do want to be more mindful about where our restaurant money is going. I had started bribing James with a Starbucks cake pop far too often, for instance. The boys had been doing brunch out with Jeff on Saturdays *and* family brunch on Sundays. The bottom line is that we regularly overspend in our restaurant budget category despite the best of intentions. I’d rather have one quality/adventure family meal and one date night dinner each month, and while that *should* fit into the budget, the Yogurtland/Starbucks/etc. really eats into our restaurant budget. (“Eats into” it, ha ha ha.)

So this month my goal is simple: to stay under our restaurant budget for the month. I have a few strategies in place:

  • pack Jeff’s work lunch once a week
  • no yogurt/cake pop/other food treats during the week (I am leaving room in the budget for Jeff to take the boys out on Saturday mornings but am going to encourage them to do the park plus donuts vs. a full meal out.)
  • family swim on the weekends instead of family brunch out.

At the end of the month *if* we’re under budget we’ll plan a fun restaurant outing.

The main thing working in my favor is that we’re spending almost a whole week this month in Texas with my family. The main thing working against me is Jeff- it is hard to get him on board with these little projects of mine. I probably should have started with the grocery category (our other chronically overspent category and the one I have pretty much sole control over), but we’ll see.

How often do you eat out? Do you pay attention to where your restaurant money goes?


Do I Need It: Sparkling Water

“Most people are familiar with S.Pellegrino’s iconic bottle, but not everybody knows its hidden secrets. The beauty of its shape, called “Vichy”, its four labels and its green glass, together with its unmistakable Red Star, are all important emblems connecting the brand to its heritage and values”-

Here’s something I once totally did: get into a Twitter argument with G. Gordon Liddy about bottled water. I am against it, for reasons both environmental  and moral. G. Gordon Liddy is very much for it and views any suggestion that you should even consider reducing your use of bottled water as an affront to personal freedom, America, etc. I do not think I made much of a case with him but I did leave the conversation quite convinced that G. Gordon Liddy is the craziest. (Which I already thought anyway- I read the dude’s autobiography.)

Anyway. I don’t drink bottled water in plastic, ever, but I do indulge in a glass of San Pellegrino with dinner. It’s Italian. It comes in a glass bottle. It’s only $14 for a case at Costco. A simple treat, right? Maybe not.

One thing I am doing is evaluating some of the things I think of as “needs”- starting with my grocery staples. And San Pellegrino seemed like a good first thing to evaluate, because obviously I don’t need it. But on the other hand, some treats are okay, and I wanted to know if this was a treat I could, in good conscience, continue to indulge in.

Budget-wise, it seems totally fine. $14 every 6 weeks or so is not a huge proportion of our grocery budget. And since it’s in glass, I thought the environmental impact might be live-able, too. Think again, Spector. A bottle of San Pellegrino travels about 6,000 miles to get to Los Angeles (I am not doing the math but figure San Francisco and LA are close enough). And that glass bottle is heavy- weighing more than the water inside- so it takes plenty of fuel to get here.

Not only that, but San Pellegrino is owned by Nestle, which is not a company I want to support in terms of its water business.  So  it’s in the budget, but not environmentally or morally sound. Scratching the Pellegrino was a no-brainer– especially after learning the water in that bottle is carbonated after it is bottled. There go my fantasies of drinking a fancy mineral water straight from some sparkling spring. (I don’t think those are the hidden secrets of San Pellegrino their website refers to.)

So, no luxury beverages for me? We’ll see. I still drink plenty of coffee and iced tea, and during lemon season get to drink plenty of fresh squeezed lemonade (distance traveled to my kitchen: a few dozen feet, maybe?) I think I’ll survive. A soda stream seems tempting but also unnecessary.

What’s your beverage of choice? Also, do you think G. Gordon Liddy has me on some sort of hit list?