Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The point of all of this is to give me a reason to play the song at the end. (Quote of the Day)

"$20 Cheese."
-- Actual budget item in my and Sweetie's budget notebook.

A while back, Sweetie and I decided to live on a budget; much like we once decided that it was foolish to run to the store every night and get whatever groceries we needed to make a meal that night, and instead began planning our meals,*
*For example, we would sometimes look in our cupboard and see that we had, say, hamburger buns, and decide that dinner would be chicken patty sandwiches, pasta, and a salad, despite having as our only ingredient for that dinner the buns to place the chicken on. Undaunted, we would then go to the grocery store that was nearby, and get the remainder of the ingredients for dinner that night, plus usually some extra stuff that we happened to walk by on the way in or out, plus a magazine or two. That kind of thing will tend to cause your grocery budget to swell, especially if when you get back home you decide it's too late to make all that stuff and instead order pizza.

we decided back in August to sit down and really make up a budget and try to get a handle on what we were spending and how we were spending it.

So now, every week, we sit down on Sunday morning and try to anticipate the week ahead, seeing how much we might need for such necessities as gas, groceries, and the like. We then decide on a budget and discuss how much we're going to spend for such things as "Mr Bunches and Mr F's Halloween costumes" and get set for the week.

That's part one of the budget. Part two of the budget involves going over the week before and seeing whether we stuck to the budget or not, and writing down what we went over, so that periodically we can look back and see what we need to adjust.

(It is that periodic look-back/adjustment, for example, that greatly reduced trips to the Dollar Store, because, whether or not everything's just a dollar, going there 4 times a week can add up.)**

**Part three of the budget involves me being very crabby about the budget. I don't mean to be crabby but I'm naturally kind of a crabby person, plus I hate the budget for denying me trips to the Dollar Store, plus I get crabby because we end up having conflicts over the budget, conflicts that arise because my budget process does not in any way match Sweetie's budget process. Sweetie's budget process is based on a system of looking at how much money we have and comparing it to how much we want/need to spend. My budget process involves a complicated sort of calculus that requires several different pages of notes, circles for "discretionary budget" items, plusses, minuses, text messages when Sweetie goes to the Bank, and, if I truly had my way, a secret handshake. I hate budgeting, but I love budget processes.***

***And secret handshakes.

The last time we went back and looked through to determine how we were doing in living on a budget (answer: not very well, thank you) one of those extra items during the week was the quote today:

$20: Cheese,

it read, there on the little notebook page amongst the other items, like "gas, $10" and "cold medicine, $5".

No explanation.

"What did we spend $20 on cheese for that week?" I asked Sweetie, who gave me a look that I intepreted as "Obviously, the person asking the question is the person who spent $20 on cheese that week," which, if that was the look, then the look was a lie, because I certainly would have remembered any week in which our cheese budget was twenty bucks. That's the kind of week you brag about for years: "Hey, I remember one time, I spent twenty bucks on cheese!" you tell people who find themselves slowly edging away from you at seminars, thereby letting you get on with the important business of surfing the Internet while eating lunch by yourself, and so your twenty-dollar-cheese week had a side benefit of getting people to stop trying to make you be a part of society.

That's what I would use a $20 cheese week for, anyway. What Sweetie, who is obviously the person who invested twenty of our hard-earned dollars into cheese, did that week is a mystery, as she claims not to remember it at all.

But I secretly suspect she does remember it. I am of the opinion that she had some kind of massive cheese party, her and Mr F and Mr Bunches and their teachers and probably the guy across the street that we call "The Professor" even though he supposedly wasn't a professor, according to the kids, who say that he works with computers and isn't a professor at all.*4

*4: The kids, as I've pointed out before, think everyone works on computers. There are three truths that the older kids -- Oldest Daughter, Middle Daughter, and The Boy -- hold to be self-evident, and they are:

1. Every single teacher they ever had from kindergarten on up to present day "hates kids."

If you say "That seems remarkable, that they went into teaching even though they hate kids," the kids will agree with you that it is remarkable but "probably they went into teaching because they hated kids and wanted to make their lives miserable," and if you point out that it's even more remarkable that all of their teachers in a row hated kids, they'll just say "You're rude."

2. Every single person they know "does something with computers."

They say this over and over. Ask what a friend's dad does, and they'll say "something with computers." What does the neighbor do for a living? "Something with computers." I finally asked one of them why they said that: "Why do you say he does something with computers?" I asked, and I got a shrug.
My own theory: They saw the dad/neighbor/whoever working on a computer, and made the obvious/wrong conclusion.

So one day I pointed out that everyone in my office, including the guy whose job it is to deliver the mail and get files, has a computer.
They just stared blankly, probably because when I say the words "At my job..." their brains protectively shut down.

And the third self-evident truth, to the kids, is:

3. It's not fair.

In their defense, it's not. We set it up that way. Don't tell them.

were all over for some kind of cheese party where they had cheese pinatas and cheese dances and probably a cheese limbo and, for all I know, there was a cheese DJ playing Cheese Disco Duck.*5

*5: I do not actually think Sweetie did all those things at all. Except the Cheese Limbo. I'm on to her.

UPDATE: Sweetie emailed me this about twenty minutes after I posted that:

"I do not have a cheese limbo."

But that's exactly what someone who has a cheese limbo would say, so: Me 1, Sweetie: 0.


Grumpy Bulldog said...

I do all of my grocery shopping on one day, usually Friday night after work. Because I find going to the grocery store (especially Wal-Mart) like descending into the pits of Hell, so I try to do it as rarely as possible. But since it's just me it's easy to plan things out in advance. I have to admit I don't think I've ever spent $20 on cheese. Of course "cheese" could just be a code word for something else, like feminine hygiene products or something else someone is too embarrassed to admit spending $20 on. Conspiracy theory!

Michael Offutt said...

An explanation of $20 in cheese would sound cheesy in my opinion...but that's just me.

Andrew Leon said...

Um... we often spend $20 on cheese. For instance, my wife wanted brie this past Friday night, so I went to get brie for our special Friday night dinner. I bought 2 wedges, because I wasn't sure if 1 would be enough (it was, so we get to have brie twice). That was somewhere around $15 for the brie. I also bought a cheese ball, because it's that time of year, and they were on sale. That was another $5. There you go. $20 on cheese in one trip.

anna. said...

i was secretly hoping the song at the end would be by justin bieber.

also i wish i could budget money. at all.