Saturday, February 9, 2013

Diagnosis: affluenza, with a side of sequestration and Robitussin

Sorry for the disappearance -- I'm coming off the worst case of bronchitis I've had in years. Blogging has somehow gotten lost in the 11 hours of sleep I've been needing each day for the last two weeks!

I may have been skipping blogging but I've also been skipping spending! My non-necessary expenses since I got sick have gone through the floor, even though I've still been going to work during the last week. I wish I could keep this no-spending kick I'm on going for the rest of my life. But I'd prefer a solution to permanently decrease my purchasing that doesn't involve spending the rest of my years coughing all the time and spending most of my free time napping.

Last week:
  • Two physical therapy sessions: $70
  • Guitar lesson: $45
  • Parking for physical therapy: $5
  • Eating out: $5
  • Eyebrow waxing: $28
  • Eyeliner: $11.50
New objects: 1 (eyeliner, and that's consumable)
Total:  $164.50

And now this week:
  • Guitar lesson: $45
  • Physical therapy: $35
  • Eating out: $46.44
  • No spend/no peek bonuses (guitar fund): $20
New objects: none
Total: $146.44

There would've been less eating out this past week, except that I was at a conference one day but largely feeling too horrible to pack my lunch and breakfast. The Chief Engineer has also had the same bronchitis at the same time so neither one of us has been up for any grocery shopping or much food prep.


I've paid back the Chief Engineer for my ski boots and I'm now in the black!

But even better is that I've made a discovery that helped me cut down my extraneous spending. My planner has this little four-column chart in the back of it. Instead of trying to come up with dozens of categories of spending, I really only have four:

1. guitar lessons
2. medical expenses and eating disorder treatment
3. eating out
4. everything else.

In the last 6 months I consistently spent approximately $150-$180 a month on guitar lessons and about $50 a month eating out. I'm content with both of those and for the moment I can afford them. My medical expenses have been all over the map but I don't have much control over those.

On the other hand, I've been consistently spending anywhere between $600 and $1200 on the "everything else" category. To sum it up, three out of the four categories of expenses are either predictable and under control or are vitally necessary and can't be reduced. So all I need to focus on is that fourth category.

I now use the chart in my planner and keep my eyes on the last column. My goal is to have as many days as possible this month where that column is blank. I'm even adding some incentive for myself. For every day that I don't buy something in the "other" category, I can put $5 into my guitar fund. And it's working! Hallelujah!

Just in time, too. If you live in the states and have been watching the news you've probably heard about something called sequestration. This means that the federal government has to cut its spending across the board by 10% if Congress can't get a budget by March 1st. Practically everyone here in the DC area is affected by anything financial that goes wrong with the government whether they work for the government or not. Where I work, we are expecting to be furloughed. For twenty-two days in the next six months. That amounts to a 20% pay cut for the next six months. And it may not happen, and it probably isn't going to happen, but something will happen, so I guess I better be prepared. I finally feel like I'm getting my act together with my spending and just in time. But 22 days at home should be good for decluttering, which hasn't happened lately!


  1. I've never heard of sequestration, or rather never heard being furloughed called that. That is rough stuff. It had been discussed here at work as we tend to do as the city workers do and they got popped with a few days years ago. It didn't happen though, luckily.

    I smiled at your looking at the good side of getting sick, which is no spending. See, there is a plus side of everything. Now if only your lungs heal up nicely all will be well (or weller?) with the world.


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