I realize this won’t be everyone’s experience. In fact, my experience is that of a fairly privileged white girl.
When I was in college (5 years ago now, wow), life was a breeze – in reference to money. I did have a job, actually multiple, but they were on campus and any money I earned was just for me to play with. I ended up saving almost all of it, but I totally could have spent it all if I wanted. I went to college on a full-ride scholarship, I had a stipend for books, and my parents paid for me to have a cafeteria meal plan, so I didn’t have any bills whatsoever.
Yes, I had to learn to get myself up for class and clean in my spare time, but life was really a breeze. Now, I’m a full-time extreme homemaker. I cook now (completely from scratch), I clean the whole house and do all the laundry, and I’m in charge of handling the finances. (I can’t work outside the home, so I get to make my husband’s paycheck cover 2 (nearly 3) humans and 2 dogs – yay. It’s not that difficult. I’ll admit, most of my “problems” are not really problems, but I’ll also pat myself on the back for living on far less than most and doing well.
I wish, now, that I had understood how easy I had it in college and when I lived with my parents. With my parents, I spent most of my days sitting on my butt watching TV. I didn’t have to do my own laundry or cook my own food or clean. (My mom was a saint) Now that I have to do all of that, I wish I had savored every second of doing nothing before.
– Switching subjects now –
The past couple of weeks, I’ve been hitting the budget hard, and I’ve been trying to limit myself to $3 a day for food. Because of that, I’ve been calculating what every portion of food costs and thinking about it before I eat. That’s a lot of thinking about money, and it’s taking all the joy out of eating for me.
I’ve found some amazing recipes that I love, but I don’t really enjoy them at the moment because I’m thinking about how much they cost. And, honestly, that’s all a little theoretical. Yes, a particular meal with unit prices may cost 95 cents, but it doesn’t totally matter what a particular meal costs if I’m careful to stick to a budget when I buy groceries and then just cook with what I have.
Instead of focusing on the cost of each meal, I’m going to just stick to my budget at the store and eat conservatively when I’m at home. I feel like once every few months it’s a good practice to calculate the cost of common meals, but that’s a lot of thinking for the everyday, and it can easily lead to the feeling a scarcity. I want to feel a sense of abundance in life!
Just to give an idea of what I do spend at the store (and this is why I think calculating meal costs can be a good occasional practice because it helped lower this), my family (almost 3 humans and 2 dogs) can eat well with plenty and lots of fruits and veggies for $7.50 a day. It’s actually less than that, but that’s our average. That means that we spend about $225 per month on food. I’ve seen people eat for a lot less, but I’ve seen many people eat for much more. And this cost includes the dog food that my dogs eat. One has multiple food allergies, so their food is pretty posh – I make about half of it, and it’s completely human-grade. If only my husband and I are eating, that brings our costs down to about $200 per month. (Yes, I only spend about $50 a week on groceries and eat a lot of clean, bodybuilder-type food; no ramen here.)