Up on the hill we were preparing for a large purchase. This past weekend we had started to discuss wedding plans, yeah, wedding…anyways, since we are unable to decide what kind of wedding we want, justice of the peace, at home, or something more normal/traditional, it was hard to sit down and start to plan a wedding budget and make actual decisions. So on a “scouting mission” “for research”, the boy and I decided to go look at wedding bands to see what kind of sticker shock we could have. Now the nice thing is my father is a jeweler, we wont be paying retail for anything, but we figured we wanted the worst case scenario – now there will be no diamonds, there will be nothing designer, we both wanted plain domed wedding bands – platinum if possible but more likely they would be white gold. Simple right? Should be easy right? No. We spent a couple hours at the local mall going from store to store (this particular mall has five major jewelers in one place) and not a single store had a ring either of us could try on – apparently I have huge lady fingers and Jim has big hands even for a dude – and no one carries white gold or platinum in store so all we could do is look at photos and place our order out of a catalogue – the rough estimates we got were $800 for gold and over $2000 for platinum. The numbers were even higher than we were thinking but what made the whole thing worse was the way we were treated at each store. The second we told them we weren’t interested in some diamond studded band and they took a look at my engagement ring they didn’t even want to bother answering our questions.
Now, I love my ring. The way Jim proposed was perfect (in the gem room at the Carnegie Museum, surrounded by sparkly, pretty things, where we had our first date). I’m glad he didn’t spend a bunch of money on some clunky diamond ring that I probably would have destroyed with spackle and paint. I know it’s not traditional but I don’t understand why everyone has to be such jerks about things.
To put it as simply as possible…we’re broke. Well, one of us is and because we’re a team and all that means we both are. This whole experience put me in a solid funk. Despite all my efforts to save money I felt like it would never be enough. Now I don’t care what random jeweler folks think of me, but I would be lying if I said the way other people treat me don’t impact how I feel. Anyways, prior to this little epiphany, we were on a “budget” it was more a general suggestion, we tracked our joint expenses, the utilities, mortgage, renovation costs and groceries. We didn’t eat out often, or at expensive places (our average meal out cost $18 for the two of us), but it was more frequently than we should have both for financial and health reasons. We didn’t go on “dates” either – so it wasn’t lavish, romance filled nights out that did in our bank accounts. Looking at the last two months in fact we only went out twice – a baseball game whose tickets were only $12 for the two of us plus $5 for food once inside & a night of bowling with friends (we took a coupon so one of us bowled for free) and the evening cost $13 for one person and shoe rental. So it wasn’t that either. We didn’t sit down and add up all the little things that were easy to forget about, the cups of coffee, tolls to drive to work, gas, magazines, etc and that is what killed us. Those “little things” added up, fast. Super fast. And to more than we could have imagined.
And now here we are. I’ve been reading a lot of The Non-Consumer Advocate lately for more ideas of what we can do to cut costs around the house and try to stop the horrible spending cycle we were on. We were doing pretty well in general, we made it until November 4th without turning on the heat, and even now that it’s on the thermostat is only set to 53, we didn’t have any cable but we did have Netflix (I cancelled it two days ago), we shop mostly at the farmers market, eat a largely vegetarian diet (Jim buys himself cold cuts to pack his lunch – construction workers don’t eat salad you see), there are very few packaged convenience foods in the house, usually an emergency box of TJs mac & cheese and some soy nuggets. And there’s our limited going out for food and entertainment. We’ve planned to plant a rather large garden to cut down on our food bills next year and we’re doing the bulk of the home renovations ourself. Personally in the last two months I have spent $120 on non-essentials, two magazines, yarn for knitting for additional income and a new pair of glasses. I need to know what else we can possibly do. The accounts are lower than they should be and I know the money that was spent is gone and that’s that, it’s not coming back so there’s no way to undo that. I know that things will be getting better when we sit down and are more aware of where all the money is going but I need to know what else there is. I’m at a complete loss – any suggestions are welcome.
* Please check out Kathryn’s etsy page Kathyrn Riechert – her work is lovely and I have a bunch of favorites that as soon as there is money to go around that I hope to have