Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Garbage In, Garbage Out -- Mommy's Christmas Budget


I have to say that unemployment is everything it’s cracked up to be!  I recently completed with success my ninth full month of persistent job-less-ness, and truly, it is an accomplishment.

Inside each of the magical 274 days of this Space-Bridge to Free Time, I have discovered deep and personal insights.

Last week alone I discovered that my benefits had run out!

Nine months is a powerfully long journey of self-discovery and rebirth. Some folks actually GIVE birth within roughly the same time. (Two of my personal friends did this by welcoming actual babies!  Hugs again to Stella and brand new Elsa!! XO XO)

Me? I gave birth to a budget.

My cost-cutting plan is such genius that I should probably patent it for profit. But if I have learned one thing in my nine-month-sojourn of reflection, it is this: “You Only Get Out… What You Put In.”

With Christmas a mere three weeks away, my new budget includes no gifts.  I am following my now-deceased mother’s footsteps the year before she died by creating a Heritage Christmas and divesting myself of all the things I could have made a small profit on at Yard Sales.  But I was too busy updating resumes and going to mandated Unemployment Trainings and attending job seminars.

I am covering these treasures in recycled (used) Christmas / Birthday wrapping, then presenting them, along with sentimental tears, to our four kids … as Heirlooms.

Oh I can hear their reactions, now! 

“Mom, wow! A ceramic … --albatross?  Oh hey, it’s even got a missing wing!  Doesn’t this sorta remind you of the one Grammy had locked up inside her guest room? The one we all thought was haunted?”

Me: “You remembered!" (sniff-sniff) "MERRY Heritage Christmas!”

Also, I pretty much cancelled anything ‘extraneous’ on our car and home insurance.  As long as we continue on with our excellent histories (an average of two car accidents per year, one law suit against us per lifetime, and only four house claims for catastrophic natural disasters on our home in the last 18 months) I think we’ll be fine.

One of the things I cannot compromise on is Starbucks coffee.  Lord knows I tried.  For a while I had collected a little army of generic coffee samples to find a preferred-to-Starbucks flavor.  When that failed, I went to the “Mix It With Starbucks and Make It Last” campaign.

All of those ‘cheaper trial runs’ and Dilution Plans cost way too much.
“Ya gotta spend a LITTLE … to save a LOT.”   Total B.S.

It not only didn’t pan out.  It became a matter or ethics. Would a committed professional smoker compromise his excellent life-choices by purchasing generic cigarettes? 

Take cheap sex. 

Or do-it-yourself home projects where you end up hiring a professional after you’ve broken the budget on materials PLUS all the time you spent causing damage that your house insurance no longer covers.

The only way to save money would be to quit Starbucks entirely.

 (Ha ha ha…  see what I did? I am a trained humorist.)

Meanwhile, my children and their significant others may expect to find in their Christmas stockings generic lunch-bags sealed with green and red twister ties I shall call, Coffee Sachets. For re-gifting.  Or the cat box. (I use my own generic grounds to extend time between litter-changes.)

All are fiscal successes!

The only time I encountered insurmountable issues with my Budget was when I cancelled cable TV. 

I realize how drastic that sounds, but know that I replaced it with a more prudent plan via satellite-style TV.

The reception and the basic plan I selected are all just fine.

The problem was Abigail and her Anime Cos-Play Costume that led to an embarrassing DISH INSTALLER moment. 

Abby The College Slob has no idea how to hang up clothes.  After spring break seven months ago, she apparently left her Deadpool costume on the floor in the living room. Probably with the comment, "I'm leaving my Deadpool costume here," except at the time I did not know she meant this literally ... as in, 'here on the floor five feet from where I am announcing this -- and not inside a bag.'

Within days, it became part of our d├ęcor.

I only “re-discovered it” once the Dish Installer phoned to apologize for being an hour late, adding he was five minutes away.

I hustled about to re-tidy the living room and bedroom -- where our two TVs reside.

THAT is when the costume, lying for months in a pile, looked suddenly out of place. (Had I really vacuumed around it at Halloween?  Dusted it for Thanksgiving guests??)

The dude arrived before I could decide how to hang all of the infernal and complicated Deadpool Parts, so I tossed it in our bedroom, never guessing the bedroom television would be the first place a Dish Installer makes a beeline.

What was his surprise to step OVER a pair of tangled panty hose, a black leather corset, white coveralls and red & black face mask in a heap on the floor by the matrimonial bed.

I directed his attention upward to the television but it was too late.  He had stopped making eye contact.

Thank you Abby.

No wonder I can't 'On-Demand' anything.  The installer high-tailed it outta there prior to completing the installation-processes. Bad, Bad Abby.

Which brings me to my final cost-cutting plan.  Abby now owes me SOOO much manual labor as compensation for my embarassment, I am cancelling my Twice-Per-Year-Treat of Merry Maids and making her scour our home for Christmas.

And that is the final piece in my Grand Mal Puzzle that has become our Fiscal Salvation.

You know, after running the numbers it seems that, if we DO actually quit Starbucks, we could be back in the BLACK. 

No wait …  not only could I remain unemployed, my husband could RETIRE!

(Ha ha ha… that was me exercising ‘humor’ again.)

Actually, my husband needs to get a second job OR work into his 80s.  Starbucks:  it’s that important.