The NewLife household is NOT the US government

So why in the hell are we having so much trouble balancing our budget?

It’s not like we don’t make a decent amount of money. Between The Zen Master’s meagar income and my own somewhat better income, we are trending towards the low end of the middle of the middle class.

Yup… Right on the cul-de-sac

Wait… The low end… middle… no, I think I got it right. We qualify for medicaid for the girls but not for food stamps or fuel assistance or anything. We are just outside the income limit for the EITC… Or near it. Or something. We seem to make enough that we don’t qualify for (much) assistance but not enough to pay our bills reliably. We got rid of the cable. We slashed our grocery bill as much as humanly possible. We are not going out to eat anymore. We are trying not to go out to eat anymore. The Zen Master and myself make do with our existing wardrobe and the girls are clothed in Thrift Shop Chic.  We conserve gas as much as possible because I swear that’s where half of our money goes. We no longer buy the expensive pet food and make do with the grocery store cheap stuff. Fairy Dog likes it better anyways. We try to turn out lights and TV’s and computers and we keep the heat as low as we can with a baby in the house.

Yet we still seem to come up short every month.

Apparently when you “leave the bills to them,” you still have to use YOUR money. Truth in advertising anyone?

The past month or so has been fine since I had my nice OT money coming in and I was able to pay the electric bill in full so we are finally caught up and I paid down the credit card a little bit and I was even able to make sure Princess Punk had a nice birthday. But my next paycheck will be back to normal and I’m dreading that breathless feeling that I get when I swipe my card at the grocery store, watching and waiting for that little green APPROVED like a starving man watching a toaster. I can’t think of very many things more humiliating than having to pick through all the scanned groceries trying to decide which is more important, milk or eggs? All the while the cashier is standing there staring blankly and the 70 people behind you in line (at least half of which are parents of your children’s friends) sigh noisily and tap their collective foot.

I keep working at it. Keep tweaking here and there, trying to make it all fit in so my tidy little spreadsheet totals don’t have parentheses hugging them.

I’m getting better at the not screwing up thing. The thought, “I can buy lunch today because I just got paid and I actually have money in my account!” is now followed up with “Oh wait, that money is for groceries and the fuel bill is due this month and I have to put gas in my car tomorrow.” And I pass up buying the $8 wrap at the overpriced sandwich shop across the street from my job. Most of the time. And I try not to go into the grocery store unless I have a list. And I stick to my list when I have it. And I go through the drive-thru at the pharmacy to pick up all of our various prescriptions instead of going into the store where I would inevitably buy something we really didn’t need.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

So I’m trying to stay positive about it. Because I really am shitty about money and I really have come a long way and it’s still a work in progress.

But I’m getting there.

And I WILL balance my goddamn budget.

Someday.

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