Grocery Budget: As November is here, we have a new month of budgets. Yay! Last week, I hit PriceSmart with total abandon. I decided I was buying everything and anything I wanted. This a two-fold bad idea. First, I spent $355.35 in an hour- a whopping 56% of our new increased yogurt-friendly budget. Secondly, I decided to take this trip on the first of the month. It took me over 35 minutes in the checkout line. After a trip to Riba Smith (the American-style grocery store), we have used 60% of our grocery budget for the month. Hold on to your chairs, people. This could get interesting.
House Savings: Last month was a good one for our house savings. We were able to set aside just below 140% of our goal. Tony's vehicle needed work, or we would have been able to do more. I think that's going to be the official commentary of the house-savings plan: did well except for Tony's car work. Oh well. I'm thankful to not have to take him to work, and we have been able to afford it so far.
Update: Last week, I was discussing "wants" and "needs." I wanted to let you know that Tony believes the $1000/month for teachers is a huge OVERestimate. In his (educated) opinion, the number has to be lower. He felt it couldn't be higher than $750/month and likely wasn't that much. Please, realize how blessed you are!
As I've said before, I'm a slow spiritual learner. The Lord has to tell me the same thing multiple times until I can get it. I thought I was understanding the whole want and need thing. And I was, but the Lord had more for me to understand. My Bible study group talks a lot about lower and deeper. (Help us, Lord, to go lower before you so that we can go deeper into your heart.) I love that, and I can tell it's the financial path I'm on before Him.
When my grandmother passed away, I (as well as other family members) received an inheritance. (I'm hesitant to refer to it as "small" or "large" because those are very relative terms. All I'll say is that it was more than one dinner out and less that a 10-day trip to Disney World for 6. Clear as mud? Perfect.) I've been trying to determine what I wanted to do with it. My first reaction was high-end handbag. I love purses. I went to that fabulous LV store with the highly-recognizable monogram leather. I looked around. I fell in love with a pair of sunglasses- I love sunglasses. I had my picture taken with them and the sales clerk. It was a moment, but since Tony wasn't with me, I decided to not purchase. I went back to the store. I tried them on some more. They had a new pair I hadn't seen the first time. I stood there for 45 minutes trying to decide. I left. Without them.
Next door to the LV store is another high-end store (though significantly less expensive- the store with the gorgeous CH leathers. Not Coach. Keep thinking). Gorgeous handbags. GORGEOUS. I went back to look at them, but the store was closed. We returned to the mall the next day so I could look again. I settled on a bag that Tony and I loved. Carson liked it, too. Carson, like his father, has fabulous taste. (Unlike his father, Carson is brutally honest so don't ask him what he thinks unless you really want to know!) I made the decision to go get lunch at the food court first. We went and ate lunch. I had corvina. I always order corvina. We went back to the store. I tried out the purse again. It's gorgeous. I thought about it. I chatted with the employees. I told Tony that I couldn't do it. I just couldn't. We left. Purseless.
I asked Tony on the way home if I just wasn't the kind of person who could pull the trigger on an expensive item like purse or sunglasses. He was confident that I could spend big money on them. What was going on with me? We stopped at PriceSmart. I bought $5 orange juice. I think I bought it just to prove I could spend more than I needed to on something we didn't need. I had no problem with that purchase. I even splurged and let Carson buy baby carrots. No guilt. No second guessing. Why can't I bring myself to buy the purse? Or the sunglasses? (They were similar in price.)
As we were driving around Punta Pacifica (an affluent area of Panama City), it struck me. I am perfectly content with my current Kohl's sunglasses and Coach (30th birthday present) purse. It's not that I don't need another one. I can buy a purse without needing one. It's that I'm content with where I am- with who I am. The high-end purse no longer holds the same allure. Yes, they are gorgeous. Yes, the quality is better, but not enough to justify the price. I think I may offically be a grown up because I realized, just yesterday, that the brand of the purse doesn't say absolutely anything about whom I am. I have nothing to prove to anyone. And buying that purse or those sunglasses would have been all about show. I would have been buying it to prove to people I could afford it. And that's just pitiful.
It's that kind of insecurity that leads so many people into financial ruin. I've heard it said that debt is "buying things you don't need with money you don't have to impress people you don't like." I agree, but it's more than that. Our pastor in Illinois used to say that "the heart of every issue is an issue of the heart." If you're struggling with out-of-control finances, I challenge you to look at your heart and in your mirror. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. The Creator of the universe created you in His image. No brand names or expensive vacations or shopping sprees make you more than what He has already made you. Quite simplified: having more and spending more doesn't make you more. And what have I just learned? The ability to afford it doesn't change anything.