Bird and Belle's Adventures in Marriage

Eliza Doolittle On A Budget


“Well I just don’t want to think about it. I’m ignoring the entire thing!” huffs a perturbed young Belle as stomps out of the kitchen and into her room.

“Ok, Eliza Doolittle,” my mother calls out.

I huff louder, shut my door and retreat into Belle Land – also known as the land of great delusion and ignoring of all things important, stressful, pressing and… financial.

Please click the image to enlarge: This week's grocery list and yes, it is often this organized! This week, however, I spent time online finding what is on sale at different stores and building our meals/lists around those. I also took into consideration what we already had at home. Items in green are from the local Co-Op, items in black are from Kroger, notes in red are details on store promotions and special savings.

Sadly, this is still a pretty accurate description whenever finances are brought up. I really don’t like thinking about money and financial planning. I’ve made numerous attempts to address money, and even sought guidance from my financially savvy friend Natalie, but my attempts are weak and I always return to financial oblivion. I like it in oblivion.

After Bird and I said “I do” we sat down to discuss money and how we handle it. Bird is financially responsible, organized and is quite capable of living with a credit card but never carrying a balance. I am not – hence not having one. Five minutes into the discussion I felt Eliza taking over – “Whatever you want,” I exploded. “Actually, how about you handle all finances? Tell me if something is wrong, otherwise, I don’t want to know!”

After a little more verbal sparring it was agreed that this was how we would manage our money. He would manage; I would pretend it did not exist. I called Natalie to tell her about this great new development. I expected some cheering. Instead I got a long pause. “You know that won’t work, right?” she asked.

Of course it will! And it did for the next six months.

Then Christmas happened and we started looking at real estate in the cities we hope to move. My excitement grew as I scrolled through online listings of well-renovated historic homes. I could visualize our cats in the big windows and smell my dinner in the gourmet kitchen. And then I would see the price tag. I searched for a mortgage calculator to see what a payment on one of these homes would be and I nearly barfed. The skies were darkening in Belle Land so I quickly put buying a house out of my mind.

After returning home Bird and I had a serious discussion. While I am perfectly content to rent a home until the day I die, Bird is not. In order to buy a home we just have to have some money in the bank and this money, tragically, will not appear without us both working towards it. So after substantial stressing out on my end, we chose to start tracking every dollar that exits the account in order to better understand where it all goes.

Two weeks into the tracking and I’m hooked. Together, we record everything we buy on a piece of paper hanging on the fridge. It is a rather archaic system, but agrees with Eliza. She can handle a piece of paper but please God keep Mint and other such online financial tools away!

Fueling my saving fury is the $5/person/day challenge that Krista and Jess have set for the month of January. Talk about a noble venture! And amazingly, they still eat very well. While I am quite neurotic and love this sort of obsessive tracking, I do not think there are enough hours in my days to dedicate to daily tallying and posting. Nor do I think $5 a day would feed us. I’m pretty active and Bird is a big guy whose tall frame requires a good bit of fuel. Without adequate food we get grumpy and no one likes a grumpy spouse. No one.

What we can do is continue to track our expenditures and use more care in planning meals. Can we prepare more simple meals with fewer ingredients that still pack as much nutritional punch? Can my lunches be simplified? Where else does the monthly income go? I like this new financial endeavor that we are embarking on together. Having Bird by my side as I monitor the sheet on the fridge makes it all easier to stomach. I think that tying it back to my favorite pastime – cooking – will help me stick with it. I also think the promise of a gourmet kitchen in Seattle, San Francisco or Chicago might make the entire thing plausible. Time will tell.


7 thoughts on “Eliza Doolittle On A Budget

  1. I think Faith has stumbled upon a new word! A visceral yearn = a yurn. Most of us truly yurn to be free of financial worries, complications, or challenges! But, next best to being free of these things is managing them well, so carry on B & B.

    I am also with Faith on sunshine (except during July and August). It’s 75 and sunny. I am going for a walk. Come visit AZ, Faith.

  2. OMG!…yearn……good thing I never became a journalist 😦

  3. Thanks for the link!

    We aren’t getting a lot of exercise this month since we’re spending so much time on this project and have desk jobs. If we were working out, we’d definitely have to increase our calories. However, the 6 foot tall 14 year-old reports the only time he’s been hungry is when dinner ends up being really late (which has been a lot this week!). Although some days we have been too busy or not well planned enough on getting all our snacks in.

    This version where we calculate and photograph and blog everything is a lot of work, but what we’re taking away is cooking at home and buying a lot of ingredients in bulk or on sale can save us a ton of money. I think we can do a less documented and restricted version of this and still save a ton of money.

    • Well the fact that your six-footer is not ravished come dinner time is encouraging! Bird and I are learning a lot so far, too. This week’s big discovery has been ordering things on Amazon. I was able to get two 44oz jugs of raw agave nectar for $18 bucks, which in Kentucky is just not possible! Cheers to budgets and new recipes!

  4. First I have to say I like this entry and I am so proud of you for tracking your money. It spends so easily and so quickly over the years, especially when people are raising a family. Thirty years from now there won’t be any do overs. You and Jay are on the right track! I also like Faithes’ comment, “Using the dollar to your advantage and not having it use you…”. That is an excellent concept!

    Now I have to make a correction, no eye rolling and please don’t think of this as “rain on your parade”. I used to call you Miss Scarlet on occasion (not Eliza Doolitle), referring to Scarlet O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. Whenever life became too complicated for Scarlet she would say something like, “I can’t think about this anymore, I shall think about it tomorrow”. See any connection?

    Love ya kid! Keep tracking!!

  5. This is a fabulous idea. How refreshing! There is a sense of freedom about it that I urn for….financial freedom. Using the dollar to your advantage on not having it use you for stress, guilt, therapy..etc.

    As I look outside my window at the white sky blending into the white ground for the umpteenth day in a row, I wonder why my southern belle cousin would choose cities that are notoriously grey.

    Give me sunshine or give me death! (oooohh..I feel a blog post coming about)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s