Friday, August 28, 2015

Letting it go

The weather has been truly lovely this week, and we're trying to take advantage of it. G & I are both getting over being sick, so our energy isn't at 100%, making some of our outings a little more exhausting than fun, but we've made some nice memories.

We went on the annual daycare trip to a nearby amusement park. B is old enough to truly enjoy the rides & water fun. Everything was "Again! Again!" and the enthusiasm was contagious. L was still scared by a lot of the stuff---his expression at the end of the roller coaster (a really basic, made-for-kids short one) was of utter betrayal. "did you have fun L? wasn't that cool?" "---" (silence, with a look that read "why did you do this to me?! I thought you loved me?!". B had that same expression his first time on the trip, 2 years ago, so I recognized it instantly.

The only thing that marred the trip was my anxiety over spending money on over-priced unhealthy treats throughout the afternoon, when we had perfectly nice grapes, carrots, and cheese puffs left over in our back pack. My feelings that afternoon actually led me to write my last post; I composed it in my head on the bus ride home as I sighed and shrugged and snapped at my family.  It was one of the many instances when the act of writing and thinking through my feelings to get them down, as well as the interactions in the comments, clarified and maybe even changed my thinking on the issue. Why fret over a few dollars and ruin a perfectly nice day? That is not the point. Not the point of budgeting, not the point of frugality, and not the point of life.

Yesterday, G called me at 5:15 pm stating the kids are complaining about being starving even though they just ate the last of their snacks. He wanted me to meet him for some food somewhere. I braced myself for the spendy suggestion, but he actually decided we could get prepared food from the grocery store and have a picnic. Great idea! I brought toys & a picnic blanket & water and he brought a huge spread of chicken salad, fried chicken, 2 kinds of pasta salad, cheese, veggies, fruit. We all ate and then played frisbee for over 30 minutes in the almost-chilly evening. It was amazing. Yes, we spent more than we would've eating at home (I had defrosted some fish and we had some bread and salad stuff to eat with it) but we would've had so much less fun. The kids are already asking to do it again TONIGHT but we do have to eat that fish.

Last weekend I went to the gym while G took the boys to the park for over 2 hours. I came home & showered and relaxed. It was a nice morning. It was also hot out, and a couple of hours after the breakfast, so everyone was thirsty and hungry at the park so they went to a coffee shop and had food & drinks and then spent more time at the park. They came home happy and tired. And I fretted over the $10 spent at the coffee shop.  I mean, what were his choices? Listen to them complain about being hungry & tired and haul them home? Or say "You're hungry? So am I! Lets go get something and then we can play some more". (Yes, there is the option C, my favorite option, which is never to go anywhere without a stash of snacks and water, but I realize not everyone thinks 2---or 3 or 4---steps ahead of every decision, and as I mentioned before, its mentally exhausting to do that)

In terms of the snacks on the way home or taxi rides---I try to remind myself that G makes this 2 mile trip in snow & rain & heat & sickness and in health ten times a week. Its easy for me to say I would always walk or take the bus &  never give into whining for snacks when I don't have to deal with it. Its not every day or even several time a week. Maybe it averages out to once a week? Let it go.

This weekend is set up to be anxiety-provoking, money wise. The fifth weekend in the month, with little to nothing left in most budget categories. We do have some free fun planned---a birthday party, swimming, a park trip. But my goal is to not get upset about minor spending. We only have 3 more weekends of summer. I'm going to let it go.

13 comments:

  1. Also, one big thought on the previous thread, that I was kind of poking around. A big thing about allowances/mini-budgets is that they keep people (like me, and it sounds like you too) who tend to fret about things leeway not to fret. That's "his" money or that money is assigned to that category. (This was hugely freeing to me and still is-- I <3 DH's allowance so much.)

    If the current categories aren't working because you're fretting about them, maybe there's some structural re-jiggering of categories that will make everybody happier while still keeping to long-term goals. So you can save in a separate targeted fund for the bigger goals that you feel like you're missing out on, or decide that the smaller goals are more important and need more money assigned compared to other categories, or give the kids' their own allowances, or have a separate budget for fun out with kids, etc. etc. etc. There's infinite possible combinations that can help manage your money as a family in a way that's consistent with your values and goals.

    Managing money when you can't say "yes" to everything is really complicated! But I think when it feels like something isn't working, that's just a signal to try an alternate solution.

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    1. yes, I"m thinking about this, too. Whether the categories aren't working because they are not the right ones. I may play around with that for next month.

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    2. You might even be able to get the kids involved in the discussion!

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    3. my kids don't quite get the concept of money yet. they find a penny on the ground and want to buy a movie with it. "how many monies is that mommy" oh 15 dollars? so i need 3 more pennies?

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    4. It's never too early to start learning about trade-offs, even if it's just that trade-offs exist. (It's not the exact dollar amount that's so important as the trade-offs between scarce resources... if we do this, we can't do that, etc. What do they prefer? And specifically, what do they prefer when they're not in the moment but thinking about future preferences.)

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    5. good topic. may be its own post (or maybe you already have one?)

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    6. I don't think we do actually... I have a post on starting DC1 on an an allowance, but it doesn't really get into that https://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2010/11/16/the-allowances-post/

      And I think I've mentioned before that I'm a little worried that our kids may be locked into high-paying careers if we don't carefully teach them money management lessons that my sister and I learned growing up with a depression baby for a father. (Maybe that's not such a bad thing. Math is pretty fun.) But I don't think there's an actual post on that. I try to remember from time to time to show the kids (right now just the oldest) how to do price comparisons at the grocery store, even though we don't have to do it anymore. DH never learned how to do it growing up and I had to teach him when we got married, and now that we don't really need to do it anymore, he doesn't do it automatically and he does the bulk of the grocery shopping.

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  2. I can identify much more with this post than the last one. Being unhappy and stressed is not worth $10 (or $20, etc). I will adjust my YNAB categories as the month goes on so that I don't "fail". Put a little more in restaurants out of vacation savings, for example. Maybe that's defeating the purpose, but for me it isn't - I don't see the categories as hard lines but as guidelines. It helps my awareness but doesn't mean I feel terrible about going over in some things sometimes. The only category I won't "adjust' is our personal spending allowances.

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    1. Okay, and re: snacks: maybe pre-pack some snack bags for G to grab that have water bottles/trail mix/whatever? I totally don't think you SHOULD have to, but if he would take this and not spend $ that you don't want him to spend, it might be worth a shot. I pack Josh's lunch for this reason. (Because he is less likely to do it, and this ultimately saves us both $ and prevents wasted food.)

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    2. i do that often---or remind him to take something---but sometimes he goes while I'm at the gym or just decided to leave unexpectedly and I don't remember. we usually carry bars around, which one kid likes and one kid doesn't. I can't begin to explain how much B actually needs to eat. He eats more than I do---and I eat a LOT. He is constantly moving, and seems to be growing. Yesterday he ate apparently an entire turkey sandwich (2 slices thick hearty bread, 4 slices turkey, mayo & mustard) a bowl of carrot sticks, an orange and a glass of milk. 1.5 hours later, when he was at Target with G, he was STARVING and ate a bar and a bag of cheese puffs. that held him for another 1.5 hours when he ate more carrots, another piece of bread and THREE TACOS loaded with beans/chicken/cheese/guac, a glass of milk and then whined for more food and eventually ate an ice cream cone with chocoltae ice cream (from home).

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  3. Clif bars. Cheap and convenient. If your kids will eat them.

    But also, totally agree on letting the small stuff go, especially if it makes the other person happy.

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    1. oh all our bags and full of clif and other bars. L likes them but B doesn't really love them. he prefers savory snacks, like me. I'll eat a bar if there is literally nothing else available but i won't like it.

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