In the first month or so of using the envelope system of budgeting, I enjoyed seeing the cash mount up, and decided to put a limit of $300 in any one envelope because, after all, who wants to be carrying all that money around.
Then reality hit. I now realize none of them will ever have $300 in them, not even close.
The pet envelope was filling up nicely until Iris ran out of dog food, heart worm preventative, and flea-and-tick stuff all at the same time. Maybe it really does cost $20 a week to keep a dog. OK, my cow expenses come from that envelope too, but Bonnie doesn't require much. We don't have to board her when we leave; I only give her sweet feed when I milk her, which is maybe twice a week. Grass is free, and so far, so is the hay. She just gives and gives, and asks little in return.
The "Doctors and meds" envelope gets more money than any other one, $35 a week. Yes, we have insurance, but there are those pesky co-pays. Lipitor is expensive, and there's no generic. It's the same with Niaspan. There's little chance of extra money accumulating in that envelope for long.
Next week, by the way, Cliff will go for a nuclear stress test. Not because he's having a problem, but because it will soon be five years since his heart surgery and the cardiologist wants to make sure everything is working as it should. That's a $35 copay.
This envelope thing gets a little tricky when I'm shopping at Walmart. Last Friday I needed dog food (pets), some socks (clothes and haircuts) and of course, groceries. As it happened, there was correct change in all the envelopes for me to take cash out of two envelopes and put it in my grocery envelope, sparing me the embarrassment of asking the cashier to ring all these things separately.
There's a different kind of problem with my grocery allotment, which is $70 per week.
It's more, so far, than I ever spend. Two weeks out of three, I spend less than $40.
So if I get $100 or so ahead, I buy stuff I really don't need, or we eat out. We should never eat out, because everything is so over-salted at restaurants that it isn't healthy for anyone, especially someone who's had a heart problem. Besides, when I'm living out of envelopes, I can't help thinking about how many groceries that $25 we spent at Olive Garden would have bought.
What I need to do is allow less cash for groceries, say $50 weekly.
I imagine I will do that, once Cliff retires.
With his retirement looming, we're both more aware of the price of fuel. We don't jump in the car and go buy something the minute we run out of it. If we need anything from a farm store we'll wait until shopping day and drive twenty-five miles to Richmond because there's an Orscheln's and a Walmart there; we make one trip serve two purposes. If we only need a few groceries, we sometimes shop in Lexington, eight miles away. If I have several non-grocery items, we go fifteen miles to the nearest Walmart, even though it's a small one and doesn't always have the biggest selection.
The only time we make unnecessary trips is when we're joy-riding on the motorcycle. It's what we do for fun, and we'll continue that as long as possible.
All this penny-pinching isn't necessary right now; we could live high on the hog while we have the chance. But I'm actually enjoying it, and this way it won't be so much of a shock to me when I actually have to do it.
Prepare as I might, I'm sure we'll be in for some surprises, especially if the government starts messing with Social Security and Medicare.
We'll take it one day at a time, just like we always have.