One change at a time

Twice in my past, I’ve worked in weight-loss clinics.  One was hospital-sponsored and one was private physician-sponsored.  I’ve taught a lot of weight loss classes, both in those settings and in other jobs I’ve had.  I’ve also taught stop-smoking classes.  There is one thing I always emphasized in those: only put yourself through one change at a time.  If you’re just starting an eating plan, don’t try to stop smoking at the same time.  Get established on the eating plan, then stop smoking.  If you’re going through a divorce, don’t try to lose weight at the same time.  Get through the divorce, then lose the weight.  You get the idea.

I’ve read a few discussions in blogs (which I cannot find to link to now, of course) that talk about the same principle, in terms of managing weight and managing money.  Most people seem to find that they have trouble doing both at the same time.  If they’re doing well in one of the areas, the other suffers.

Boy, have I been a shining example of that in the past few months.  (For all of 2009 so far, actually.)  In January and February, I did well sticking to my budget.  I had a little money left over at the end of January, and a little more in February.  However, I was getting exactly zero exercise.  Since then, though, the situation has reversed.  I’ve been getting more exercise and doing more yard work (although I’m not tracking my meals), but my expenses have exploded.  Ack.

In March, I went on vacation during spring break.  Even though I only went to my parents’ and it didn’t cost anything



but 3 tanks of gas, I had to put Ralph in the kennel.  That adds up quickly.  I think it was around $300.  That was also the month that I had two haircuts and two payments to the CSA during the same month, since there were five Saturdays and both of those fell on the first and the last Saturday of March.  March is also the month for Ralph’s yearly trip to the vet, and he got started on glucosamine powder, at $53.00.  That lasts him a month.  All of that wasn’t terrible, but it got the ball rolling.

In April, I ate out too often.  I had Ralph’s new medicine to pay for again, and several of my own prescriptions came due (I only refill most of them every 3 months).  Also, several pieces of clothing that I had had my eye on for some time went on sale.

This month is only half over, and it’s already been extremely expensive.  Here’s the rundown:

  • May 1.  Ralph’s heartworm/flea medicine has to be renewed (it comes due every 6 months).  $110.00 from Drs. Foster and Smith.
  • May 2.  I receive an unexpected bill from a book club to which I belong.  I didn’t mean to order these two books, but they came anyway, and I decided to keep them because they looked interesting (and they were).  $36.00.
  • May 3.  My membership to AARP comes due.  Not expensive, but still an unexpected bill.  $49.00 for five years.
  • May 4.  I leave to spend the week in Orlando at the Florida Library Association Annual Conference.  Dinner out at a yummy soul food restaurant; about $20.00.  (I paid cash and apparently tossed the receipt.)
  • May 5.  Our one down day at the conference, so we go shopping.  I find some great bargains: four pairs of capris at Macy’s ($25.00 each); an organic cotton duvet cover for my bedroom, exactly what I had been looking for, marked down from $189 to $47; a jacket that goes with lots of things I have and I will wear forever, at Chico’s, 30% off, $54.00; and lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, $23.00.
  • May 6 and 7.  More eating out, for lunch and/or dinner.  I took cereal to eat for breakfast every day.  We are too busy for me to spend any money otherwise, thank goodness.
  • May 8.  We check out of the hotel; my half of the room bill is $319.  We drive home; I go pick up Ralph at the spa; $223.00.  I also note that gasoline has gone up $0.10 since we’ve been gone; a tank full is $30.00 at Hess.
  • May 9.  I go through my accumulated mail; my Florida State University Alumni Association membership is due.  $45.00.
  • May 10.  Big sale at TravelSmith.  $19.00.
  • May 11.  Big sale at Orvis.  $123.00 (for four pieces).
  • May 12.  Another bit of mail from last week informed me that I am out of compliance with the city code on the size and visibility of house numbers.  I go to Lowes to remedy the situation; $32.00.
  • May 13.  I stay home.  However, my cable bill gets deducted (automatically) from my checking account, and I note with displeasure that it has gone up $4.00.
  • May 14.  A trip to the dentist for a necessary crown on a molar; $575.00 (and that’s with my insurance paying 40%).  On the way home, I stop at my insurance agent’s office and pay my homeowners’ insurance renewal for the year; $589.00.
  • Which brings us to yesterday.  Another piece of last week’s mail informed me that because my house is more than 25 years old, I have to have a roof inspection to renew my windstorm insurance [this is separate from homeowners’ insurance, which does not cover windstorm (read: hurricane) damage].  I call the inspector; he’ll be out next Tuesday.  $45.00. 
  • The same piece of mail informs me that my windstorm insurance premium is increasing, from $495 last year to $745 this year.  I guess I should be glad it’s not more than that.  The only good news is that it’s not due until late June.
  • I also note today that I am almost out of Ralph’s glucosamine powder.  That’ll be another $53.00 next week to the vet.  (I’ve looked online, and it’s only a dollar or two cheaper.  Might as well pay the vet; he’s a small businessman and that money stays in the community.)
  • Every time I start my car, my oil light comes on, because it’s been more than 6000 miles since my last one.  I call Saturn to make an appointment.  That will be about $25.00.
  • On May 23, I have two separate high school graduation parties to attend; two of my best friends have daughters, both of whom I have known for most of their lives, who are graduating next week.  I’ll need to get cards for both and give them a small gift (read: money).  Total: about $55.

Once more: ack.

Next month is absolutely going to be a no spending month.

Thank heavens for emergency funds.


One response to “One change at a time

  1. Pingback: How are those goals coming? « Treading Softly

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