Posts Tagged ‘ budget ’

Is It Cheaper To Go Vegan/Vegetarian?

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

2 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

In theory, a family who buys no meat products should have a lower grocery bill each week. We don’t, though.

However, we still spend less money on food; it just depends on a person’s definition of groceries…

As you lifted up the “tailgate” (box flap) of your “pick-up truck” (Chobani yogurt box) and started to “drive it” (pinched the box with a pair of salad tongs) it somehow prompted me to discuss with Mommy how much our grocery bill has went up or down, compared to the days before we were aware of things like Yellow 5, sodium laurel sulfate, and Monsanto.

Our grocery bill is actually the same amount as it was when we were carnivores. This is because we make up for the cost of meat by buying higher quality (and more expensive) vegetables, fruits, and grains.

It’s not just about avoiding meat, it’s about avoiding toxic chemicals like artificial colors, flavors, MSG, and GMO’s.

Since our conversion, we have learned there are actually few food brands that we trust anymore. One of the few is Chobani.

While most brands try to disguise their ingredients, Chobani is very clear about what is and is not in their products.

They are one of the few exceptions we have found; as well as Annie’s Homegrown. We simply ignore most other brands, because we don’t trust them.

We are paying for quality and it’s worth it, to us.

So even though our grocery bill is the same, what has definitely changed is the amount of money we spend on eating at restaurants. It used to be between $100 and $200 a month, now it’s basically zero.

It’s not a moral issue; instead, it just seems pointless by now. Mommy has, by default, become a vegan/vegetarian chef for our family; thanks in part to the Oh She Glows recipe website.

Making delicious healthy meals is now becoming a sacred (and fun) thing for our family. It is difficult for us to trust random strangers at restaurants who we have to assume may be cooking our food in or with mysterious chemicals. Not to mention, a restaurant meal typically doesn’t ensure leftovers for lunch the next day, the way a home-cooked meal easily does.

To answer the question of whether it’s cheaper to go vegan/vegetarian, the answer is ultimately yes. We now save between at least $100 to $200 a month by simply avoiding restaurants alone.






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Will Cash Be Obsolete To The Class Of 2029?

Monday, February 4th, 2013

2 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack,

This past Saturday morning as I laid down on the floor in a haze, having woken up at 5:40 AM with you, I watched you carry around one of Mommy’s old purses, which for some reason you called your “wallet like Daddy’s.”

You then took out an old expired debit card and slid it across your high chair:

“I buy groceries with my money.”

The fact you have quietly observed Mommy and I scan our debit card enough times to associate that action with the word “money” is interesting to me.

You do understand the concept of coins being money because you have a piggy bank.

However, I’m pretty sure you have no idea what cash is. I just don’t know that you’ve ever seen Mommy or I use it.

By the time I graduated high school in 1999, I had never even heard of a debit card. All I ever used to buy anything was the green stuff, not a card.

You will graduate high school exactly 30 years after Mommy and I did. It will be the year 2029.

I’m wondering by the time you’re 18, if using cash to buy something will be as obsolete as land line phones, video rental stores, or writing checks.

To you, money may simply be a debit card. (We are Dave Ramsey followers so the thought of a credit card is taboo in our family.)

As for me, I grew up seeing how much each individual bill was worth. I knew that I preferred a $10 bill over a $1 bill. The numbers meant something more… certainly quantifiable.

For you, though, the concept of money will be much different if you grow up using a debit card instead of cash. When you look down at a debit card, you won’t literally see a sign noting $20.

Therefore, it becomes your parents’ responsibility to teach you the importance of budgeting. We must incorporate in your mind that a debit card does not symbolize simply the total amount of money in the account, but more importantly, it symbolizes the key to accessing the specific amount set aside for that exact purchase that particular day.

Mommy and I have definitely had to learn the hard way when it comes to money. But this week, we are paying off our other car.

Then, we’ll just have the rest of my student loans before we’re debt-free.

I think it’s cool to see you scan your debit card like Mommy and Daddy. I really look forward to teaching you how money works; even if it’s without getting our hands on cold, hard cash.





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The Importance Of Being Bored, As A Parent

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

15 months.

For my son, boredom is basically non-existent. He can find entertainment out of poking me in the eye. But for a parent, boredom is a rare, higher state of being; in other words, it’s basically nirvana.

Even when he is asleep, the dishes are done, lunches are packed, and emails are checked, there’s still some kind of necessary “wind-down” time that has to take place which probably involves half-way watching American Idol, while being pretty confident that Jessica Sanchez has already won it anyway.

Then I realize, “Hey, I could be sleeping right now.”

Sleep is the go-to activity when there is ever actually extra time left in the day. But in rare instances, it can even be possible as a parent to enter the much elusive state of boredom.

Last week, I had to go somewhere after dinner for about an hour; during the time of night my wife and I generally watch an episode or two of Lost together on Netflix streaming. When I walked in, I saw my wife on the couch, playing on Facebook.

With a curious smile on her face, she said, “While you were gone, I got bored.”

That was a big deal. I can’t remember the last time she said that to me. Was it before our son was born? Before she was even pregnant? I don’t know, but it’s been long enough for it to be a foreign concept.

Boredom doesn’t really happen in our house. But I really wouldn’t mind it happening more often.

It makes me think of the concept of disposable income. You have more of it before you have kids. But then it shrinks to the point that if you any cash somehow floating up from the budget, it’s hard to spend it on something other than paying off other bills or adding it into savings.

Similarly, the state of boredom rarely gets to be consumed as is. Instead, it often translates as “I really should be doing something productive with this window of free time.”

I almost laugh at the concept of having of me having hobby, unless it’s something I do during my lunch break at work. Because hobbies require free time; time during which I would otherwise be bored.

So today, I wish the blessing of boredom upon all parents who read this.

Unless this article itself made you bored. In that case, I revoke my blessing.

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The New Version of Our Old Selves

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Seven months.

After all the plotlines my wife and I have lived through in accordance to our move from Nashville to my hometown in Alabama, and now back to Nashville again, it’s only natural for us to wonder: Why?

Q) Why did we spend seven months and [x amount] of dollars to live here in my hometown, only to have to go back to where we came from?

A) It took moving away from Nashville to cause us to become positively changed people so that we could go back to Nashville as the necessarily improved versions of ourselves.  But we didn’t know any of this when we left Nashville.

I can confidently say that living in the small town of Fort Payne, Alabama has caused us to fully adopt the millionaire mindset (living as frugally as possible.)  Because we became Dave Ramsey followers shortly after we got married and have since been living on a budget, we thought we were doing pretty well when it came to financially planning our lives.

But we had much more to learn.  And I know for a fact I would have never learned to be this much of a penny-pincher if it weren’t for my unemployment and my wife’s inability to get a job, despite having a Master’s degree.

The move to Alabama has been the most humiliating process I have endured in my life:  Note that when I used the word “humiliating” just now, I meant it in the sense of being humbled and disciplined, not embarrassed or shamed.  (Here’s Wikipedia’s definition: “Humiliation is the abasement of pride, which creates mortification or leads to a state of being humbled or reduced to lowliness or submission.”)

Looking back, I can see how our former budget allotted my wife and I too much “blow money” (Dave Ramsey’s term for extra cash for personal enjoyment), too much “gift money” (money spent on gifts for birthday and Christmas gifts for our friends and family), and too much “food money” (money spent on eating out at restaurants and going out for coffee on the weekend).  Not only that, but now we have learned to ask the question, “What will cause us to earn/save the most money?” when making any decision, big or small.

The version of me from a year ago just didn’t care about money.  I only cared about happiness.  And that was an epic flaw in my thinking.  Now I realize that without conservative financial planning, I will not have sanity.  And without sanity, I can not be happy anyway.

The truth is this: Without moving to my hometown and being psychologically broken down, I would have never been a responsible enough decision maker when it came to finances.  Moving to Fort Payne was the only cure for my disease.

It’s more than just refusing to use a credit card or to buy name brand products.  It’s a matter of taking my finances nearly as seriously as I take my love for my wife and son, health, and my religious beliefs.  So now as we rebuild our lives again, we will be able to be better stewards of our income.  Our money will be better saved, better spent, and better given away.

Photos courtesy of Moments in Time Photography in Fort Payne, Alabama:

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