Most of you who read this blog probably know by now that I have a slightly compulsive personality. When I take an interest in something, I often become extremely preoccupied with it for a while before eventually losing interest. (Anyone who wants to guess at what my relationship with men has been like, please feel free.)
Right now, my issue of the moment is saving money. Like most Americans, I cannot help but worry over the state our economy is in. Gas prices are high and expected to keep rising, salaries are relatively flat, food costs more, etc. After a recent look at my personal spending habits and the shocking realization that I am spending WAY more than I should be on basic expenses (food, transport, you name it), I decided to put myself on a strict budget.
I also decided to put my ex on one, as well.
“C’mon,” I coaxed him. “We’ll see how well we can do on $100 per week for groceries. It’ll be fun! And I promise to do all the shopping.”
Somewhat skeptically, he agreed.
Monday was Day 1 of the $100 Per Week on Groceries Game. I went to Trader Joe’s and came home with food for three dinners, lunch for the entire week, and a bunch of snacks. And I was only $19 poorer for it.
On Day 2, it all went out the window. As I was preparing to make my cheap but gourmet dinner for the evening, my ex came into the kitchen.
“Can we have burgers tonight?” he asked, pitifully.
I shot him a death glare. “Burgers?” I repeated. “Burgers aren’t in the budget for this week.”
“But Erica, we make enough money. We can splurge on burgers.” Then, as if remembering himself, he said, “What am I saying? I don’t need your permission to have burgers for dinner. This is ridiculous.”
Exhausted from work, I decided it wasn’t worth arguing over and told him, yes, he may go to the store to pick up burgers. He smiled, realizing I wasn’t quite as crazy as he previously thought and headed off to the store to pick up his precious meat.
He arrived home about 20 minutes later and walked in without saying a word.
“Are you all right?” I asked. He was leaning against the wall, face flushed and dripping with sweat.
He stared at me for a few moments before speaking. Then he said, “We need to have a talk about rational behavior.”
“What do you mean?”
“Did you turn off the air conditioning in your car?” he asked. “To save money?” He looked like he was about to faint. Granted, it was probably close to 80 degrees out.
“Oh, yes,” I said proudly.
“You’ve gone off the deep end. That will save you probably $3 per year, you realize?”
I thought about it for a moment. “Yes, but everything counts. It all adds up.” I paused. “You’re welcome to use my air conditioning when you drive my car.”
“I am?” he asked.
“Yes, of course. Just pay me $3 for it.”
We didn’t speak for a while after that last night.