The excess spending of this spring and summer on events and trips and things, coupled with a nagging financial imbalance left-over from last winter’s inflated hydro billing, finally all caught up to me knocking the wind out of my happy-go-lucky sails. I cannot afford to do anything! I mean ANYTHING!

After a very lean late summer/early autumn where I saw my savings dwindle to zero as I cleaned up on every old can of whatever to be had in my cupboard. As a result I’ve recommitted myself to living within my means.

I need to accept that I can’t do anything. I can’t go anywhere. Period. I need to learn to say, “I’d love to go, but I can’t afford it.” It’s hard. It’s hard to pay the bills and have nothing left. And it’s really hard to be in the position of not having any food in the house and not being able to buy any more. This happened to me recently and lasted for a good little while … but no worries, I’m okay now.

I’ve had lean times before, like when I moved from Sackville to Newcastle, there were a couple of lean months, but this autumn was pretty bad. Huge eye-opening reminder! Like most people I know, I’m living about two months away from being homeless. And I need to stop! So I’m doing things a little differently. I’ve given up my gym membership. I’ve turned down some invitations. I’ve changed the way I buy groceries.

I’ve started buying cheaper non-perishables in bulk. My pantry is now full of canned and dried goods. I’ve started reading the sales and planning my list based on what’s on sale. I have five boxes of Stovetop Stuffing … which I never bought before in my life as a result of getting a good deal. I am amazed at how much generic brand crap that can be bought for a hundred bucks. And hey, Compliments brand ABCs are equally as disgusting as the pricier Heinz Alpha-ghetti. They are also surprisingly comforting as a hang-over cure-all.

Yesterday I made a casserole out of one boneless skinless chicken breast, a box of Kraft Dinner and Stovetop stuffing. I’m still podded and I have enough leftovers to last until tomorrow. This is economizing!

Another area I’m cutting costs is in hydro.

Last winter I pretty much kept the heat cranked all the time in all the rooms to keep the place comfortable. The winter before that I arrived late to the game (moved in February) but I was frugal with the heat because I had no idea how much electricity would cost because my last place was inclusive. So this winter I’m returning to the frugal ways of the first winter. There have been some pretty cold nights already, but I haven’t turned on the heat. And I’m not going to. Certainly not until November and I’m actually hoping late November. I’m in a good position because my apartment is surrounded on all sides by other apartments, so I should be able to steal some of their warmth. This year I’m winterizing the windows with plastic, which I’ve never done before. And I’m closing off the spare room. I did that the first winter and it seemed to make a difference. As for me, I don’t like the cold any more than the next person but I’ve got the heavy wool socks and sweaters and I’m ready to live a little cooler than last year.

I also got some blankets. If you’ll remember from past winters, blankets have been an issue. But now I’ve got more than enough. I like sleeping in a cool room actually, as long as the bed is warm. The bedrooms are the coldest rooms in the place, drafty around the windows. Even with the heat cranked last year, it was cold. But I think the blankets are going to make all the difference in the world. So far they really have. Last night dipped to a frigid minus 10 and I was snug as a bug in a rug … as long as I stayed in bed.

With the cost of electricity about to rise again this is one area where I really have to try hard to cut back. When everything is said and done I have about $400 a month left to pay hydro, buy groceries and do anything else that needs doing like taking a cab to work or buying birthday presents or going to the movies, or anything else that might come up. $400 a month for hydro and groceries isn’t much, especially in winter, let alone any extras. So you can imagine how terrible it can be to get a hydro bill that is well over $300, as happened last winter. I’m not letting that happen this year.

As for saying no thanks I can’t afford that … I’ve said no to a yoga/writing workshop, the WFNB Fall Literary Fair, a travel writing workshop, a wine festival, a women’s lunch, Matt Mays and Sam Roberts in concert together (I know!) and a slew of other things. It breaks my heart, but if I can’t afford it, I just can’t afford it. Sucks, but I guess it is what it is … so until further notice I am grounded. Staying home in my increasingly cool apartment and devoting my time to inventing new and unique recipes involving Kraft Dinner.

Mood: dizzy
Drinking: coffee
Listening To: buddy upstairs do laundry
Hair: still short ‘n sassy

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