I have a confession to make. I have not been practicing what I preach. These last few weeks we've been getting hit with large expenses for home maintenance ($7k+) and realized that we have allowed our lackadaisical financial behaviors to result in our feeling the squeeze this week. It all came to a head with the straw that broke the camel's back: our maid wants to increase her prices by $20 per visit. She comes once a week at $110/visit. Now she wants to increase her prices to meet what she's earning at new clients' homes.
We immediately began discussing how we were going to afford this additional $80/mo. Or how we could do more cleaning around the house so she could come less frequently. I brought up our many subscriptions and whether they were necessary or worth the price. I reminded my spouse of our household income and how paying for her time was worth it so that we wouldn't have to spend our own time. Plus she likes the work, and does an excellent job. We are keeping her... we just need to figure out the other aspects of our lives we need to adjust to accommodate it. We ran down other spending habits and remembered that my office making my return to work mandatory meant his meal prep Sundays were stretching our food dollars, and that he no longer had to commute 3 days a week to pick up our child at preschool - that's gas and time savings.
We discussed our biweekly Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box subscription at $70 per delivery, and my wheat bran auto-delivery every six weeks to feed my mealworm hobby. We discussed our desire to send our child to a bilingual preschool, which has a $340/month higher tuition than we currently pay and whether we should still try to send him. We discussed my recent personal trainer expenses at $70/week. I can cut that down if I subscribe to other fitness programs like the more recent purchase of a $200 6 week challenge at a gym. Going forward, it will be a $100/month subscription. If I manage to go more than twice each month, I will have saved $180/month and gotten the workouts in.
We both very briefly discussed our biggest offender: eating out. It's a pleasure for us both, and we were both reluctant to touch it. I like having him do meal prep Sundays, where he spends Sunday grocery shopping and cooking the week's worth of lunches. He nicely divvies the protein, veggies, and rice out into stackable containers for me to bring to work or for us to have on my busier work from home (WFH) days. It saves us the cost of eating out during those meals, but he doesn't always have the energy to cook dinners too. I have cooked 1.5 times during the pandemic. At this point, the mental load for meals is all on him, and I'm happy to exchange dollars for not taking that mental load onto me.
So... it's much easier for me to budget eating out than it is for me to cook. A strange side benefit of doing the 6 week challenge is that it put me on a no carb, no dairy diet. This makes it difficult to eat out. We've been able to benefit from this restrictive diet because he supports me by going on the ketogenic diet (low-carb), and so the whole family eats a pretty low-carb diet during our mealtimes. Meat and keto snacks aren't cheap, but eating at home still saves us lots of money.
After our conversation, I began this blog article. In the course of writing it, I realized I could do more around the house to mitigate the need for our maid to come so frequently. I have since begun doing more household maintenance activities. (Side perk of more energy from the cardio classes?) I discontinued my recurring delivery for my mealworm hobby. He discontinued our CSA box.
Crisis averted: We managed to make the necessary adjustments to afford our maid, and we were able to re-evaluate our spending in the process. It's always good to do a periodic budget check to make sure we're still moving towards our goals in life. When was the last time you had this conversation with yourself or with your significant other(s)?