Why I Am So Controlling About the Grocery Money

Many years ago I read the book Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominez and Vicki Robin. In the book, along with a lot of other really helpful techniques, they advocate tracking your spending. Writing down every single cent that you spend and review it at the end of the month. They said, “You’ll be surprised.” Well, I was pretty sure I knew where my money went, but I did it anyway. At the end of the month, I knew that I was spending 40% of my take home pay on child care, that I spent more on gas than I did on groceries (though I got reimbursed for the work miles, I still had a 32 mile on-way commute) and that there was no money in the checking account for a trip to the movies. I had wanted to see Paris before I died, and it just didn’t look like it was going to happen.

It didn’t happen overnight, but I reduced my commute to 8 miles and then to 2, the kids got older and the day care costs went down. We went to the movies now and again. And I continue to track every cent I spend because it is such a useful tool in finding out if my money (and therefore time and life energy) are being spent on things that I value.

A couple of years ago, I figured out I had enough money to go to Paris. My daughter said she wanted to go too. I talked with the other kids and we came up with the idea of each of them taking a big trip with me before they leave home. My daughter went with me to Paris. My middle son and I are planning a trip to Italy in 2012 and my youngest son and I a trip to Australia sometime after that.

All because I watch what we eat.

Me and Notre Dame gargoyle (I am the one with the scarf)


4 responses to “Why I Am So Controlling About the Grocery Money

  1. You continually give me hope (and great ideas) that things of this seemingly enormous magnitude REALLY can be done!!
    *Thanks for clarifying the photo…I was stumped for a moment 🙂 *

  2. If we search, we will ALWAYS have enuf!

  3. This story is pretty amazing and you look fabulous on the picture, very “parisian-chic” 🙂
    I assume your minimalist lifestyle helped you free the money for these trips. But beyond financial considerations and managing money carefully, I would be interested to know if you think that minimlism also contributes to make room for dreams to take form and to free the energy to accomplish them? My point is that maybe it is not only about money? I know many people (including myself) that have dreams that remain on a very theoretical level because they feel overwhelmed by everyday life. I always thought that minimalist lifestyle and a simpler life would lead to a more focused life….

    • I do think that minimalism does leave room for dreams to take shape. I do think it is a very effective way to make everyday life not so overwhelming. But Beatrice, I gotta tell ya….I do not know anyway to make living with children under the age of two not overwhelming. For me, it was just the nature of that stage of life. Fresh and raw and exhausting.

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