busting open the bread bag on the way home from the grocery store

This afternoon I was driving home from the Saturday errands and realized I was ravenously hungry. I’m one of those people who stops functioning when my blood sugar is low, so I NEED TO EAT when I feel hungry. As I drove out of the WinCo parking lot I noticed a Sonic next door. Before going on our “budget diet”, I would have pulled right up to the little order station and gotten hooked up with some tots and lime-cherry soda to tide me over until I got home. The hugeness of our financial goal means eating out is not really an option. [Ed. note: I just realized how gross fast food tater tots and soda are for a messed up metabolism! What was I thinking?!] And then… THEN I saw a Burgerville — a highly-regarded local chain that features locally sourced “slow” fast food and a seasonal menu in some ways similar to the relationship Californians have to In-N-Out. I was so tempted to pull over and try their food after hearing friends rave about it – and I was SOOO HUNGRY I could have easily justified it. Then I thought about Dave Ramsey and how he always counsels people trying to get out of debt “shouldn’t see the inside of a restaurant… unless [you’re] working there”

This story has an up-side. I had a little victory when I realized I could take some bread and hummus that I had just purchased fair and square with our grocery budget and make a nice and MUCH HEALTHIER snack for the 25 minute drive back home. Food budget victory! I would have never even thought about that before we put this budget into place and started heavily concentrating on ways to quickly eliminate our debt. Constantly treating yourself to small indulgences can become the equivalent of “death by paper cuts” in the financial world.

While we’re talking about food vignettes and in the spirit of transparency I should also admit that I had a food-related failure this week as well. There was one day this past week when I didn’t take my lunch break until 3:30pm and had to go back for the last 30 minutes of the day anyway. I was innocently going by the local library to pick up a book when I noticed that there was a McMenamins next door. I found myself heading inside to take advantage of happy hour at the bar — I ordered a beer and an appetizer. It was ‘only’ $7 with tip but it felt like a total rebellion because I was spending money for food I didn’t need to buy, and also because I was drinking a beer and then going back to work. A little like a decadent Mad Men-esque triple-martini lunch. Obviously I didn’t drink enough to even get tipsy or I would NOT be admitting this to the internet. I am sad that we are now $7 further away from meeting our $70k goal.

So there are my food stories of the week. Is this the equivalent of tweeting what I ate for breakfast? Or is it relevant enough to be interesting?

5 thoughts on “busting open the bread bag on the way home from the grocery store

  1. Alex

    I love reading these, Rachel! I obviously love reading about your adventures in portland because we are still planning our move there and it’s fun to see! I quit my secure day job last week (still doing web development 2 days a week) and find these posts very inspiring. We have been working on something similar budget-wise, so it’s nice to have others to read about going through similar situations. Keep em up, lady!

  2. micah

    You get a pass on this entry, Rachel. Since it is relevant to conquering your debt and its the first time you have discussed something you ate for lunch, I wouldn’t compare it to a self-indulgent tweet about your breakfast.

    I would try to avoid falling into the trap of complete avoidance of eating at a restaurant. I believe you have to reward yourself occasionally with a “treat” otherwise you are more likely to go bananas one day and really break your budget.

  3. Carol

    This entry it totally relevant! I have to admit my food failure recently too. The other day on my work from work to Chinatown to buy groceries, it was SO frigid that I kept thinking how good a bowl of pho would taste. And so I walked into Pho Pasteur and inhaled a warm bowl. It tasted amazing but I am still kicking myself for it.

    I’m still trying to learn and adapt to this ‘budget lifestyle.’ What’s key is remembering that its not just about spending less, but living a minimal/frugal lifestyle!! Obviously, that idea hasn’t been pounded into my head yet.

  4. rachel Post author

    Thanks for the pass, guys. Food is a really important part of our debt reduction technique — luckily I’m not a coffee drinker, so I don’t deal with the whole Starbucking-yourself-to-death but I didn’t realize how quickly eating out can drain your finances. Anytime you want to be social, the easy and quick way (so you don’t have to clean your house) is to go out for a drink or dinner with new friends. This project is forcing me to seriously rethink my life, and it’s curious indeed.

  5. Lucy Taylor

    Oh man, you’re killing me! I found your blog today via Maggie Stein. Your money issues and honesty are hitting home. I generally cry every time my husband and I have a budget meeting. Thank you for being so open! Also, I love that you switched to Nikon. I also shoot the F100 and the D700. :)


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