From Banana Bread to Budgeting

In all these years, I’ve never figured out what scared me more…

…being a single mom.

…being a mom with multiple sclerosis.

Okay, maybe being a single mom with multiple sclerosis.

I’ve definitely struggled to keep things together for many years.  It hasn’t always been easy.  In fact, most of the time it’s not.  Yet somehow, it wasn’t until yesterday morning when I opened the milk box on my front porch, that I realized it was time I needed to do something about my budget.

What was so special about yesterday?

I didn’t feel much like going to the grocery store, and I didn’t feel much like doing anything at all, so my order for the week consisted of the following:

1-lb applewood smoked bacon

3-half pints of chocolate milk (These are for my neighbor’s grandson who comes to check the milk box for HIS milk man deliveries.)

1 dozen extra-large eggs

2 packages of refrigerated fettuccine

16-oz of Alfredo sauce

16-oz cottage cheese

1 loaf of citrus bread

1 loaf of banana bread

Total cost for delivery:  $39.54

A few things struck me:

#1) I’ve never bought Alfredo sauce.  I always, always make my own white sauce, so why on earth did I order it?

#2) I can’t remember ordering the bacon, but it will certainly get used.

#3) Whatever I paid for a loaf of banana bread to be delivered, I bet I can certainly make several loaves for the same cost.  Especially considering that I’ve already got bananas in my freezer and all the necessary ingredients on hand.

It also occurred to me that in the shuffle of life, I’ve gotten in the habit of not paying attention to where all of my income is going.  I shrugged it off for a moment, thinking that’s easy to do with hungry teenagers, lots of medical and prescription co-pays, student loan repayment, excessive trips to the fabric store, and just running a household in general.

Yet sometimes responsibility has to trump convenience.

I’ve always thought that it helped my grocery budget to have the milk man deliver certain things on a weekly basis.  My standing order was: 1/2-gallon milk; 1 quart half-and-half; 1 dozen eggs; 1 loaf of bread.

Then somewhere along the way, I decided to go a little hog wild.

Really, a loaf of banana bread delivered by the milk man?

I suppose if banana bread is my catalyst for change, I should welcome it.

Enter the need for a little more critical thinking and responsibility.

It’s estimated that over the course of a lifetime, the total costs associated with MS run about $2.2 million dollars per individual.  That’s a scary reality.

Add in the costs of raising children, which is estimated around $245,340 each–not including college tuition. (This is based on children born in 2013.  My children were born slightly way before then.) Just pretending I’m even in the right ballpark, I can say with absolute certainty that I should be baking my own banana bread.

If budgeting for groceries wasn’t already on my mind, my brother also asked me yesterday if I could recommend a great accountant.

My response…

I’ve never had enough money to hire an accountant.

I save for retirement, but that’s about it.  Perhaps if I make my way back to a budget, a weekly menu, and a shopping list (and stay out of my local quilt shops), he might be able to recommend a great accountant for me.

Despite all my self-imposed budgeting turmoil, it was really good banana bread, even more so because I smeared my slice with a bunch of salted butter.  

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  • This post is touching and funny and so wise. I keep getting Walmart coupons for $10 to try their order online-pick up service. Ugh. I just know that I will wind up ordering the craziest things just because I can. I don’t want to even try it. Too dangerous. While I don’t, thankfully, have MS, I can completely relate to the scariness of single motherhood. SCARY. And the expenses. I saddle my children with student loans because the college money I had saved ran out pretty quickly. College loans they are still paying on today. Guilt. Guilt. Love your writing, Joy. So glad to have more of it to read.

    • Ah thanks Leslie! You’re the best. I’m certain my kids might need student loans along the way, too. I will still be paying mine. Maybe I didn’t have that all planned out well. It all works out in the end though, doesn’t it?