I am currently sitting in a very cold house right now and thinking how fortunate I am to be making more than minimum wage.
One of two months of living on a pretax minimum wage budget has now been accomplished, and I still had $4.07 left when the clock struck midnight on February 28. It was tough at times, but overall, it just took a lot of planning in terms of meals and paying off all of my bills at the beginning of the month.
One of the most important things I learned is that the freezer is a powerful tool, and that leftovers should head there rather than the trash. I really wish I could say that practice was already part of my habits, but it wasn’t for the most part. It now will be.
Then there were the social situations I avoided. Throughout the month, some lunch and dinner invitations came my way. All but one were answered with the similar answer of “My schedule is crazy this week, so there is no way. Let’s get together soon though.” I thought about explaining to them my whole New Year’s Resolution task, but that would have led to their offering to buy, which would have defeated the purpose. With that being said, I did return to college student mode, and if there was a free meal, I was there. Thanks to the Annual Chamber Dinner, a dinner panel discussion, a dinner before an HCC business forum, a conference lunch, a lunch to discuss offering some professional development sessions for a company, and two Honors movie/pizza nights, I had some tasty meals covered.
Those meals also helped bring diversity to my weekly menu. Otherwise, whatever I would make for New Recipe Sunday, I would have for most of the meals of the week with some salads and tacos thrown in here and there. There were quite a few times I found myself craving something else, but with leftovers on hand and a quickly dwindling budget, those cravings could not be satisfied.
Also, I had to hope that no sicknesses or emergencies struck during that month. There were a few days where I feared illness was getting the better of me, but after getting some rest and trying some of my favorite Old Wives’ Tales for remedies, the symptoms dissipated, and I didn’t have to worry about how to fit a doctor’s visit and medicine into my budget.
While February kept me safe from emergencies, I woke up this morning quite cold as I listened to the wind and falling ice crystals outside my window. I thought I was being lazy as I pulled the covers even tighter around me and resisted the urge to crawl out of bed. When I finally did, the house seeming uncommonly cold was happening for a reason. Sometime in the middle of the night, my furnace decided to stop working, which led to my house being a not-so-toasty 53 degrees.
If I were truly on a minimum wage budget, I would probably be freaking out right now. However, I have called the service people, and they are on their way. The furnace was just installed a little over a year ago, so everything should be covered by the warranty. Still, I sit here with cold fingers and greatly appreciate the luxury of making more than minimum wage.