Friday, February 24, 2006

The House Diet

Mr. Chick and I are on The House Diet. Which is eerily similar to The Law School Diet. Meaning, we're back to watching our pennies and spending wisely. Which we normally do, but in recent months we've been able to loosen the belt a bit, which has been nice. Really nice. But now we're back to tightening back up that belt in anticipation of making the jump to the new house and the new house payment. I'm getting tired of that damn belt already.

We (and by we I mean Mr. Chick) is pretty good with money. As a CPA he should be. He's very good about investing and keeping his eye on the prize. We aren't wasteful people. We usually pay off our credit cards each month. Our cars are paid for in full. We've never been sent to collections, and it's rare for us to see any late fees or penalties (except for the occasional late book fine levied by the local public library or the odd late fine for returning a DVD late) Essentially, we do our best to live within our means. No easy feat in today's consumerism-crazy culture. That's not to say we don't enjoy ourselves - we do. We just do it on the cheap or make it a special occasion vs. a daily indulgence. Eating out and going to movies are two big examples of things we don't do very often. We don't shop for clothes much, and when we do it's at places like Costco, Ross, Target, discount malls, or even 2nd hand places (for the kids, mostly). We brew coffee at home vs. hitting Starbucks. I shop at the "cheap" groceries where I have to bag my own to save a few extra dollars. We don't buy meat unless it's under $2/lb (chicken or ground beef), and then we buy a shitload and freeze it. We don't have cell phones (well, that's not entirely true anymore. Mr. Chick just got a cell phone thru work that has free nights and weekends, so we can use it then for personal calls) and we switched our home phone to Vonage to save on that bill, too. Stuff like that.

We've had a couple of splurges in recent months - the hottub is the biggie, and last weekend we got a new TV. We'd been using the same, small (19") tv of indeterminate age that Mr. Chick inherited pre-marriage. There is no remote (the horror!) and it's so old you can't connect a DVD player to it directly. I guess I should just be happy it was a color tv and not b&w. We only have 1 television in the house, a personal preference. Anyway, we had some coupons/gift cards to Circuit City that were going to expire soon and so we took the plunge and bought a new 27" tv. Which is still on the small side when you compare it to the huge tv's you can get now. But to us, this tv is giant! And it's HD-ready, not that we're willing to pay a bigger cable bill to jump to the HD programming, but it's there for when we do.

Anyway, the days of splurging are rapidly coming to an end. With the purchase of this new home, we need to revert back to living like law students again. Which really wasn't that bad, all things considered. It feels good to not stress about making bill payments. About not having to juggle or only able to make minimum payments. I'm ok with money, but Mr. Chick is better. It's much nicer to control your money vs. having your money control you. But I digress.... I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I will not be able to buy one single new thing for this house when we move. Not one. "Not even a sponge, MP", said my frugal spouse.

And so it begins. I'm now a pauper living in a castle. I'm just hoping that this self-imposed House Diet only lasts a year or so, not that it's a bad idea, mind you, until Mr. Chick gets his first raise or something. Because I have a lot of plans for decorating that house! I'm no Nate Birkus, but I have some ideas of my own.

And I can't wait to make that house truly my dream home.

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