Listening To: It's All About the Benjamins by Puff Daddy & The Family
Noting my bologna sandwich of today vs. my Ebert & Gerberts of other days, a coworker raises her eyebrows and asks me what's up. So I tell her. Commence round-table discussion about what having a budget in college used to be like, how sometimes having more money just means you spend more, and interest in if a person can actually manage to provide for their basic needs on ten pieces of dough.
At one point, one of the girls looks over at me and goes, "I think I would get so fat eating like that." I stopped mid-bite into my meager little sandwich and stared at her. "I mean," she continued, oblivious to my evil eyes, "Carbs are the cheapest thing out there. So's junk food. You hear all the time about people getting down on welfare moms for buying chips and stuff, but do they know how expensive fruit is?" Relieved that she was making a point about how expensive food is instead of criticizing the fact that I was stuffing my face with one small sandwich, I joined in and shared my supporting points. When I worked at the youth shelter in England, one of my job duties was to teach the residents how to buy groceries and cook healthily on a budget. What a joke. There's a reason why our poorest citizens are also usually McDonald's best customers: You can get a whole meal there for 4 bucks, vs. what it would take to buy one healthy meal at the grocery store (I don't have cold hard numbers on what that would cost you, but I'm pretty confident that it would definitely cost more than 4 dollars for something standardly healthy). I also told them about an interview Charlize Theron did with Oprah right after she made Monster: She was talking about the 30 pounds of weight she had gained for the role, and mentioned that, although she wasn't fat per say, Aileen had a lot of chubby, loose weight because her diet mainly consisted of things like doughnuts and gas-station cheeseburgers..."...because that was the only type of food she could afford...whatever was cheapest or maybe free."
God, please don't let me get fatter because my budget is slimmer and I can't afford fresh produce. Please let it all balance out. I can't stuff my face because I can't afford it, so please let that counteract the fact that my main nutritional intake for the next month will come from bologna sandwiches and ramen noodles. Also, let me have awesome friends who want to take me out for a healthy, square meal every once in a while because they love me and care about my fruit and vegetable intake.
Your Best Friend Amber
I digress...the one thing about the budget is that it's starting to help define what I consider important. Food? Not so important. I mean, I like food. There's food that I would even say that I love (but not to their face, because I would die of embarrassment if they didn't say it back), but it's at the bottom of the things that I want to spend money on. Food's food. That was the one thing I remember most from the days when I worked in a treatment center for juvenile delinquents...all my boys were sitting around, bitching about the meal that was served for dinner, and one of my kids was like, "Yo, food's food. This stuff is free, man. Ain't nothing wrong with it, and they ain't gonna serve us steak in here, so just eat it and shut up." And he would use that point for a lot of things, which always struck me as incredibly mature for someone his age. The guys would be bitching about the clothes that were distributed to them every few weeks or so (funny how they never seemed to bitch about the bad decisions they had made that contributed to landing them in juvie, however...), and this kid would just look at them and be all "Clothes is clothes. Ain't no girls in here. Ain't nobody you gotta impress. Better than walkin' around nekkid." I've been thinking about that a lot lately...that kind of logic and perspective.
Plus there's that girl thing, which I kind of hate but must cite for its truth...why would I want to spend money on something that I have to put so much effort into getting rid of? Great. Let me spend fifty dollars on groceries so I can spend another thirty dollars on a gym membership to work it off my ass.
Beer, now...that's a different story. Plus they say that a bottle of beer is the caloric equivalent of a pork chop, so maybe I can just subsidize my diet that way. Brilliant!
Final Countdown For Day 3 of Livin' the Dream: + .91 cents - $0 because I made a Smart Choice and went home instead of to happy hour like I wanted. Grand Total: .91 cents bonus = I Rule At This Budget Thing