i recently had a revelation. while dicking around on msn.com's financial page last wednesday, i uncovered a wicked little piece of journalism. an article on budgeting. an article that said a single person should spend $150 on groceries a month.
not over a 72-hour period. not a week. not a fortnight. ONE MONTH.
this blew my mind. it has continued to blow my mind as i've brought it up in conversations with practically everyone i've spoken to in the past 4 days. (days in which, according to this wicked piece of journalism, i am to have only spent $20 on groceries. in reality, i blew $31 at the marché on friday and am already in grievous need of milk.)
it's become a bit of an obsession. this idea that it is humanly possible to live (well and healthily) on $150 of food and drink and miscellaneous a month. i can understand $150 on clothes per month. or $150 on books and shoes and cds and loans and prescriptions. but $150 on groceries? this simply cannot be. there's no way. it's a lie.
apparently, it isn't entirely. eF swears up and down he can rock the $150 a month. but then, he doesn't drink three gallons of $3.69 milk a week or have a hungry ($35/month) and peeing ($21/month) vieve/pickle/barry or long, long hair that requires 1 ounce of $7.94/12 oz. conditioner a day. i'm a girl who requires all of these things.
i made the mistake of mentioning this to my mum in three successive conversations. my belief that it's impossible to live on $150 of groceries a month and my subsequent fear that perhaps my grocery expenditures are unreasonably bloated and my succeeding notion that maybe my salads should have less spinach or my bagels should go without cream cheese or i should make peace with my hair being a ratty, underconditioned mess.
as does any discussion of finance, this led us here, to this comment: but, carrie bear, i know you're living CLOSE TO THE EDGE...
as a rational person, i know what living CLOSE TO THE EDGE means to my parents. i know this simply means i have a paycheck under $45,000 a year and a savings account that has been sapped by living in the city. as an irrational person, i abhor this CLOSE TO THE EDGE comment because it leaves me suddenly feeling as though i'm falling further and further into a grand canyon of debt with each purchase of my 95¢ fruit on the bottom yogurt. (the extra, indulgent 11¢ be damned- i love the fruit on the bottom.)
i've thought about this a stupid lot the past few days and it all comes down to the city. it's hard to live in the city. because without a car a girl can only carry so much. (and the car's probably not too much to blame since croftie has a car and she's still in my boat.) so she goes to the store three times a week for milk and walks out with peaches and zucchinni and four varieties of oatmeal every time. there's no staying away or stocking up. the store is a toll-booth- it demands a $30 minimum entry fee.
i like to think the author of this wicked piece of grossly fictitous journalism was never a single person. that she was the daughter of a publishing mogul, got a $65,000 a year internship at his paper in NYC, rode to classes at columbia in chauffered cars, married some wealthy jerk straight out of college, gave birth to quintuplets and instantly racked up $1,875 a month in groceries.
i like to think she doesn't know shit about being a long-haired, cat-owning single girl and buying groceries in the city on an english major salary.
and i like to think we're not really all so CLOSE TO THE EDGE as it sometimes seems.