Thursday, February 27, 2014

Doing Without and Making Do

This picture is not a mistake. You'll understand in a moment.
When I decided to quit my job last fall, it was with full knowledge that our household income would be seriously tightened, especially given that I have no pension. Steve and I tossed spreadsheets back and forth, trying to remember every possible expense we incur on a regular basis, so we wouldn't have surprises.

Surprisingly, the adjustment hasn't been as horrible as I'd expected.

When looking at the budget, we divided expenses according to non-negotiable and negotiable expenses. I saw the clothing budget chopped in half, then in quarter. If I continued highlighting my hair (which, honestly, I hadn't been able to afford in three months anyway), it would consume ALL of our clothing budget. I decided I'd rather have a good pair of new winter boots, thank you very much.

So I decided to let my hair go back to its natural "blah" brown. (I consider it part of my transition to being an old crone. I haven't given up wearing a bra yet, but you know it's coming eventually.) I've also -- gladly -- given up the bi-weekly manicures that I found quite irritating.

We've also cut way back on the eating out. Now that I'm home and have the energy, I enjoy preparing healthy meals that are at least as delicious as restaurant meals.

There will always be surprise expenses, however. One of those hit us in December 2013, when our oven did this:

That is the heating element from our oven. Something went wrong and the element short-circuited.

Here's a close-up:


We had the element replaced in January 2014, but, sadly, the new element didn't solve the problem. Evidently the short circuit had fried the electronics in the oven: it would no longer heat above 225 degrees. Replacing the electronics would cost us more than the 10-year-old appliance was worth. (I'm sure we've all heard that before!)

In the past, I would have gone out that night and bought a new range. It's something I've done before. This time, I paused and considered more options, like Kijiji. And then we started talking about our potential kitchen renovation.

Once Steve retires in July and we can do the labour ourselves, we're considering rearranging the elements in our kitchen, using (mostly) our existing cabinets. One of the reconfiguration options includes switching to a cooktop and wall oven, instead of a range. (Even then, we'll be looking to Kijiji.)

Basically, we decided that now was just not the right time for us to make this purchase. So we resolved that our dinners for the foreseeable future would depend on the stove top or crock pot. We've been eating a lot of delicious, tummy-warming soups, stews, chilis, and chowders.

And then I remembered this.

We have a counter-top convection oven that I had "won" in a silent auction more than a year ago. At the time I questioned my purchase. It was impulsive, but it was for a good cause, so I went with it.

We had really only used it as a toaster oven for snacks and sandwiches. But on a whim, I stuck my favourite skillet inside, and look!

The bananas are to show you that there's actually quite a bit of room.
I did not bake the bananas.
It fit! The meal at the top of this post was baked in this oven. (The broccoli was steamed separately.) It's actually big enough to roast a whole chicken.

So the drive to get a new oven is really moving quite far down the list. We can't cook a full turkey dinner, but how often does that happen?

My point is, of the financial challenges we've encountered so far, all of them have been easily addressed with a bit of sober second thought. Do we need it? Really? What would happen if we did without?

I haven't been this conscientious about my spending since I started earning my own income, but I'm kind of enjoying it. And it's not like we're undergoing any hardship. It's an adjustment, that's all.

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