An Honest Assessment


Which I knew I was going to balk at doing, but did anyway.

I did my spending plan for the month of November 2011 earlier today.  This meant that I sat down during nap time, screaming time (K’s still not napping, although again fell out on the couch as soon as I took her out of her sleep sack), and tallied up my numbers from October.

I spent over my budget on cabs and under on entertainment and books.  Sort of knew that was happening.  And I was pretty spot on with the rest.  That feels quite good.  In fact I was within fifteen dollars of my calculations.  I could have spent fifteen dollars more for the month.

I started tallying my numbers, basically keeping track of everything I spend, to the penny, about six years ago.  When I got into recovery I had shall we say, a wee bit of financial wreckage.

Sure, put that round on my card.  Yes, please, let’s get another gram of cocaine.  Or five.  I should really take my mom to London, she’s never been there.  Dear reader, a suggestion, never do an eight ball of cocaine and have a heart to heart with your mother from the front steps of the R Bar off of Polk and Bush while sucking down a Marlboro Light and figuring out whether or not you or your friend is going to sleep with the older sort of good-looking in a faded Mickey Rourke (bahahahaha I almost wrote Mickey Rooney) Bar Fly way.  Because the next thing you know when you get back to your home over on 22nd and Alabama and sneak in just before dawn so your room-mate doesn’t hear you, you may get on the internet and there may be a fantastic deal for a round trip ticket for two to London in your in box.

And you may think to yourself, “hey, mom’s got cancer, again, and screw going back to see her in Wisconsin, let’s fly her out and go to London”.

The next thing you know I’m in a cab headed to Hawthorne Lane (whose brilliant idea was it to put me on the opening lunch shift?) sleep deprived and still intoxicated and I suddenly have a moment of, did I do what I think I did last night when I came in.  It wasn’t sleep with the guy at the bar.




That and other slightly less or more, depending on the day of the week, stories to follow of how I blew to shit my credit card balances and ended up in a whole lotta debt when I first got some recovery time.

Can you say bill collector?

It was suggested to me that I read over this book, which I just loaned out to a friend (hey friend, I hope you’re reading!), How to Get Out of Debt, Stay out of Debt, and Live Prosperously, by Jerrold Mundis.  I read it and then I re-read it.  Then I balked.

Then I got some more calls from collection agencies.

Then one day I just did everything that I was told to do.

Six years later I have not incurred any debt.  I have lived on cash only.  I have not had one single credit card.  Although I get lots of offers for them, fuckers.

Then at the end of each month I sit down and I tally up what I spent on the month.  I tend to be a bit of a pinch penny with certain things, frugal, I suppose is a nicer way of putting it.

Scarcity thinking is more likely the truth.

When I first started doing the suggested work one of the categories that I did not have and would have not thought to budget for was clothes.  I had not bought myself new underwear or socks or bras in, well, an embarrassingly long time.  Now I have an allowance.  Right now, it’s not a whole lot.  Last month it was $100.  I spent $98.45.  Not bad!

I got some socks, a nice button down shirt, and 1 cotton t-shirt.  Things I needed.  I let myself have that category.

The other thing I do is I don’t eat out very much.  I buy most of my food.  Eating out is a treat and I allow it, but I don’t eat out but maybe once every other week.  I used to eat out a lot and then wonder where the fuck all my  money was.  Now I grocery shop and I only buy healthy, predominately organic, foods.  Fuck, even my eggs are from hens that eat vegetarian feed (as well they should be!  Do you know that Rainbow started posting a spread sheet of what happens at the egg farms they procure their eggs from.  Do you want to know if your laying hens have been de-beaked?  It will tell you.).

Anyway, I leaned.  I learned where I could trim money, really, I should know better, but last month I spent twice my alloted money on cabs.  This is a splurge that I need to drop.  Completely.  I could have gone out for two extra movies or bought a pair of jeans with that money.

But, I’m learning.

That person who made the original suggestion to me to (ah,  my cat’s grooming me, too sweet.  Who doesn’t like kitten kisses?) also suggested that as a living amends I not spend more than one-quarter of what I make on rent.


Do you know where I live?  I live in San Fran-fucking-cisco.

Are you smoking crack?

Maybe you should be.


I have had some success with this, but usually my rent falls somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of what I make.

This is no longer an option.  I cut down every where I could without feeling like I was depriving myself when I did my spending plan today.  I kept all my “luxury categories” entertainment, books, writing, clothes, and cafes.  Granted I winnowed them down a touch to adjust to the lowering of my income.  However, I did not delete them.

Then I looked at what I had projected for housing–$800.  And I looked at what I was going to be short on projected income versus what I had put into my plan.  I was short about $241.  I redistributed some things, knocked down my clothing a smidge, and the cafe and restaurants a tiny bit.  Then I heard her voice with that living amends thing she was talking about.

See, my bright idea toward the end of my using was that I just needed to move out of the rent controlled room I had in the Mission, $500 including all utilities, to a more expensive apartment situation, $1150 with no utilities, because then I would not spend all my extra money on cocaine.

Uh, yeah, that did not work, in case you were wondering.

I was resentful at myself for doing that.  Shocker.  So, it was suggested that I not pay more for rent then I could afford.  Hence the suggestion that only 1/4 of my income goes to rent.

I took a deep breath.  I crossed off $800.  I put down $600.  And I repeated to myself, you are being taken care of better than you can even imagine.  Just take the next action in front of you.

I believe, exuberantly, fervently, and with much love, that the perfect place is currently getting itself ready for me (and my cats!), and it will not be more than $600 a month.

Hell, it will probably be less.

My god rocks it out like that.

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