Then atara had an opportunity to go back to school, so she quit her job and enrolled in a two-year course at a local technical college. This came right on the heels of us buying a car that matched the soap in terms of luxury and fanciness. We didn't just buy the car - we put no money down and financed it at 100% over three years because they offered a really good interest rate. Suddenly we went from (from our modest perspective) swimming in money to being deep in debt, single income, and saddled with school payments.
Back then, atara tracked our finances pretty closely, and as she tracked our income against our expenses, it looked grim. She was very concerned, but I assured her that in spite of the sea of red on our projected finances, we were still in pretty good shape. In truth, I was more than a little concerned as well, but I bottled it up and kept up a calm face because I didn't want the added stress to hurt her studies.
One thing that changed though was that we clamped down hard on our expenditures. We started eating a lot of inexpensive vegetarian meals (beans, lentils, rice and pasta). We started aggressively chasing bargains on the essentials like toilet paper, cashing out Canadian Tire money so that we could get it for "free" and the like. We stopped eating out except for one modest foray out every week, and something nicer for a special occasion.
And we stopped buying luxury, liquid hand soap. When we used the last of the foaming soap in the kitchen, I tried refilling the bottle with dish soap and water to see if that would work. It worked just fine. It was not the luxurious, moisturising handgasm that it had dispensed before, but it was a functional, foaming dispenser. I have been refilling it regularly ever since.
I was mulling on this while I refilled the dispenser the other day, because I realized that to me, the dispenser represented a paradigm shift in our lives. Even though atara graduated from her courses years ago, and has been working full time since then, we have not gone back to our earlier spending habits. We are actually in much better financial shape than we were before she originally quit her job to go back to school, but in a lot of respects we are still living as if we were on a single income.
We still only dine out once a week (well, twice if you count the weekends as we often dine out somewhere on the weekend as well). We still give ourselves an allowance each week for spending money and strive to stay within that. At least half of our meals are vegetarian. And we still refill our soap containers with diluted dish soap.
Speaking of dining out, we went to a ramen place for lunch/dinner this afternoon. The ramen was pretty good, but these battered mushrooms were delicious.
I think if anything, my ongoing "picture a day" project this year is making me a worse photographer. How else do you explain why I do things like this? "Hey, here's a colourful butterfly. I know - I'll be all artsy 'n shit convert it to black and white."