2017 has been a year for the Sheppard history books. It has been a roller-coaster of events and emotions that have often left my head spinning. As I look back at the lessons I have learned this year, a few have left a lasting impression, including:
1. Desert Gardening is Not for the Faint of Heart
A majority of our grocery budget goes to fresh produce. For years, I have wanted to tackle organic gardening and save myself a little money at the supermarket. Early this year, when most of the country was buried under snow and ice, we were sowing seeds in our new raised garden bed.
Watching them start to grow felt like Christmas!
Soon, some plants were thriving, and we were able to eat fresh herbs on a routine basis. Then, the weeds started to grow in the form of nutgrass that took over our entire yard, choking the good grass like a hungry monster. It quickly filled our garden, requiring near daily weeding to keep it at bay. Let’s just say that weeding the garden every other day was never going to happen, so it started to get out of hand.
Then, warm weather came, bringing birds to eat all the tomatoes. Some other critters dug into the melons. Bugs ruined the cauliflower and cabbage. The cucumbers and lettuce were bitter. Green onions, carrots, and basil defied the odds, however, and grew like gangbusters. In fact, we had so much basil we didn’t know what to do with it.
Overall, our gardening experience was a flop. It is going to require a whole lot more work and education to be successful, I’m afraid. Desert gardening is no joke, people. My hat is off to anybody who knows what they are doing. I am going back to the drawing board.
Plus, I don’t love gardening. There, I said it.
2. Paying With Cash Feels Like Getting a Raise
This year, we decided to amp up our budgeting by paying for everything with cash, Dave Ramsey style. That means I go to the bank twice a month and pull out enough money to cover our expenses and when it is gone, it is gone.
While I don’t love going to the bank and worrying about sorting cash into envelopes, it has done wonders for our budget. Before we started doing this, we consistently went over budget in many categories each month. Since we instituted the envelope system, we have stayed in budget almost every month. In fact, we usually have extra money. It’s like we got a raise! How is that even possible?
Well, I did stop going to Costco routinely because I have no self-control in that place. Also, it is much easier to see how much money I have to work with when it is in my hand and not the bank. Not only that, but it is infinitely more difficult to part with a couple of Ben Franklin’s than to swipe a card without really thinking.