September always brings new budgets in our house. Every year, at this time of year, at least one person in the household (and probably more) is retooling, rethinking and reassessing wants, needs and how far a dollar (or $20) can be stretched.
It's the time of year when school shopping has been my love-to-do/hate-to-do task (one I no longer face since everyone is out of high school and either done with college, or paying for their own stuff). Love the "organizational" shopping that notebooks, pens & pencils & markers, post-it notes, binders and those nifty zipper pockets for them, implies. Hate the list of "must-have-on-first-day-of-school" that the public school sent out every year (divided by grade level). Hate the fact that kids can be so cruel and if daughters and son came in less-than-stylish clothing they would be tortured, cut to the bone with a glance and a snicker.
For the last 20 years or so, I have had to postpone a birthday celebration for myself (d.o.b. 9/13) because school shopping would so blow the budget. We would finally recover in time to do the Christmas shopping sometime late-October or early-November. Not a bad thing, since I have way too much stuff anyway. But some years there wasn't even enough left to have a cake and ice cream.
Thinking about McCain's $5-million-dollar-is-rich jokey response to the discussion of class and wealth...
NY Times Op-Ed by economist Paul Krugman