February 2018 Month in Review

[Image decription: A doggie laying on a couch. It me. Photo by Robert Larsson on Unsplash]

The giant event of February was my surgery and it impacted almost every discretionary budget category.

Medical/Personal Care: $127

You’d think this would be the category most affected by surgery, but this actually isn’t out of line for a normal month. There were a few odds and ends I needed for post-op care (Tylenol and bandages and whatnot), but nothing major. We had already bought what I needed around the house; already paid the out-of-pocket portion to the surgeon; and haven’t been billed for coinsurance yet.

Food: $956

Medium affected by surgery. Groceries was a bit higher than usual ($574), because I stocked up with a massive Peapod order before surgery. Despite being on medical leave for the last week of February, I managed to spend pretty much the same amount I usually do on work lunches & coffee in the first three weeks. Although I started making coffee for myself at home in the morning, I simply began having a second cup during the workday! I officially entered the world of 2-cups-a-day. Hopefully, my time off of work can break me of that; I’ve only have coffee 3 times in the last 10 days, so I’m working on that. The good news is that we did a good job of budgeting our dinners out early in the month, anticipating correctly that we’d need to order convenience delivery in the days immediately following surgery.

Household: $44

Not affected by surgery. All we bought was a yoga mat and 4 spoons.

Entertainment: $204

Somewhat affected by surgery. I stocked up on ebooks to read while recovering ($34), and I bought a month of Amazon Prime Video ($13). There were also things that were unrelated, like our normal Hulu and Netflix subscriptions ($23), accidentally auto-renewing my annual Runkeeper subscription ($40), and a bunch of Steam games on a sale for both my partner and I. (I guess marginally surgery related as I thought I might enjoy playing Project Highrise and Hatoful Boyfriend while recovering, but so far I have only played Stardew Valley… again.)

Clothing (me): $814

This is probably the category most affected by surgery, indirectly. I didn’t really buy any special post-surgical clothes (just one $15 pair of sweatpants which was actually purchased in January and which I later discovered the extremely high cashier forgot to ring up, so actually it was free). What I did do, was to displace all my stress and anxiety about the upcoming surgery into deciding that I needed summer clothes RIGHT NOW. Even though it was still February. And I was about to be laid up for several weeks. Packages began rolling in the day I came home from the hospital and I haven’t been able to try anything on yet because my arms don’t work. It’s not like I didn’t know this would happen!

Another irrational tidbit: deciding that I needed more outdoorsy things for an outdoors volunteer gig I’d applied for, but hadn’t gotten yet. (And I didn’t even end up getting it, because they needed someone who’d be free on weekdays.) I knew I’d have plenty of time to get things if and when I secured the gig, but I didn’t wait because, again, that was the convenient form my anxiety was taking. It was so much easier to worry about the details of an imagined future months after surgery when I’d be active and hiking and it would be summer, than the immediate, much less fun future staring me in the face: the hospital, anaesthesia, spending weeks on the couch unable to exercise.

Although I convinced myself it was rational timing in the moment (because of end-of-season clearance sales and stuff), I think this proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that online clothes shopping is largely stress management for me, rather than fulfilling an actual need for clothes.

The good news about this is that I can still return most of the stuff, since it’s just sitting unopened in my apartment now. Hopefully the return window is still open when I’m feeling up to the physical exertion of opening packages and filling out return slips.

I’m not returning the hiking boots that arrived the day before I went in for surgery, though. They’re mine and I like them and I’m going to wear them to climb a mountain, just as soon as I can summon the energy to stand.


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