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I am back. Back buying, or at least shopping for house stuff. One cannot be too careful with the toilets and tubs budget given their importance in a modern American home.

When we decided to stop rebuilding our home that burned down I suddenly felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. I had no idea how much effort there was in the hunt for just the right stuff at prices that were excellent to “Golly, gee whiz, Beeve” level. I had matrices and I had emails that came multiple times a day alerting me to price changes and particular products. My spread sheets had spread sheets. The budget was absolute and the errors in using the money potentially disastrous. A tub without a toilet is rather a bit of a problem.

My hunting project for materials to rebuild our house that burned was well rewarded. According to my spread sheets I was buying at about 39 cents on the dollar. Still, it was fun seeing those email notifications come in and just hitting delete hundreds of times a week. After a while I just hit delete, delete, delete without thinking about the pleasure of it.

Summer is coming to a close and my halcyon days of not shopping for stuff have come to an end. We are back at the finer details of budgeting for the new, not replacement, house. One toilet is equivalent to a few hundred yards of cat 5 wiring or a tile floor in a small bathroom or a closet in a bedroom. The movers are coming to load the van Friday and I can only imagine the way they they shoehorn things into the van is not so very different from me trying to make sure we have the right number of potties, floors, doors, closets, shelves, electrical outlets and stairs. If you take this one out there so you can put that one in then the other fellow falls out of the truck and when you jump down to get it the first box flops of the place you just made for it as it seems to desire a the choice location next to the soaking tub.

While I have a lot of concern that I not forget eggs and bread and milk, there is the thrill of the hunt. Every time I find a really good buy on something that we really want there is a smile of satisfaction that alights on my face and stays there for the day. The fire makes us appreciate falling boxes. Even if the box falls off the truck we have something to put in the boxes so that makes it much easier to pick the box up and put it back on the truck.

Today we combed through our budget for 2013 trying to figure out what we had spent and what we had left to spend in 2013. We were trying to decide if we wanted to take on a small mortgage on the new house. We had hoped not to do it but as thisis our second start on a house with the same pot of money there is not as much in the pot as there was to begin with. Questions like that inevitability lead to the budget for next year and the next. Next year mortgage or not we found some red ink.  We spent the evening going line item by line item deciding what we could do without or do more efficiently or wanted enough that we would find a place in the budget for it.

We decided that cell phone bill was totally out of control and that we would have to do something about it, and fast. We never use even the minimum amount of resources we have to pay for so each month. When we get notifications on our data usage from our phone provider it says, “you have used .1437 of your 1 gigabyte limit. We have tried to get a smaller allotment of data so we could reduce the costs but we are at the lowest package plan and pay-as you-go is difficult for some of our family phone group. We seriously discussed going from smart phones back to dumb phones. We only got the smart ones because of the fire and the extra flexibility it gave us in looking after stuff and being in contact with each other. Neither of us particularly like our phones so I am thinking “dumb here we come.”

We have not had television this year. We were not big television watchers before the fire and when we moved into the temporary house it was too much trouble. We did have cable for a few months but when it quit working, we kept forgetting to call the cable company. When we called them to disconnect the cable they were kind enough to refund us for the 2 months that it had not worked. My spouse put the Golf channel on the table. I am not sure he should make it a budget sacrifice but it is one of those things that if you want one you have to get the dozen.  You have to get the 204 channel package to get the golf channel which brings along with it about 186 channels we don’t care about. We shall have to see how that unfolds. We won’t have to make a decision until the first of next year when the new house is finished. Another seemingly low-hanging fruit is hair cutting. I have cut my hair off and on for years and do a passing fair job. We decided I would take my new trusty $14.99 at Amazon.multi-size hair shears with their purple case and do the job. My spouse’s hair is very short on the sides and extremely short on the top. While it is not easy to cut a very short haircut well, his hair is well trained so I am hoping I can keep it in line.

After taxes and medical bills, food is one of our larger line items. I am going to grow a big garden. I wanted to do that, it is something I love to do. I will grow beans and potatoes and squash and peas and broccoli and cauliflower and tomatoes and with the hundreds of wild blueberry bushes on our new land we will feast in the summer. In the winter we will enjoy the fruits of our labor by the virtues of a freezer and sure-gel. We will eat a lot more fish. When we lived in Montana in the 1970s we had very little money and ate a lot of fish. My spouse is a serious fisher person. He is the type who will stand for hours in the water being consumed by mosquitoes in order to wait for that one trout who wants to meet his fly. A well meet interchange between man and fish only needs to last a few moments for a day of happiness. He is going to have a chance to be very happy for all of the rest of the summer and into the fall until fishing season closes. I will have to reacquaint myself with how to freeze fish.

But I am getting ahead of myself. We cannot freeze the fish because we don’t have a freezer which does not have an electrical outlet which does not have electricity which does not have a line brought up from the road to the house–oh, and there is no house.

So we are back to toilets and tubs and being careful and responsible with the budget. All of the fishing and gardening we can do will not make up for a big mistake buying toilets and tubs.

If we enact our new budget-savvy food procurement procedures we are going to be dirty and smelly from digging in the dirt and wrestling with fish. Those toilets and tubs are going to be even more important than we thought.

man with fishing pole posed against rocky mountains