Now that I'm sticking to the envelope system of budgeting, I have a much better awareness of where each dollar goes and what the various expenses in my life really are. One of the insurmountagle expenses is food. "Blasted stomach," as Odysseus said, despairing of the ongoing need to feed himself in his travels.
I have a weekly business appointment that requires a two-hour drive each way. I normally bring my lunch and gas up before I leave. This week, however, we had (yet another) blizzard, and in my rush to leave an hour earlier than normal in order to get there on time, I skipped packing a lunch. I was hungry on the way back and stopped in a turnpike rest stop for lunch. It killed me to spend $6.00 for a slice of pizza and bottle of milk. I had to get gas, too, and it was 20 cents more per gallon there. They've got a captive audience in those toll road rest stops, and they make the most of it.
I'm happy to say that $6.00 on lunch and about $2.00 more on gas isn't going to break the bank for me (I can remember times when it would have), and I paid for the gas out of the gas envelope and the food out of the general envelope. BUT, I know that the $2.00 extra out of the gas envelope means it might take an extra week to save up enough for a windshield wiper, and that $6.00 on rest stop lunch is $6.00 I could have put into savings. So, it was a good lesson about my continued committment to envelopes AND a lesson about planning and shopping decisions. Now that I (finally) realize that I don't have an infinite fund of money from which to draw, I am more aware of how each spending decision -- no matter how small -- impacts my total budget.