Spending what you don’t have…

I have a couple of people in my life I would like to run my hand across their face and slap some sense into them (I’m sure you do as well). But right now I mostly want to slap the people I know who are living above their means but then are complaining all the time that they don’t have the money to cover things…you know like rent.

Even though as a general rule I don’t like summer and hot weather, I really don’t want it right now. Know why? I don’t have any shorts that fit. All the ones from last summer are a size smaller. Didn’t know I would be back on prednisone this last year and those are the breaks. Go buy some right? Don’t have anything in the budget to do that. Then my friends pipe in with just get a couple cheap pairs at Old Navy. Um, what part of not in budget do you not get? Even if they are $15 a pop, and I buy two pair, that’s $30…that I don’t have.

Stop justify buying stuff because it was on sale. For the record last year’s swimsuit cost me $160. It’s a cute Besty Johnson number that just like the shorts doesn’t quite fit. So I had to buy a new one. I did for $29.00 at Costco. Someone I know though just bought an almost $100 swimsuit with the justification that it was marked down $60. Great…but you didn’t have the $100 to spend in the first place!!! You didn’t have money for rent this past month and had to borrow.

Start making your own coffee instead of going to the little coffee stand every day. Quit your gym if you aren’t under contract. Yes, I am sure there are classes you love there. But if you live in an apartment they most likely have a small gym. If you have cable they offer a TON of at home workouts. Buy work out DVDs. Go for a walk/run instead…street running burns far more calories than treadmill anyway. Maybe your gym is only $40 a month…that’s still $480 a year. It does add up, it all does.

I know someone who couldn’t pay their rent last month but ran in a 5/10K each weekend. Those are $30 a pop. And fine, it only adds up to $120…but when the utility bill comes and you are $120 short…guess what. You don’t need to run in a 5/10K to get exercise. Just go outside and run. Sure you don’t get the t-shirt to show people how cool you are but oh well.

Stop going on vacation. When I was a kid, we went on vacation a handful of times. Not every summer, we didn’t have the money. If you don’t have the money to go to Disneyland you don’t. If you have to tell the kids you don’t have the money and they look sad, then oh well. This is a real life lesson for them. Yes, they will be sad. And yes, you hate more than life itself to disappoint them. But not having a roof over your head or no insurance coverage when you and the kids get in a car accident will totally be justified if your kids got to see Mickey Mouse for two days right? Even if it’s just a few hundred dollars…it’s money that could be going to something real.

And last of course, eat more at home! Don’t know how to cook…learn! Don’t like to cook, learn to tolerate it. Make your own ice cream instead of going out for it. Make your own cupcakes instead of spending $4 on one, when you can make the whole batch for darn close to the same price as one! These here are lime cupcakes with a take on my strawberry buttercream. This time using blackberries. You are going to want to puree them and then run them through a sieve. If you don’t have one, they are actually handy to have (see example below). Plus you get a workout pushing the berry puree through it. Therefore burning all cupcake calories away.

I know being on a budget and actually sticking to it sucks ass. I know. I don’t get to go out with friends hardly ever. I eat out almost never. I didn’t get to walk in the 5k that my town had for breast cancer at the beginning of the month (which would have been in honor of my mom). I don’t get to play on my second hockey team or go to stick and puck in the mornings like I used to. These are all things I want and can’t get. Those are the breaks in life. Is it no fun? You bet, but neither is having debt collectors hound you.

Lime Cupcakes with Fresh Blackberry Buttercream Frosting

Lime Cupcakes

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
zest of one lime

Preheat oven to 350F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Measure out milk, lime juice, and lime zest.

Add flour mixture and milk alternatively, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Spoon batter into cupcake liners.
Bake for 20 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cupcake recipe from Cupcake Bakeshop
Fresh Blackberry Buttercream Frosting

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ½-3 cups (may need more or less) powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup pureed blackberries (run through sieve to get seeds out)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat butter and 1 cup powdered sugar on medium speed for 1 minute.

Add vanilla and blackberry puree and beat for 1 minute.

Adding 1 cup at a time, add the remaining powdered sugar. You may find that you need less than 3 cups or more than 3 cups depending on the consistency of the frosting you are going for.


  1. You are sooo right! Some people never learn this lesson, and it bugs me when they get out of their debts by declaring bankruptcy. If you don’t have the money, don’t buy it! And you don’t have the money if all your bills aren’t paid …

  2. Exactly.

  3. Try secondhand shoppes. My husband yo-yos up and down with his weight & we get most of his clothes at Goodwill.

    But yeah, people like that annoy the hell out of me. I’ve only been on one “vacation” in my life — a few years after we got married we drove down to Florida [from Indiana] to visit my in-laws — no amusement parks, no fancy hotels or restaurants. To pay for the trip we saved all of our change for an entire year [we use cash for everything] and used part of our tax refund. We definitely wouldn’t be able to afford anything like that now.

  4. Toooooootally agree. We drive an old car for a reason. Our kids get hand-me-downs and we shop at second hand stores, not particularly because we like it, we just have to. It doesn’t make sense to me when people who have more than enough income complain that they “have no money” when we’re struggling but somehow make ends meet anyways.
    That frosting looks amazing. Love the color. And I’m on a huge lime kick right now. Mmmm, I could go for a cupcake :D

  5. Very very good words Peabody. It took me a few years to learn that and struggled to get out of it but guess everyone needs to learn their limits. Hope things get easier for you. Sorry you couldn’t do the walk for your mom.

    Cupcakes look awesome :)

  6. I have to suggest Goodwill too. I was SO against it for the longest time. I have 3 kids though so I finally tried it the first Saturday of the month (when the entire store is half off)and let me tell you.. getting a brand name pair of jeans with the store tag still on them.. for $2 blew my mind.. I love being frugal. or cheap,whatever.

    Cupcakes looks amazing!

  7. Your recipes, while lovely, are never ever the reason you’re on my Google reader. I like your straightforward attitude, and each time you post, it’s like a little life lesson.

    Seriously. If you run out of funds for the next recipe, just post a picture of a jar of peanut butter and tell us another story.

  8. Mercedes says:

    I always buy my summer wardrobe for my daughter and myself at Goodwill. Since I only invest in my office wardrobe, I choose to shop at Goodwill for everything else. Frequently I find beautiful items at Goodwill that still have the original price tag from the retail store where the time was once sold. I have been known to purchase denim shorts, madras shorts, capris, tank tops, camisoles and summer blouses for a grand out-the-door total of $7.63. Yup that’s right. Cute stuff too.

  9. Great advice! May I add these?

    Grow a garden. Pick wild blackberries. Check out dvds and books from the local library.

    I can never understand how people around me can afford the things they do sometimes. But then, they have huge credit card debt, and I have none.

    Must try these cupcakes soon (with limes from my backyard tree).

  10. I agree, I don’t see why people buy things when they can’t afford it at all. But I guess people have to learn at some point.

    The color of the forsting looks interesting and mezmorizing, haha. It doesn’t really look like frosting; more like a really really thick smoothie plopped ontop of a cupcake :) (I don’t mean that in a negative way)

  11. Couldn’t agree with you more!

    I remember going out for drinks with a couple girlfriends. It was payday the next day and all they talked about was how they hoped their paychecks were direct deposited by midnight before the bartender ran their cards and how all they had left in their account was less than $20. It was ridiculous!

  12. You were one of the first entries to Cupcake Hero, when I started it. It was with a key lime pie cupcake. It had the cutest little photo attached. I still love lime cupcakes. Love them.

    And I hear you lady. Budgeting sucks. But, usually if you stick through the rough bits, it does get better. We are just finally on the other side after 2 really rough years. Hang in there. xo

  13. Oooo, those look SO delicious! I am on such a lime kick recently, I even started making limeade instead of lemonade. And yes, while there is a time to build good credit, for the most part it should be: if you can’t pay cash for it right now then you can’t afford it. Period. And credit cards should be paid in full every month anyway.

  14. Well said my friend.

  15. May I join all the others who are saying, “Well said!!”?

    Every time I hear someone with an iPhone complain about how poor they are I want to kick them in the shin.

  16. I love the message you have here. Of course everyone should live within their means, but they just keep hoping someone will bail them out. I have definitely been in situations where my budget was my gospel and that was that. Even now I still refuse to buy expensive clothes, handbags, or shoes because they really aren’t me anyway and I just don’t see the value. I wish all politicians would live within a budget too. They need to learn that when you don’t have the money for something you don’t buy it, build it, or replace it.

    I would much rather make a batch of your cupcakes than go an buy one in those fancy cupcake stores. Nothing beats homemade, and even if it is homemade with a box mix you have made so many more than you could buy for the same price.

  17. OMG – I LOVE this post. We have friends who are constantly complaining about money but who spend out the wahzoo. I’m tempted to send this to them!

  18. There is a serious calculating error there… a $100 swimsuit marked down $60 leaves you an extra 60$ to spend,right? Wrong! LOL
    Seriously there are people out there thinking that way.

    Might I add it helps to look the other way? Don’t keep up with the Jones’s; just look at you, your family and your budget.

    Learn to sew is another cash generator, I can make myself a dress for $10…
    Love these cupcakes, right up my alley!

  19. With that kind of thinking, you wouldn’t get anywhere in government, Mrs. Peabody! Not even those in charge of the national budget understand that income needs to meet or exceed expenditure, and I have an insanely difficult time convincing anyone my age of the concept. When our words of wisdom would have the strongest impact, when they fail to pay their bills but those of us with forethought pay without breaking a sweat, we fail to speak for fear of hurting the relationship, regardless of how much we care.

    By the way, in case it’s not clear, I think you hit the proverbial nail on the head… once again!

    And, your cupcakes look scrumptious.

  20. I agree. A friend of mine borrowed a large sum of money (to pay bills) from another friend and continues to shop, go to concerts, and on vacation. It’s rude and irresponsible!

    But good news is, I love these cupcakes!

  21. I find myself lurking on your site even though I enjoy all of your posts. This motivated me to chime in with another “amen” to your message. And, as always, your cupcakes look like they rock!

  22. I like this very much! Stuff is just stuff! Meals shared around the table in your home are priceless. Clothes from Goodwill cover your backside the same as from any other place. Gardens teach you so much about patience and discipline. Simplicity in life really is a blessing. If you have money or not, slowing down and looking at things from a different perspective can really make you grow! Thanks for the yummy recipe as always too! I appreciate your candor!

  23. Julia M says:

    Great post. I wish I had learned this lesson earlier in life. After struggling for years to get out of debt, it’s not a place I ever want to be again. You get much greater piece of mind and sleep much better being out of debt than you do from any designer handbag or pair of jeans from Nordstroms. Love the cupcakes but was wondering what other frosting could you use for these besides blackberries?

  24. I have so many people that I would love to send this post too! You hit the nail on the head!

    The cupcakes, and frosting, sound scrumptious!

  25. My husband and I used to be friends with a couple that at the time he didn’t work and she had a job that didn’t pay very well and had no benefits. They were struggling to make ends meet and were borrowing money left and right to cover their bills. Then they go out and buy a $400 Wii. WTF? How in the heck do you justify that?

  26. Thanks for the recipe! I made these today using a fresh strawberry buttercream instead of blackberry because it’s what I had on hand. YUM! I was expecting a little more lime taste in the cupcake, but maybe I just didn’t have a very lime-y lime? But still a very, very good cupcake!

  27. Amen and I second that…stop your whining and prioritize! This is life and it is what it is. Thank you and well said!

  28. “Plus you get a workout pushing the berry puree through it” – I so love the way you think!

  29. Amen! I know one who gripes about nto being able to afford health insurance, yet has full-boat cable and deluxe cell phone, data plan and all. Drives me nuts!!

  30. Love reading your posts, not to mention your recipes.Raspberry is a good substitute for the frosting.

    I can only repeat the sentiments of those who have commented before me. However,I might be tempted to use a blunt instrument rather than my hand.

    We are currently living on one wage due to my illness, and although this is not always easy,we have no debt.

    Second hand is good, especially for books and clothes – you don’t loose your style and good taste buy shopping this way!

    Resturants are for very special occasions, but generally I cook better than the ones that we can afford anyway.

    Gifts of food that you have created out of friendship and affection are more valuable than an easy purchase from a store.

    I am now famous amongst friends and family for the jars of biscuits (your cookies) that I give as presents every Christmas. The one year that we had the money to buy presents, and did so, everyone complained.

    We spend time rather than money and end up giving a valued gift. And heaven help me if I try new recipes and someone doesn’t get their favourites!

  31. Great advice! It’s definitely refreshing when some of my friends say, no, I can’t buy that, because they can’t afford it. They actually budget and it makes me so proud of them! It’s really hard to be frugal sometimes, but it’s for the best. :)

    Fantastic cupcakes! I can’t wait to try making them.

  32. Sticking to a budget can suck at times but at least I am able to pay all my and even work on paying off my school loans!

  33. U totally rock! Yes budgeting is not always fun but is life and we have to be responsible. More so you rock because I just knew I was going to not save this recipe because it looked like some kind of weird marshmallow stuff but you surprised me and I love blackberries! So this is saved!

  34. I hear you. My husband won’t live in a budget and it has ruined our marriage. I tell our kids, “We have money enough for everything we *need*, but not for everything we “want*.” My husband gets mad at me for that and says I’m imparting a ‘poverty mentality’. I call it living within our means.
    I wish I could send you some shorts.

  35. Melissa says:

    It is great advice. And, even if you do have it, you never know when a rainy day might come, so save…

  36. yep, couldn’t agree more!! (about the money thing, and also about the lime cupcakes!)

    Right now I have in-laws asking to borrow money from us to pay their bills. They go to the movies at least once a week, they both buy coffee EVERY DAY, and went out to eat TWICE last week in one day. My Mother in law can’t say no to new cushions and other homewares. I don’t get to do ANY of that. We told them no to the loan. It’s hard to say no, but seriously, I feel like we are the parents here. We even bought them a mid-range espresso machine as a Christmas gift: they don’t use even it!! And it would save them $10 a day! That’s $3650 a YEAR. I don’t judge people who go out every day…IF they can afford it. Right now, they are still supporting 3 grown adult children (all older than 25!) who live at home, and don’t pay rent or food. It’s so stupid, I just can’t feel ok lending them money. Their son works full time, and still lives paycheck to paycheck, spending everything on drugs and alcohol. He also has asked us for a loan!!

    I don’t understand this mentality of “I deserve”. I don’t understand how people can become so in debt, yet still go buy things!

    And rainy days do happen. I had an accident, lost my job, and couldn’t work for 6 months. Thank goodness for that 12 grand I saved, since I used it all up when I needed to LIVE.

    I’ve found the more difficult times in my life have taught me the most, so hang in there :) I’ve been dying to join a team, but same here, can’t afford it. It really sucks; it makes me cry :( but inch by inch, I am making a come back :)

  37. ps. I love what Kitty said. I wish I had your guts. As you can see by my single letter “name” and no link to my blog, I DO NOT.

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