About a month ago, on a blog I no longer remember the name of so I can’t credit it, I was reading about a woman who, essentially stopped spending money. On non-essential things. I think she was doing it for a year or something. Kind of like that A Year Without Made in China book. Except instead of not buying things that are made in China, this woman is just not buying things period.
Anyway, copycat that I am, I started thinking about it. Of late it’s really hitting home that I spend a lot of money. I have a guaranteed job until next April, and while I’m pretty sure I’ll still be at my place of employment as of May 1, 2010, I’m not sure I want to be. Oh, I like the money and the work is easy but I’m starting to get restless for lots of reasons that may be a post for another day. And even if I do stay here, I want to work less. Fewer days in the office = smaller pay cheque.
I spend money. A lot of money. Some of it is essential…groceries, mortgage and the like. Some of it is theoretically not essential (car, cell phone, internet) but would be hard to live without. And some of it is just stupid….and sadly yarn and fabric fall into that category often. Ten balls of Cascade 220 in ballerina pink anyone? And a by-product of spending money like a drunken sailor is racking up debt. Add home renovations to the credit card debt and that debt gets big. And stressful. And more stress is something I don’t need in my life.
Last week it hit home just how much yarn I have when I had to empty the closet in my office where the yarn lives due to some renovation work we were having done. Conservatively I estimate I have tens of thousands of kilometres of yarn. Maybe closer to a hundred thousand. Really. I’m kind of embarrassed about it to be honest. If I had the inclination I could figure it out but let’s just agree that I have enough to warrant not shopping for yarn for the next several years.
Now don’t get me wrong. I like to shop. I like to shop for shoes, for yarn, for fabric, for housewares, for books, for lots of stuff really. But since we’ve been moving stuff around in the Money Pit during the most recent phase of our renovation, I have come to realize just how much stuff I have. I probably don’t need half of it. And the stress over the debt is killing me. Plus DH is so anti-debt that if he knew the exact amount he probably would kill me. Well, no he wouldn’t since he’d be responsible for it, but Iknow he’d be disappointed. And I can’t deal with him being disappointed in me.
So. As a test of my will power and to try and get our, oh who am I kidding? my possessions (and debt) under control, I’m going to try an experiment. At first it was just going to be for July but I am doing pretty well so I think I’ll keep it going until the end of August. I’m going to try and stop frivolous spending. Stop laughing.
Here are the parameters. Essential spending includes groceries, car, gas, cell phone, mortgage and internet payments and clothing/shoe replacement. And by replacement I mean clothing/shoes develop holes or other things I can’t fix. Non-essential-but-still-have-to-do-it spending includes birthday presents for July and August, an annual membership to the community center pool/gym, reno-based spending and weekly entertainment. And by weekly I mean one night/day a week out. I’m not sure where dinners out with the DH will fit but we’ve cut down on those for the most part so it’s not an issue thus far.
So far though I’ve done well. Golden Child #1 has a birthday coming up and I’ve spent a whopping $12 on her (I’m making her a skirt) and I’ll get her some books she wants and knit her a sweater (to match the skirt I am soooo smart!) using yarn I already have. I figure I’ll spend $50 on her tops. Which is fine. Usually it’s double that. Next month is Golden Child #2’s birthday. She gets the same skirt and sweater (different colour though) and maybe something extra if I can get my act together.
And you know, now that I think about it, I have the yarn for all my Christmas projects too. I really don’t need to buy anything. Of course knitting everything on time will be the trick but it’s only July so I’m not going to think about that right now. I have LOADS of time until December.
Granted I did fall off the wagon this weekend when I visited The Purple Sock in Coldwater which was wonderful. But I didn’t do that much damage. What’s two skeins of alpaca really? Maybe this will July’s “indulgence” purchase.
Anyway, so far I’m not finding it that tough. Maybe I’m being mature (ummm doubtful) about my spending, maybe I’m scared of having a huge debt (bingo!) but I am being more thoughtful with my purchases and really thinking about why I want/need it, where it’s going to go and how much use I will get out of it. Also, I’m starting to think about alternate uses for things (ie using the plastic planters the shrubs came in vs buying pottery planters to put the smaller plants in….not as pretty but they do the job for now) and the possiblilty that spending a little more on some things so they don’t wear out quickly and/or can be reused often.
Now I’m not going to keep up this frugal lifestyle for ever. I am smart enough to know that some spending keeps the economy going and a full on halt in spending leads to binges and buyer’s remorse. At least with me it does. I figure I’ll slowly release the breaks on my spending in September. I want to continue to think about why I buy what I buy though and there’s nothing wrong with waiting a few days (or more) before making a purchase. Afterall, impulse buying is the reason I have a pair of bright purple pants in my closet (among other atrocious items of clothing) and that just isn’t necessary. Designer or not I don’t need to look like a giant grape.