Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Another Voice Weighs In

I recently found this book at the library. As I'm re-reading the Not Buying It book, I thought this one would be a perfect fit for my current project, too.

The author chronicles her journey of giving up one important thing - but only for a month at a time. I was skeptical at first, thinking, "That's too easy. She's not the real deal."

But, after reading the first couple of chapters, I must say that I was impressed with her writing and insights. Her experience is no less (or more) valid than Levine's - just different. And while I cannot relate directly to many of her usual indulgent spending patterns (alcohol, sample sales, expensive outfits), what she gains from her attempts at giving these things up still mirrors my quest to some extent.

One humorous chapter even has her giving up elevators for a month. Her office is on the 10th floor! Her tales of how her coworkers react are funny and revealing.

So, if you're interested in gaining wisdom and companionship from someone who wrote, "Each monthly choice has a personal and significant "ouch" factor for me, a profound feeling of discomfort that accompanied the mere suggestion of living an entire month without chocolate, elevators, or television. My selections were designed to push me out of my traditional comfort zone, where a change in habits would force uneasiness, questions, and finally scrutiny. My insatiable desire for "stuff" was stimulated by a consumerist society that encourages purchasing faster, newer, and better products." (pgs. 3-4)...then by all means, read her book and let me know what you glean.

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Now, for a personal update:

January came in with moderate success. I spent about $100 more than I earned, but that was mostly due to my starting a new job and adjusting my hours for the holidays. For the month, I had 8 days where I didn't buy anything.

And I've done fairly well this past week with not spending. In fact, I've had 7 days so far in February where I haven't purchased anything! I'm getting more focused on where my money goes; tracking each day's expenses on a calendar.

I'm more motivated than ever to save money for things I *really* want to do, so I'm weighing each purchase in light of those. I'm also looking at what I can do and/or sell to make a few extra bucks. This takes creativity, but it's a fun challenge.

I've slipped up a couple of times and justified some of what I call "creative financing". You see, not only do I have my personal checking account, but I also have a business account and a joint account that we use for household expenses. A few things that were wants -(treats, books, an online seminar, a nice dinner out) but technically not needs - found their way into my possession via those other accounts. Yikes!

Yes, I still have some wiggle room in my spending. But I'm trying hard not to go outside the boundaries I've established for this project. I'll need some more will power and self-discipline, I can tell. :-0

I'm curious, on what things do you splurge or go outside your budget to acquire? What do the voices in your head say when you're taking that item up to the counter? Then do you have regret? Or not? What motivates you to stay on track with your spending?

Please let me take a moment to thank you for joining me on this journey. Your comments and confessions help me along the path and reinforce the mission to Not Buy It.

Also, much gratitude goes to those of you who are spreading the Don't Buy It - Rebate Bribe message! As Bob Dylan so poignantly sang, "The times they are a changin'". And as Barack Obama has declared, "Yes We Can!".


Amy said...

I love those times when I realize I haven't spent one cent in days or weeks, other than the usual utilities. I feel empowered! Have you read any of Dave Ramsey's books? I like his philosophies on money management.

GailNHB said...

I have tried to be more careful about spending, although I haven't kept a spending diary. I am keenly aware of how often I used to go shopping out of boredom or as a way to "treat" myself after doing something good or thoughtful or when I got angry at someone else. Now I am learning, rather reminding myself, that my worth and emotions are ultimately not tied to what I own.

As for things I splurge on, I tend towards creams and lotions and soaps and candles. Oh yeah, I love candy too! I feel guilty when I realize that I've got all of the above at home already. And I am getting better at going and putting the items back on the shelf. It feels good.

I hope to grow increasingly aware of those choices and decisions.

Shalet said...

Coffee, food, books. All guilty pleasures. We get better every day - make our own coffee, cook at home, buy only used books and sell those we won't read again. But it is a daily challenge for sure. Best of luck to you!

Amy said...

I have been reading Sarah Ban Breathnach's "Simple Abundance" this year, and wanted to share her entry for February 10th with you:

"When I was beginning the Simple Abundance path and began to wean myself away from worldly distractions for several months by choosing not to read magazines and newspapers, not to watch the news, and especially not to go shopping (except for groceries and essential kid's clothing), the symptoms that I experienced were similar to withdrawl pains. At times, I actually felt achy, shaky, and even dizzy. When this occurred, my authentic self would reassure my conscious self (who didn't think much of the new program) that I was undergoing a deep inner shift in reality. I was learning to differentiate between my needs and my wants and this powerful lesson had to be mastered before I could move forward. I had to learn what I could live without. Whatever I needed I could budget for -- in other words, I could have -- but self-knowledge had to come first.

"When you learn what you can live without, you are able to ask life for the very best because you possess the gift of discernment. You develop patience that enables you to wait gracefully and gratefully until the best arrives because you know it will."

I thought this might inspire when times get rough in your journey.

Still learning too,

Ella said...

I suppose we do the best we can with what we have to work with. Much like the game, "Mother May I," to my dismay at times. One step forward two steps back at times. But I keep trying as we all do. Plus the holidays are hard for us all.

I'm learning a new way to "spend". Amy can tell you I was the probably the most "shopaholic" friend she'd ever met at one time. But wisely she has given me very sound advice and I'm taking my ques from her.

She wears many hats and I wish she'd write a book. She's like a wisdom stone. She could write a book about many things as she is a gifted and talented writer, mother and friend... the list goes on.

To buy or not to buy. It's difficult to say the least. Once I use to shop at Pentagon City Mall during lunch breaks almost everyday while having lunch at Nordstroms. Not far from DC in Crystal City.

No thought whatsoever to buying $300.00 suites to wear at a pop to work and work related functions. "Show me the money" is a way of life there. I still have them hanging in my closet.

That was then and this now. I now shop at outlets. No pride left anymore in that department (no pun intended). I'm find things anywhere and everywhere now(discounted).

Oh dare I tell the tale of the Neiman Marcus plates gone wrong(on sale I ordered them)this year on-line. Then after I bought them I started finding them here, there and everywhere. Scattered about from at TJ Max and too many other places to mention. Found that they repackage stuff and won't tell you who the vendors are.

It was an wedding anniversary gift of new clear antique clear glass plates. No more porcelain as they eventually crack. The old ones to replace would cost more then new plates so I still got a deal, but disappointed in the retail game you have to learn to play to shop wisely.

Learning, yes I'm learning and still shopping. I have my setbacks, the only thing I wouldn't compromise on is organic foods.



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