Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Off Track

Okay, it's confession time...

As with many of my past New Year's resolutions, my attempts at change have lost steam over the past few weeks. I continued strong until about mid-February and then seem to have petered out.

While my awareness of not spending continues, I haven't been keeping track of it (in the calendar I designed at the beginning of the year). Also, in the essence of full disclosure, I have knowingly, consciously purchased items that, in my original post, I indicated I would not buy this year, namely two tote bags (one here and one here) and a candle. Hhhhmmmpphhh!

It seems this lifestyle change takes focus and energy - and lately both of those things have been occupied by other endeavors and life circumstances. Thus, the not-buying-it work has slid down on the totem pole of priorities.

However, I remain committed to this quest!

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Two good things of late:

1) My spending IS much more in line with my values. I continue to seek to purchase local and/or handmade goods as much as possible. I also focus my choices on things that are consumable and/or experiential (like a visit to this awesome museum); things that won't sit around and just collect dust.

When considering a purchase or a donation, I am asking myself, "Is this important to me? Is this worth the exchange of my hard work and life energy for this product?"

I have reduced the amount of catalogs I receive by participating in this great new web site. Also, I have requested to have my name removed from non-profit mailing lists for companies that are no longer in line with my values and vision for what I want the world to be.

2) I am happy to report that, other than our mortgage obligation (which happens to be at a great interest rate with less than 10 years to go), I am now DEBT FREE!

I have paid off my credit card balances! And I just opened a new savings account (my previous one was used up and closed when I was out of work last year). This is the one in which I plan to deposit the $600 rebate check I'll get from GWB in May.

So - all in all - my falling off the wagon so to speak hasn't been as dire as past failures at making lasting change (mainly diet and exercise!). It's just that, like anything else if life, it is a work in progress...with lots of learning along the way!

And your journey? How's it going? Please comment and let me know how you find yourself and your spending as we near the end of our first quarter together.


Jennifer/The Word Cellar said...

Oh to be debt free! Kudos to you! We've been working toward that for years. And if I hadn't quit my job two years ago to live the freewheelin' freelancin' life, we'd be much closer. But we're still trying. Onward, financial soldiers!

Oh, and should I feel just a little bit responsible for that candle purchase? :)

Amy said...

I can sympathize with falling off of the wagon! Isn't it amazing how just the simplest things can throw us off-track.

In my case, it was that my computer became disabled. DH and I were doing very well budgeting and tracking our spending closely each Sunday. I have an automated money management program that was my primary tool to do this and when my computer failed, our budget did too. I'm ashamed to state how much of a binge I managed to go on without even realizing it! Luckily, the computer is up and running again and I can get back to closely managing this.

Congrats on becoming debt-free. Now, the challenge is staying that way. We recently fell off the wagon with that, too, and before we new it we had big bills and nothing to show for it. My lesson learned is to limit things that charge directly to my credit cards on a recurring basis (in our case, it was huge heating oil purchases that were going there.)

Good luck staying on track!

Jena Strong said...

Did you see this article in today's NYT:


I still fritter WAY too much money away on muffins (I could make) and coffee (I do make, AND go out and buy).

Another site to check out - an annual event here in Burlington that I am a volunteer for:


It started in someone's living room and has eventually grown to include relationships with Isis & Eileen Fisher and to raise many thousands of dollars for a non-profit each year.

Sorry for the all-over-the-place comments, and thanks for the continued inspiration....

GailNHB said...

Me? I've bought make-up (that makes me look quite fine!), three really cool journals (that are now on top of the pile of journals I already had - yikes!), and a pack of pens (that I bought for Kristiana in Spain in December and envied ever since... I found them in Staples.). Oh yeah, and a few stickers from Hobby Lobby and some crystals for jewelry making from a bead shop. (I excused myself be saying that I would use them to make gifts for other people. I did make the gifts, but I already had lots of beads and crystals here at home.) And a few books too (One was Momma Zen - which has been a huge blessing already).

Okay, so I've given in on nearly everything I put on my original "Not Buying It" list. I will say this: I am doing much better over all in in that I am not buying those things without forethought. In every case, I thought about it, asked a lot of the questions you mentioned, and bought the things anyway.

I also recognize that the thrill of shopping and getting the stuff isn't what it used to be. I recognize that even as I bought tea at Teavana, I was not tempted to march in Macy's to see if there were any skirts on sale. Or get shoes at Aerosoles. I feel the urge to splurge, to "treat myself" for something I think I need to be rewarded for - I feel that urge less and less all the time. That feels really good. There is definitely progress. Slow and steady progress.

Funny thing about the candle you bought: I was at a friend's house yesterday, talking, laughing, and drinking earl gray tea. The whole time, there was a heavenly scent wafting past me. I looked around and there it was - an intoxicatingly scented candle. It wasn't even lit, but I could smell it. Yum! It was none other than THAT VERY ONE YOU BOUGHT FROM BATH AND BODY WORKS - Lavender Leaves. How funny is that???!!!

Westcoast Walker said...

Hi Lisa - Don't beat yourself up too much, you are making some big changes that in the context of our consumerist society are fairly radical. Change takes time, and it sounds like you are heading down the right path. The mere fact that you are even thinking about these issues puts you miles ahead of many people.

Just think, you are the Madison Avenue ad man's worst nightmare, daring not to consume relentlessly. Also, if it is any consolation you continue to inspire me, so consider it a job well done!

jmgb said...

Yeah! I rejoice with you, that is a success!

We are slowly but surely cutting down our debt and paid off a loan this month which felt great! Love that it frees more money to apply to more debt...thanks for posting on financial stewardship:)

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