Updates on Feat #6: Not Spending

13 Feb

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

For the original Feat #6 blog entry, click here.

DAY 7 (Sunday):

I have to admit I haven’t been perfect in my Feat this week, but I did give it a really solid try, and learned a lot in the process.

The most shocking thing I’ve learned from this Feat has been pinpointing the feeling of an impulse buy – that almost obsessive feeling that you HAVE to have something.  I always heard that if you’re going to make a big purchase, you should sleep on it.  I think that could be said even for small purchases, too.

Friday I fought off the urge to buy a GORGEOUS Ikea lamp, and Saturday there was an infomercial for a shampoo (actually, a cleansing conditioning!) that almost broke me down.  But I resisted.  And really, once some time separated me from those items, I realized I could live without them.

And I’ve definitely learned which impulses purchases I cannot control.  I was able to put off the infomercial crap, and talk myself out of new clothes (my closet is jam-packed already), but food is my weakness.  I suppose that is a little different, since food is a necessity of life.  But I had plenty at home, and yet a few times I did end up going out to eat, which was NOT a necessity.

With the food, of course there’s the instant gratification you’re getting, when you’re really craving something decadent.  But mostly, what you’re buying is convenience.  I’m tired, I don’t want to cook, I don’t feel like dirtying up the kitchen, etc.

Today I found myself kicked out of my house (while hubby and kids were working on Valentine’s surprises).  The first thing that came to my mind was, “Where can I go shopping?”  But of course, I was trying to avoid that, so I had to be more creative.

I ended up going to a park near the neighborhood where I grew up, somewhere I hadn’t been in ages.  I sat under a tree and read a book in the shade and the cool breeze.  It was, without a doubt, the most tranquil afternoon I’ve had in recent memory.  This Feat was worth it, if for no other reason than that experience.  Money can’t buy that kind of peace.

DAY 4 (Thursday):

Well, yesterday was a no-brainer.  We were stuck at home because of the weather, so obviously, that was easy enough not to spend any money.

Today was a tough one.  I woke up to a fantastic Living Social offer for kids’ cooking lessons, which I dutifully passed.  I decided I probably cared about it more than my kids would.

But then…I forgot that Thursday is Whataburger day.  Every Thursday, when I drop my son off at school, I take my daughter to Whataburger.  She loves it.  She lives for it.  It’s the highlight of her week – I’m not kidding.  I didn’t have the heart to try and talk a 3-year-old out of something she loves so much, just because her mom is trying to make a point.  So we went to Whataburger and got biscuits, just like we do every week.

Then I had to get groceries – really had to, because we ran out of a few things.  Target was perhaps my biggest challenge so far.  So many things on sale!  I passed up cheap kids’ clothes, the cutest $6 black turtleneck I’ve ever seen, and a brand-new kind of ice cream bar made of cherry ice cream dipped in chocolate.  A special hell for me and my tight purse strings.

I hated it, but I stuck to my list.  I got to the point where I literally averted my eyes so I wouldn’t see anything tempting.

And you know how it made me feel?  Mostly crappy.  I didn’t feel as powerful as I’d hoped.  I thought I would feel triumphant, like I conquered something.  Instead, I keep thinking about all the stuff I missed out on, all the good sales that just slipped through my fingers.  And missing out on a bargain really irks me.

Maybe that’s part of the problem – I’m really not very frivolous anyway, so there’s not a whole lot for me to pare down.  (Well, to be fair, I do have about a thousand black shirts, so buying that turtleneck would probably have been considered a little unnecessary.)

But I do worry that the underlying feeling I have is not just that of wanting a good deal.  Maybe it’s just WANTING.  And my grandmother always used to say, “Waste not, want not.”  I never really understood it, but I think it means don’t be wasteful and don’t be greedy.  Chances are, even those fabulous things I could have acquired today would have been forgotten in just a few days anyway.

Tonight, we finally made our trip to the dollar store to buy my son his prizes, and then, I must confess, we went out to eat.  (My husband insisted that HE pay, not me – does that count??)  Sometimes money is just used to buy convenience, which I suppose is a luxury in itself.

Tomorrow my kids and I are going to finish our homemade Valentine’s cards.  They love the daily notes and prizes I’ve been leaving in their little plastic mailboxes (all stuff I had in the house prior to this week).  I think my husband is going to buy them each a couple things to create a Valentine’s basket, but I’m thinking more along the lines of an old-fashioned coupon book from me.  Corny, yes, but I think my kids will really like it.  A coupon for staying up 10 minutes late or getting an extra book before bed is sure to be a big hit – and not cost a dime!

DAY 2 (Tuesday):

Today was tough!

I had to drive out to Dallas to do an interview, dropping my kids off with my husband on the way there.  It was lunchtime, but I accidentally left my lunch at my husband’s office.  I was STARVING, and I drove past so many restaurants I thought I would scream.

And then something really upset me (do I say that all the time?!), and the urge to stop somewhere to buy lunch was almost too much to bear!  But I fought it.  I just couldn’t face the music if I failed on only the second day of this Feat.  So I stuffed down my cravings and ate a PB&J on my drive home.  It sucked, but at least I won the battle and didn’t spend a dime all day.

But my lunchtime escapades also made me realize that I must be an emotional eater.  Yikes!  Watch out – I think I might need a “Diet week” soon.  That one’s going to be ugly.

On a normal Valentine’s Day, I would have just purchased gifts for everyone in my house.  This week, since I have to be creative, I scoured all my February issues of parenting magazines for some fun ideas.  The new issue of Family Fun has some great stuff in it.  (I didn’t buy it, I already had a subscription – but to be really frugal, I could just go to the website instead!)

Lucky me, I found some really cute ideas that my kids are going to love!  I think this is going to be even more fun than past Valentine’s Days, simply due to me putting more brain power into it than just scanning my debit card.

Tomorrow I will be serving heart-shaped hot dogs for lunch and writing surprise love notes on the bathroom mirrors with window markers.  Two ridiculously simple things, but my kids are going to love them!  And then we’ll be making our own Valentine’s cards for our friends.  It’s going to be great – I’m excited!

DAY 1 (Monday):

Not surprisingly, today was really easy.  It’s a piece of cake for me to go a day without spending money.  Yesterday I shopped and went out to eat, so I got that out of my system for a while, I suppose.

But…I predict this Feat will start out easy, and then get progressively harder towards the end of the week.  (Unlike Feat #4, not checking email and facebook messages, which started out really difficult but got easier.)

I came across a blog today, http://artofnaturalliving.com/, where the author did this same kind of thing during the month of January.  Clearly, this is a popular idea.  Why is that?  Maybe more of us are feeling the pinch of the economic climate.  Maybe it’s a matter of being more eco-friendly.  Or maybe we’re just tired of all the “stuff”.

I like the idea of making do with what I have, of cutting back on waste and clutter.  And I am already quite thrifty, both out of necessity and principle.  I hardly ever buy books or even rent movies anymore – the library takes care of that for me.  I’ve switched to using cloth napkins and cleaning rags most of the time, eliminating the need for wasting all those paper towels.  When packing lunches, I avoid plastic bags and go for re-usable containers.

I think the toughest thing for me this week will be not going out to eat.  So who knows?  Maybe after a week of eating only at home, I’ll lose a few pounds.

Oh – but I forgot about something that I will HAVE to spend money on.  We have a system in our house called the “pom-pom pillars” (like Lori’s marble jars).  When one of our kids fills up their pillar, they can choose a special treat.  One of the choices is a trip to the dollar store to pick out a couple of prizes.  Today, my son filled his pillar and that’s what he chose.  Even in thrifty times, a promise is a promise.


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