Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Experiments in Consumerism

Oh, okay, here’s something to update, and you can all (All! Ha! Listen to me!) help keep me on track. February is going to be the Month of No Purchases. Actually, I started over the weekend, so it’s going to be a little over a month. But I’m beginning a strict curtailment of personal expenses. The catalogues are going straight in the recycling bin as soon as they hit the mailbox. The emails are being deleted as soon as they hit. I’m staying out of the stores, and I’m going to cut down on food and happy-hour expenditures. No new shoes, just because they’re such a good deal. No new music for a while, I’ve got so much on my iPod that I listen to so infrequently. No Starbucks – the firm provides passable coffee that I doctor up so much anyway. No quick runs to Chick-fil-A for lunch – I’m going to plan ahead instead. Leftover city, here I come.

It’s time that I recognized, officially, that I am a spendthrift. (“Hi, I’m Jenny M, and I like to shop.”) I can justify just about any purchase, and I need to stop it. I’ve actually been working on this for a while. I have nearly paid off my clothing store credit cards – I’m making the final payment to J. Crew this week. I’d already stopped going to Starbucks around Thanksgiving. But I took a look – a REAL look – at my bank account and was astonished at how much those “drink or two” evenings after work add up, and how quickly “a quick lunch” becomes money down the drain every day.

I’m not placing an absolute moratorium on spending. You’ve got to go to the grocery store, and you’ve got to buy birthday presents and I’m not going to kid myself and say that I’m not going to get a drink after work now and then. But it’s time to grow up and accept responsibility for my spending habits. A friend said this past weekend that she’d gone a month without buying anything for herself – anything “unnecessary,” that is. And it just struck me – that seems like it would be so easy, and I expect it’s really not. I’ve become accustomed to not having to think too hard about whether or not to buy a new shirt or a new pair of jeans or a new book, and I’ve lost touch with any sense of how quickly the money flows out: just as quickly as it flows in. That makes me feel vaguely panicky, although we are by no means struggling. When I look down the road, that’s not how I want to feel. So, I’m challenging myself to step back and get it under control.

This New Years’, I did something I’ve never done before: I opened a savings account. And it feels good.


Blogger Damsel said...

Good for you! We're in the same spot...

Linked to you from Mir

1:27 PM  

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