Monday, November 14, 2005

Month Eleven: Cheater, Cheater, Chocolate Eater

I may as well begin by telling you that I got all emotional one evening and impulsively bought fifteen dollars and thirty-seven cents' worth of imported chocolate and French sparkling pink lemonade at World Market.

I may as well also tell you that it was completely worth it because I felt so much better once I'd consumed most of my stash.

The Experiment: It's just a sham.

Okay, not really. But kind of. For some reason, this month was more difficult than the others. I thought it would get easier as I progressed through the year, but this month felt much harder. I cheated with the chocolate, and that was a definite cheat, but there were some other situations in which the lines were a little blurred.

In case you haven't heard, I'm going through the process of finding a nanny job in or around New York City. Because I have chosen to stay with Jack and Mary Liz through the end of May, I won't begin interviewing until April. This is great in the sense that it gives me a lot more time to pack up my stuff, spend time with Kansas City friends, and figure out where everything and everybody (in the case of the cats) goes before I leave. It is unfortunate in the sense that a review of my spring and summer wardrobe revealed that I had (note the past tense--oooh, foreshadowing) pretty much jack squat nothing in the way of decent spring and summer clothes. The family I'm with is pretty laid back about what I wear to work, and I've known them long enough that I no longer need to make a good impression appearance-wise. So I'd let my spring and summer wardrobe dwindle, which was no big deal until I decided to try for a job that may require a bit more sophistication, at least at the outset.

So here was my dilemma: I was still in the middle of my experiment, yet the clearance racks were bursting with bargain basement cheap spring and summmer clothes that were also quite cute and professional for a nanny hoping to score her dream job in a new city. I realized that I could either shop right away and save a bundle, though I'd be violating the rules of my experiment, or I could stick it out until December 11 and risk having to buy most things at full price in the spring. I chose to shop immediately. This experiment is as much about learning to be wise with my finances as it is about learning to be happy with what I've got, and so I chose to be wise and save as much money as possible. In the end I came home with (or had shipped to my home) ten shirts, three skirts, three pairs of pants, and two pairs of capris, all for just $170.75 plus tax. The full price total of those items would have been $588. In order to honor the experiment as much as possible, I packed the new stuff away in a suitcase, and it won't be opened until I begin interviewing in the spring. Sound fair? I hope so, because I'm not taking it all back now.

And now there's just one more month of the experiment. I'm going to try very hard not to cheat at all this month, to really do the experiment justice before it's over. When it is actually over, I hope to continue to conduct my life in much the same way, being happy with what I have unless I truly need something new, and eating at home much more than I eat out. I plan to continue eating what I have before I buy more so that nothing will go to waste, though I will allow myself to eat out every now and again with friends. (I say "with friends" because when I'm alone I just eat chocolate chips anyway, and there's no reason to go out for those. I can just open up a fresh bag at home.)

This experiment has been interesting and challenging and in many ways a lot of fun as well. It is rewarding knowing that I can be just as happy eating at home as eating out, that I am inventive enough to come up with new ways to wear the same old clothes and feel just as cute and pretty as I do in something brand new. I look forward to having a little more freedom to do as I wish, but I hope that what this experiment has taught me above all else is to be more responsible with my freedoms, whether they are in the financial realm or elsewhere.

Onward to Month Twelve. I think I'm going to make it...

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

New York sucks! I don't get the draw. Sure, there is all the shows and restaurants. But, it's so expensive that you're not going to be able to afford go to any of them. Pray tell, what is the draw?

marymuses said...

Unlike most folks who move to New York, I won't be paying my own rent. As part of my pay I'll be given a place to live, plus I'll be making a lot more than I do now. Meals are also provided by the family, as is a car. So for me, as a nanny, cost of living is not an issue.

marymuses said...

Nice that I didn't really finish responding to that comment. Okay, so, Anonymous, the point is that because I won't be paying my own sky high rent or other expenses, and will, in fact, be making more than I do now, I *will* be able to afford to go to the shows and restaurants if I so choose. New York is also culturally quite diverse and has a ton of other things to do besides just shows and restaurants. So it's appealing on many levels for me. The thought of the museums alone make me shudder with delight...

cara said...

everyone is entitled to their opinion and i am of the opinion that anonymous posters are cowards.

also, mary, you go girl! new york sounds like it has much to offer you. and if in the end you decide it's not for you...guess what? you can move somewhere else. i think it's super cool and i look forward to reading of your fabulous new yorker adventures.

Shepcat said...

In defense of New York, according to your finer composers and tunesmiths:

a. It's a helluva town.
b. It never sleeps.
c. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

And, according to David Letterman, it's the only city that makes its own gravy when it rains.

marymuses said...

I agree with your opinion about anonymous posters Cara; it's kind of annoying not to at least have a name to go on, even if it is made up. (Yes, that's right, anonymous posters, you can MAKE UP A NAME and I'll never know you did it. You can be just like that one girl in those Las Vegas commercials that I find to be so annoying.) I'm excited about sharing my New Yorker adventures. I guess people don't have to read about it if they disapprove.

Shepcat, I didn't know that New York City makes its own gravy when it rains. That's so exciting! I LOVE gravy! Just one more reason to give it a go...

Shiz said...

Month 12 of the expirement, coming up! You're in the home stretch. WAY TO GO!

Anonymous, you are made of poo.