Monday, December 12, 2005

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

I meant to write about this yesterday, but the day got away from me. So here we go, one day late: It's over. Yesterday marked one year on my experiment, thus bringing to a close something that's been, and that I hope will continue to be, good for me. This year of, for the most part, not buying food if I have some at home already, not eating out, and foregoing new clothes has been quite an adventure. I've never eaten so many beans in my life. My level of window shopping has decreased dramatically. And best of all, I spent a lot less money this year on clothing and food. While I am not completely financially free yet, I've made a bigger dent than I would have otherwise, and for that I am so grateful. Now that it's all over, I think the question is: Where do I go from here? Surprisingly enough, I have an answer.

What this experiment taught me first and foremost was how better to distinguish need from want, to be happy with what I have, to distinguish between true value and cheap stuff I'll never really use. It has also taught me to appreciate the privilege of being prosperous enough to get what I need (or even just want) whenever I need (or want) it. We live so richly--having whatever food we want at any time, being able to choose from an endless array of items to consume.

What I hope to take away from this, or rather, what I hope to practice as a result of what I learned, is financial judiciousness. I want to continue to recognize what is need and what is want and to make my decisions regarding filling my needs with thought and care. I will continue to eat what I have at home before I buy more food, to eat out rarely, to purchase clothing for specific purposes as opposed to purchasing it only because it's on sale or because it's pretty. I suppose it comes down to this: I will treat myself occasionally, but for the most part I want to make mostly need-based purchases.

I went to The Gap today to pick up a few things that will benefit my wardrobe. I have to admit, it was really fun. The colors! The styles! The many things I tried on that I realized were too frivolous! I left feeling good about my choices; my wallet was a little lighter, but the lightness was from money well spent. I hope I feel that way about all my purchases in the future.


Shepcat said...

Congratulations, Mary. I don't even observe Lent (except as 40 days of post-Mardi Gras fallout), so the fact of your committing to your experiment for an entire year is truly impressive and admirable.

I think it's brilliant, though, that when I opened your post just now, a big, colorful banner ad for appeared at the top of the page, as if to say, "Resistance is futile."

Cristin said...

congratulations. Time well spent, huh?

marymuses said...

Thank you, Shepcat. I think the Shopzilla ad may have been appropriate, for I have felt like a shopzilla these past few days as I've picked up the things that I need. It's bewildering how much I've had to spend just replacing basic items.

Yes, Cristin, it was time well spent.

Shiz said...

OK, I am so doing that, starting with food. Ya gotta tell me your experiment food guidelines, Mary. I have such a sad wardrobe now that I think I need to regruop and *make* myself get what I need, THEN, consider what to do as far as the experiment goes.