My birthday is next month and I’m giving myself a gift that keeps giving: a month of old school frugality. I’ve got savings enough to settle the only balance I carry, but I know me; paying it off as if there is no cushion is the best way to exercise wise money management. I need to walk this thing out incrementally and with intention rather than rescue myself in one swoop.
Saving a certain amount of cushion is part of the three-tiered goals I sketched out last August. I’ve accomplished that savings goal already. What I’ve also done is gotten comfortable spending money a bit more freely than is in-line with my long-term financial strategy (which is nothing fancy, yet.) I’ve slipped a tad from long-term vision to short-term “woohoo, yellow Egyptian cotton percale sheets!” and replaced wiser habits with some on-the-spot celebratory purchasing.
Financial short games are rarely good ideas.
I have hopes of owning a home again – a bungalow or something with character and a front porch. Perhaps a mixed flower-herb-tomato garden to the side and a bit of Zen garden in the back; room for the marauding hordes to return to the nest together. Travel is calling and the Sweet Vibe is not going to run forever. I’d also like to introduce the kids to Ulm, Munich, Berchesgarten, and ski slopes again (and again and again…)
Since changing jobs in mid-February and improving my income, I’ve updated my professional wardrobe, invested in some Happy Camper Merlot, and celebrated people (my favorite!) Now I can celebrate my long-term financial goals and swing back toward financial wisdom. If it were easy, I guess we’d all be saving/investing wisely and completely debt-free. This girl can not only dream it, but will make it happen.
Here’s my old-school plan for a frugal month. I may need your patience as I:
- Remember Amazon is not a cure. Sure that kite is awesomesauce and I am stoked about it, but Amazon is still shopping – something not among my Top 100 Things to Do…not among my Top 1,000 Things to Do.
- Go do some of those Top 100 Things to Do. Consult the list early and often. Post the Top 100 somewhere on Google Drive and in the living room. Invite others along.
- Keep making grocery lists and bringing lunch. Make room for one lunch a week or a couple of cups of coffee or a beer after work with friends during the week. Choose wisely.
- Invite folks over. There is more bang for our buck when folks are gathered around the familiar table regardless of how little or much is spent. Some of my favorite wintertime 2017 memories are post-yoga kibbutzing on the porch with pals and a little cheap-&-easy Life Coach lager.
- Call a moratorium on book buying. Read through the ever-replenishing piles in the Hobbit House. Share the finished books in the Little Library by CapFed on Poyntz or at the lake. Then head to the public library. It is only two blocks away and sits on the way to M3’s house, a triple-bonus.
- Remember: reduce, reuse, recycle, rethink, and restore. Continue to reduce owned stuff requiring upkeep. Invest in headspace instead. Reuse; it’s often more fun than new and exercises that languishing creativity muscle. Recycle. Rethink why you are giving yourself a frugal month and how short term habits nudged out peace. Freedom is waiting. Restore what you can by continuing to compost, invest in others, and soak in the sweetness afforded by quiet (hello head- and heartspace).
- Be brave, Buttercup; it’s time to start cooking again. Even if it’s just for you. You are worth it.
- Take the kayak out more. Remember biking and walking everywhere? Time to revisit that good-hearted adventure even if it is walking and biking some places rather than all places. Get up and go.
- Look into another scooter. Is it a frugal investment? Do the gas savings offset the investment in the moped and flaming helmet, extra travel time, taxes, insurance, etc? Could be.
- Have fun. This is not punishment, but an adventure. Make your July plans for Colorado and Shambhala Mountain Center, but pay off the one lingering debt before the end of June. What about making the 4th of July the debt-free date? Nothing like Independence Day debt-free and hopefully in good company again!
Here is my pledge: I will not judge, nor harangue, nor be an immovable nudge about this. I’d like to keep nurturing my friends and relationships. I will be me: quirky, flexible, and determined. And slightly more frugal.
(Added Sunday: I’d also like to share what I have. If we are going to change the world, it’s on us to move from thought to action. This said, I commit to set aside some of what I earn to share with folks who need it. My friend, Steve, has plans to help people in Manhattan with real-world needs. No judgement. Just love and living it out. Needed resources include time and money to be administrated wisely by the local emergency shelter and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Got questions? Interested in jumping in? Comment below.)
I’m writing this May 20, 2017, though will likely post this Sunday, May 21, 2017. I’ve got a month and change until my birthday and a little over six weeks until Independence Day (or return-to-debt-free-day). Wish me luck!
“Sacrifice now; win later.”