Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cents and Sensibility countdown: Unleashing the perfect storm.

One week from today, we start the Cents and Sensibility project. And it couldn't have come at a better time.

Like this year's tornado season has been to those who follow the twists of the weather, May has been the most expensive month in my recent memory.

I could list the events that sucked my wallet dry in May, but that's really not necessary (although if you want a list, please let me know. I enjoy making lists.).

The important, most redemptive thing about May is that May is almost over. The financial tsunami that's defined this month is definitely headed for calmer waters on June 1.

Because a week from today, after we buy a few essentials, fill up the car with gas and pocket a bit of walking-around cash, we're going to see how long we can go without spending anything.

Flipping the calendar from May to June is one of many perfectly timed elements that may make the Cents and Sensibility project a success.

And our circumstances starting June 1 will barely resemble those of May. The rising of the tide when I put all the pieces together make for a perfect storm of potential when it comes to Cents and Sensibility.

Here's my reasoning:

School's out for summer. The slow trickle of money that's been funneled into school-related items and events has dried up for a few months.

The weather's nice. Instead of driving, we'll find kinetic alternatives. It will be interesting to see how far we can go on one tank of gas.

The garden is planted. Volunteer lettuce and arugula are thriving. We'll be able to create fabulous salads soon, simply by walking over to the garden and doing a bit of plucking.

I like to entertain. And who says having people over for dinner has to be expensive? We have company for dinner at least three times a week, and these gatherings are usually thrown together at a moment's notice. Dinner and conversation with friends makes my world turn so much more colorfully.

My son is a great cook. Let's be clear. I'm not a great cook. Cooking is a chore to me.

Thankfully, my 15-year-old son Logan's culinary sensibility has become legendary in my circle. His complex and creative dishes have completely changed my point of view when it comes to how food should taste.

I made dinner the other night, and opted for making pasta with sauce and Italian sausage, with a salad on the side. That used to be standard fare. It completely sucked. The jar of sauce was flavorless. The entire meal, if it were a color, would have been beige.

Logan's  raised the bar, and I'm confident that we'll be eating well during the project, based on his creativity in the kitchen.

Everything seems to be leading to this. If you surf through my blog entries, you'll read about the Scarcity Principle (; about Barb, who's redefined how to look at spending and saving joyfully (; about how the price of gas affects so much more than our mobility (, about the real cost of low prices (

Everything I've written lately has made an imprint.

So. We've got the freedom of summer, the good weather, the garden, the friends, the chef, the research.

One last question: who are the we?

Many of you know me. But let me fill those other folks in, just for a sec. Skip ahead if you know this part.

Single mom. One son is 18, going to college in August. One son is 15, a sophomore in high school next year.

Underemployed, but everything always works. Constantly busy, but content.

That's the super-short version.

And why am I choosing to reel in the discretionary spending for as long as we can?

It's not because of my crazy-expensive May.

Cents and Sensibility is about being conscious of what we really need. Finding alternatives. Being creative.

I'm not putting my family through this experiment as an act of social defiance. I hope this time will instead be an act of cohesion. A time when we realize that what we have is abundant, and enough.

How long can we go? That's the question.

Between now and a week from now, we'll get a few things at Costco. We'll inventory our stock, take a few pictures. And like a worm on the line, we'll wait. We'll see when we really need to buy something. What will be the first thing we'll have to have?

I have no clue. We'll have to wait and see.

It's unpredictable. Like anticipating the perfect storm.

1 comment:

  1. Consumerism is a spurge on our society and the earth.
    Testing your families ability to resist the urge to spend will be interesting.
    You are an amazing person to instill this to your kids.
    They will likely never forget.