Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cents and Sensibility, Day 22. Taking stock as we head into Week Four.

Today marks the first day of the fourth week of this project, so I figure that this a good opportunity to recap what's happened so far.

Or hasn't happened.

Compared to what happened with money in my house before June 1, it's obvious that I haven't done as much shopping.

In three weeks and a day, I've spent 197.48. That boils down to 8.98 cents a day.

I'll probably have to fill up my gas tank tomorrow, for the first time since May 31.

Let's take a look back at what I used to spend. Back on June 11, I did a bit of math, and figured that I'd been spending, on average, 43.75 per day on discretionary items before this project began.

And apparently, based on a February 2011 Gallup poll, even my salad days weren't quite as bountiful as those of my peers. Because Gallup deduced that "self-reported daily U.S. consumer spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations and online averaged $58 per day in January 2011, down from the January averages of $62 in 2010 and $64 in 2009, and far below the $97 average of 2008."

That's quite a disparity. I'm sure some folks are wondering if we're eating mac and cheese seasoned liberally with cat food while we're wandering around aimlessly, wondering what to do with ourselves.

That couldn't be further from the truth.

The majority of the 197.48 I've spent has supplemented the fresh items we've depleted.

Over the past three weeks, we've entertained - and we've been entertained by - a whole bunch of people, both at the Peasants Feasts and in smaller groups. I've been taken out to dinner a few times. And like last night, I've spent time with friends, either at their house or mine. And it's been lovely.

And we've eaten well, largely because of my son Logan's mad skills in the kitchen.

I took Logan out to lunch the other day, as a thank-you for buying into the project, and for making such amazing dishes over the past few weeks.

Most notably, he made breakfast pizza with homemade dough that was topped with cheese, potatoes, bacon and spices.

Decadent and delicious.

He whipped up some pizza muffin things that could easily be considered restaurant fare, served with a side of homemade marinara.

This morning, he made me an egg dish for breakfast that was yum-smack-licious. He makes every meal. And they've all been delicious.

And we have salad items that are as far away as our back yard. Nothing's as tasty as the spinach, lettuce and arugula salads we've been making lately.

Interestingly, when we were sitting at the Thai place we'd chosen for our lunch out, Logan mentioned that he appreciated going out to eat more than he used to.

It's good, I think, that he's noticing that moments become more special when the entitlement and frequency is taken away.

Both of my kids have been so accommodating to what I'm 'making them do' with this summer's project. They're both learning a few things. And the no that's implied by this experiment has gradually become willingly self-imposed. Because this has gradually become fun. Sometimes frustrating, but ultimately fun.

The project's not over, by any means. But it seemed significant today, to reflect on what we've learned so far.

This simple living really isn't the least bit constricting. And my bank balance is healthier than it's been for quite some time.

A very relaxed shift seems to be happening because I'm beginning to understand, very gradually, that if I stop twirling in my perceived need to procure, do, achieve, pre-emptively solve long enough to look up and notice, everything I need is right here.


  1. Wonderful post!! I have been keeping up with your project and letting it influence my life too! Last week I was thinking about you as I walked (not drove!) my kids to the VBS camp we had signed them up for (it was free BTW. Then I packed our lunches and had a picnic with neighbors, also free, and it turned out to be the most glorious day. Thank you for the inspiration!!

  2. Wow! Thanks so much reading, and for letting me in on your experience! It's kind of fun, this paring back, isn't it?