Thursday, June 30, 2011
Cents and Sensibility, Day 30. Turning the page to Phase Two.
It was then that I realized we've been doing this experiment for an entire month, as of today.
The last time I spent a measurable amount of money was May 31. And since then, there have been a few changes around here.
As you may recall, prior to May 31 I was spending, on average, $150 each week at the grocery store. I've done a bit of an unscientific poll, and my previous spending pattern fit right into the range that most people spend. Some folks with less people in their house spend more than $150, but most folks I asked spend just as much as me or more.
This past month, I've spent, on average, $50 per week buying groceries.
I'm no scientist, but that's a significant savings ($600/month vs. $200/month). And we've had lots of company.
As for gas, I used to burn around three tanks in a month, each tank costing $44. That's $132 per month.
After filling up the tank on May 31, I didn't fill up again until June 23. And I still have a bit less than a half a tank. So let's just say I've spent $65 on gas this past month. That's just about half of what I used to shell out.
As for all things discretionary, I used to spend my extra cash at whim, without really thinking. Ten bucks here, give the kid a $20, let's go out to dinner, I need a new fill-in-the-blank. It adds up. I was spending somewhere in the $150/week range on events, items, necessities for me and my kids before May 31.
Logan used to drink a crazy amount of Diet Coke. I did the math, and I was spending approximately $56 every month, just to keep him (and I confess, occasionally me) supplied with Coke.
He hasn't had a Diet Coke for three weeks. I have one very occasionally.
I've definitely cut way, way back. During the first three weeks of the project, I spent an average of $25/week on extras. This past week, what with treating myself to some brand new clothes and dishing out some money so my son could go out to lunch with a friend, the average has gone up a bit.
That's not a bad thing. Everything in moderation, including moderation. Sometimes it's nice to step out and do something special. Cutting back makes the splurgy times more meaningful.
What have we learned so far?
I know that I've learned to think twice before I buy something. That's a skill I definitely hadn't mastered. Now we use what we have, instead of using the excuse of needing an ingredient or an item as motivation for leaving here, for shopping, for buying much more than what was on the list, because we deserve it.
I have more appreciation for what we do have. I've become more aware of why I spend money.
In the past, I'd rarely spend my days off at home. I'd find some reason to roam around, chalking items off a very self-imposed To-Do list.
Now, I realize more clearly that no one does anything they don't sign up for. I'm not a victim to the errands, events, obligations that I willingly put on my list.
I have a new appreciation for silence, for quiet, for stopping.
So it's been a month, and it's been good.
But it's not over.
"What?" you say. "No more blogging every day, no more bouts of fiscal and personal self-exposure?"
I'll tap out our progress intermittently now, because we're headed into Phase Two.
After discussing it with my family, we're going to continue to spend as we have this past month. We're going to ease off the meat now that it's almost gone, and get creative with beans, rice, tofu, fresh stuff.
I intend to become a bit less cloistered after today, although I'm sure it will be gradual, because I've really enjoyed paying attention to the Right Now that doesn't include the self-imposed notion of happiness through acquisition.
So. Like the Kardashians, a bad rash or what remains of my relationship that's stowed in my garage, some things, like Cents and Sensibility, just seem to linger whether you want them to or not.
Long and short (and this entry is going a bit long), this project has become too financially and personally fruitful. New ways of thinking about things are becoming a habit.
And apparently they're a hard habit to break.
Posted by Mary at 10:18 AM