I love the beginning of the new year with all the challenges for health, fitness and financial savings. Why? Because I can do all of them, at least for the first week. Walk a block? Done. Plank for 20 seconds? If broken into 10 second increments then I’ll say done. Clean my home? http://www.flylady.net says we start with baby steps and the first task was to shine my sink. Done. 52 week savings challenge? One dollar in the jar. Done.
For one week out of the year I am at the top of my game. The week has passed.
Now it is real and I’ve got a problem. I’m a multimedia artist. That’s a nice way of saying I sometimes secretly want stuff that is being thrown out on “Hoarders”. My son has pretended not to know me when I bend down to pick up a rusty bottle cap. Yelling “It’s OK. I”m an artist” does not appear to repair the situation. There is potential everywhere and sometimes it find its way to my basement. All of my basement.
Being penny pinched I have learned to get discount groceries, free samples and learned how to recycle most everything that enters the house. Old t-shirts? Those can to used to make rag rugs, stuffed animals, cleaning cloths and little pillows. Little bits of metal can be used in sculptures, jewelry, baskets or mosaics. Glass jars are great for storing beads, spices, paper clips etc. You get the idea. Waste nothing! It great. The problem is that when I want that jar I can no longer see it. I don’t remember where it is. I don’t usually remember I have it.
I may have thirty samples of shampoo. Some date back to 2011. ( Hhm. “How to Tame Your Mullet” may be a bit older). Having it is great only if I use it. If I’m not using it, it is taking up valuable real estate. It is actually an obstacle to being able to create, to live less expensively. Eventually it amount of stuff becomes oppressive. It yells at you to do something with it but you can’t think for all of the other screechy little voices. It drains your energy.
Eventually you hit weeks 2, 3 and 4. It is time to organize. This month it is time to create a simplified environment. It is to stop over spending in terms of space, and energy and time vrs. reward. Penny pinched is still going to be about getting a deal and I’m going to start by reclaiming valuable property from my stuff. Time to clean all the things.
You have seen this movie.
Slowly the hero enters the darkened passage. He scans the shadows and suddenly there is a sharp noise. He whips around to confront the danger. It turns out to be a cat or an old rocking chair. He breathes a sigh of relief, realizing there was no real menace, and relaxes. He turns back. Before he can even react it’s too late. He is taken down by a claw, a tentacle or an old school mate inviting him to a home sales party. Either way he is hooped.
Welcome to my January. I made it through Black Friday until just after Boxing Day. Even with the best of intentions I got hit with the January desperation deals and I bought things that were nowhere near being on my “without this we will become hobos” list. (This is not meant in any way to be critical of or unfair to members of the hobo community considering that without careful planning I could one day be carrying my possessions on the end of a stick.) Knowing that I have some financial needs that do not fit in the budget I knew that I needed to take some drastic action to get back on track.
Where do I start?
It means I can’t afford to get great deals. I cannot afford bonus points or couponing, at least for the foreseeable future. I know. I hear the tense snipping of the scissors and feel the disapproving stares as the coupon clipping continues at a furious rate. Heretic. I know that in the U.S. with double coupon days and stacking you can often go home with free stuff. My dilemma is that I am good with free but cannot afford a deal. I already have enough detergent, hair products, and pasta. A good buy is still using money for things I already have.
I learned a secret at a Mrs. Smith seminar, couponer extraordinaire. She said that most coupons come in three month cycles. If you have enough to cover that time frame you do not need more. The truth is that I can’t resist the deal so I have to get rid of the flyers before I look at them. It is just too tempting.
So what do I plan to do now that I have little suction cup marks all over my face from the last tangle with the lure of the great deal?
I am planning a “No Spend Month”. (It is more fun if you capitalize it and put it in flashy little grammar markings. I could have used an exclamation mark but I’m saving that for later.) I have ten days to strategize how to make this a success. I will share my battle plans with you. I’m going to have to get creative if I want to succeed. Let’s go savings! Momma needs a new washing machine.
One of my go-to blogs is called Debt Proof Living by Mary Hunt. This was her Facebook post today. I admit that I love the search for the deal. Right now the flyers are overflowing with huge savings, meaning savings off of prices you wouldn’t have paid before the sale. The real way to save? This artist nailed it. Wishing you many 100% savings. Happy New Year to all, Deb
I don’t know how many of you are still out there but I promised myself I would try and reach as many of you as I can. Time is short. Some have already fallen to exhaustion and will be woken with shrill cries, demands for tribute submerged in a haze of carbohydrates and sugars. The frenzy of wrappings, colours, people and conversation may make it impossible to think clearly. You are being conditioned my friends.
How do I know? Because last year that was me and I vowed to share my story so others do not have to make the same mistakes.
You can call me Deb because that is my actual name. It seems like only a year ago I was celebrating, unwrapping yet another low fat cookbook, which was starting to make me a little sensitive, and hitting the hot cocoa pretty hard. I was feeling no pain, except for the damage to my self esteem, and was relaxed. I was too relaxed. As I sat at the table, under the pile of newspapers I saw the edge of something glossy. Why was there no music in a minor chord to warn me of the danger? I’m always the one at a movie to notice the music when someone heads for the basement door or walks into the woods in high heels. No. There was no warning for me. I pulled the sheet towards me and there written in thick black oozing blood, I mean ink, were the numbers. It said 70% off everything (with the illegible writing saying that it did not apply to anything that you wanted, that you had to ask a clerk to help you find, non-toxic, non GMO, in your size or in style).
I started to shake and quickly check the time. It is only 20 hours until the Boxing Day sales started and I knew I needed to be in that line. Where was the sale? It didn’t matter. Did you not hear that it was 70% off? I’d never been to Hank’s House of Hinges but they were giving out free organic ragweed blend knitted scarves with every $200 purchase. How is that not a deal? I don’t remember that day well but if you come to my home you may notice that everything moves well. Too well.
It is too late for me to unplate the damage but it doesn’t have to happen to you. It doesn’t matter the discount. Defend yourself by making a list before you look at the flyers and if you do not have anything on the list get rid of the flyers without looking at them. Yes I know they compel you to look. In history there has been the dreaded three, the basilisk, Medusa and the Boxing Day flyers. The peril is too great. I have purged the house of these papers. The inbox. No. I must empty the inbox. Why do I hear music? Nooooo.
“One of the most terrifying things that has ever happened to me was watching myself decide over and over again – thirty-five days in a row – to not return a movie I rented.”
“I like being a woman. I also like being friends with other women. I don’t, however like being thrown in with people you don’t know and don’t want to be with, but you are all going to share this intimate event with glee. If it kills you. And that’s how I feel at this bridal shower.”
“It was Miss Somer’s turn to make the tea. Miss Somers was the newest and most inefficient of the typists. She was no longer young and had a mild worried face like a sheep.”
I was challenged to list 100 things for which I am grateful.
One of them is the feeling of being captured by a book. There is nothing like finding something that first attracted you with its cover or title and then knowing, within the first paragraph, that you’d found your latest adventure.
You know when it happens. You are already up too late or need to leave for an appointment but you need to read just one more page (chapter). You know you’ve found a good book.
Growing up we moved a fair bit and reading was my passion. I loved the play of language and imagery. Books were friends that always moved with me.
When I got married I had approximately 800 books in my room and had to make a choice between the book shelves and him. It was a close race.
In watching the budget I am so grateful that with a free library card I have access to a world of entertainment. I can spend hours browsing the titles and discover authors I never knew and books to suit my need for laughter, distraction, fantasy or learning. If I want I can just go on line and order whatever book I’d like from within the system and have it delivered to my local library. I can borrow movies or music as well but it is always the books that call to me. I love to curl up with a book, carry it with me in the car, and have it as an always available dining companion.
I am so grateful for the connection and insight that comes from books.
When I’m feeling boxed in because of finances I can get myself to the library and travel vicariously, laugh until I snort, get inspired to learn a new language, or allow myself to be enchanted.
Wishing you all the richness of a good read, Deb