I’ll admit that I haven’t blogged about my no spend month to a point that is highly suspicious. I had intended to do weekly updates. I somehow expected that week one would be the honeymoon phase and by week two I would look like this.
It didn’t happen. So what did happen? I think the truth of it is that I got rattled. It sounds stupid when I say it out loud (thank goodness I’m just typing.) I had my food lists and my menus. I knew what perishables were OK to buy and I felt good. I think I even adopted a benign almost Jedi- like smile knowing I had no longer a mindless drone targeted by the consumer death star. Cue music.
It started with something small. Josh and I decided to use a gift card to go to a movie. It included snacks so we were good to go, at least until we got to the cashier. Eight dollars? For what? The movie was only being shown in 3D so it would be an upcharge. I honestly felt ill. If I’d been by myself I think I would have gone home. This wasn’t the plan. I thought I was in control. After that there were unexpected school fees, a minor repair and getting stuck somewhere for the day where I needed to buy food. None of these should have been in surmountable but somehow it shook me. I maintained staying away from most grocery shopping but the dark side offered cookies and I took them.
It’s taken me a little while to figure out what happened but it is simple. I have a tendancy to be all or nothing. I will climb that mountain, achieve excellence in the field of excellence and have those thinner thighs in thirty days. I grew up in a culture of leadership worship. You needed to define what made you special. A lack of ambition was a vice. It made sense. The generation before had had to work so hard to make it that we with our privileges should be world shakers. I didn’t realize I’d brought so much of that into this.
It seems terribly dramatic for something as simple as a month of strict budgeting but it was more than that. Once I put aside that this wasn’t a race to be won I took it for what it was. It was to be a new habit, a new perspective on my relationship to money and food. It was also a spotlight on my need to validate myself with measureable success. I had to accept that I will not be asked to lead the rebels to live outside of the Empire’s control. What I will do is take my participant ribbon and give it some respect. I managed for the most part to use what I had for meals, not go shopping for clothes, except that one bra after a wardrobe malfunction, and find a new source of income. I wanted something big and finite. A penny pinched lifestyle is not about an iron control but being able to flex with your situation. It is also something beyond a quick fix.
So now I am midway through March. I accept the challenge as a learning time with no pass or fail and I am good with that. Anyone in the market for a slightly used droid?