As I am writing this, it is day 18 without spending money.
In a previous column I wrote about how I challenged myself to go a month without buying anything (other than rent, cell phone, car insurance etc. — things that would get me in trouble if I didn’t pay), and so far I am succeeding.
Except for a small blip where I needed to pick up some batteries for a work project, but I’m not going to count that.
The fresh vegetables ran out a week ago. I’m on a second loaf of bread and the last half of a bag of potatoes. I am eating a lot of apples.
But, I’m doing it.
Doing this, and talking about it, I acknowledge that my privilege is showing.
I can choose to do this, and complain about how difficult it is, where for some people having no money to spend is an every day reality.
For some people running out of fresh vegetables or other healthy food to eat is a real fear, not a bet that they made with their friends.
Keeping that in mind, I quit whining and just makes some comments.
I know food addictions are real, but I didn’t know how much I depended on junk food (chips) to get me through the stressful days.
It’s kind of gross how much I want to eat chips after a difficult day at work, or a lonely day at home, or, or, or…
On the other end of that is the sugar cravings.
I don’t eat a lot of sweets (salt is clearly my vice), but I had been drinking a fair amount of cranberry gingerale in the weeks leading up to November, my excuse being that it is only available at this time of year. Now that I can’t have it, I want more.
Luckily, water is readily available and an apple can generally give me that sugar boost I need.
The hardest part has been saying no to social events because I don’t want to spend any money.
I can see, even more clearly now, how living in poverty could limit a persons ability, or desire to socialize — it seems everything costs something these days.
Overall this has been eye opening. I am learning how much money I actually need, that it will be possible to stick to my budget in the future.
Which is exactly what I was hoping for.
My sister and I are planning a trip to celebrate her graduation, although I don’t know how I am going to come to terms with flying in this era of climate emergency (but that is another conversation for another day).
Basically, this little challenge has made me hopeful. I don’t know if I will ever save enough to buy a house (a broken oil pan or two will pop up out of no where to keep my savings account from growing that big), but maybe the next time there is an emergency I will be able to pay cash instead of using credit.
I learned how lucky I am, to be where I am and to have access to the funds that I do.
And I will be looking for more creative ways to socialize, that are both free and more inclusive.
Do you have any suggestions?