In a desperate effort to jumpstart my financial prudence, I have created a rather drastic goal for myself during the month of March: to only spend money on "essentials".
One of the students who works in my office called me out a couple months ago: "You really like to spend money, huh? It seems like you buy something every day." I prickled slightly and tried to defend myself, but now I'm admitting it's true. And I believe it's our culture today. Grab a coffee. A snack. A cute pair of earrings or a bag. An ice cream cone because you had a hard day. Online shopping because of an awesome sale. Dinner because you haven't had the chance to buy groceries in two weeks. I am the number one culprit.
So I'm forcing myself to think about every purchase I make this month. I'm finally admitting that the free coffee at work will wake me up just as well as Starbucks. I'm packing a lunch, and sometimes a dinner when I know I'll be gone all day, and I'm carrying around carrot sticks and Cheerios like a professional mother. I bought a stash of Dove dark chocolate from the grocery store to help lift my spirits and curb the craving for visits to the bakery. (Essentials, I'm telling you. Don't play with chocolate.) And clearly, a fifty-first pair of shoes is not an essential… at least not this month.
|Send me your toddlers, people. I've got snacks.|
And there has been an unexpected side-effect: I've become more grateful for free things. I know that makes me sound like a free-loading bum, but when I thought about it more, I realized how important it is to be grateful. Many times, I have snubbed the complimentary coffee at work or took for granted the dinner at an event or someone's house. When did I become too good or too self-sufficient to truly appreciate someone else sharing their money, food, and time with me? Becoming more aware of everything I spend money on also has made me aware of everything I receive with no cost. Someone handed me a free pair of earplugs on campus today and I was genuinely touched. I hope I continue to learn not to take things for granted.