On reflection

2

September 11, 2008 by missmegany

I‘ve been reading a lot lately about people who have cut down their spending. One woman did it to stop buying plastic (including anything with plastic packaging). She’s been doing that for over two years. She still buys a lot, but she thinks more about what she purchases. (See her website linked on the left)

I just finished a book called Not Buying It that follows a woman and her partner through one year of not buying ANYTHING apart from “essentials” (turns out she gives in to clothes a couple times, and buys super expensive fish as a “necessary” addition to their dinner party). It’s a great read, although she does interject lots and lots of quotes by other people who have written about marketing, consumption, consumerism, and “simplicity” which doesn’t always make it the easiest read at 11:30pm.

Despite her ramblings, her interesting look at the emotional reasons why we buy, and the associations we have with “freedom” when we spend, the main thing I took away from this book was her sense of mindfuless.

My friend Nina has decided that she must be living on £1.00 most days. Seriously? Of course, her food, rent, and bills are included in the place where she lives so that makes a massive difference… but that still means that most days she spends NO money on anything else!

I am a bit of a loser, and I try to keep track of my money on Quicken. I make charts of spending, I look at percentages of savings; the whole nine yards. But the thing that gets me is cash. For example, this year I stopped keeping it up to date at the beginning of July (I go through lazy periods) , and for the year to date I had taken out £950 in cash. Almost all of that I can’t account for. I started to keep track by writing down on a piece of paper in my wallet every cash purchase and keeping receipts, but little things add up and I kept forgetting. Laziness, again. That is sooooo much money that seems to have disappeared into the ether.

So I think I should be a bit more mindful. I should pay more attention to what I buy, and its effect on me, and the world around me. In The Omnivore’s Dilemma, another book I just finished (I don’t have a job at the moment so I’m reading a LOT) where it also talks about mindfulness in terms of thinking about how what we eat affects so much of the world (pesticides? oil industry? subsidies? farmers’ livelihoods? 2,000 mile journey? animal welfare?). I do that to an extent, but I get lazy and buy a lot of things anyway.

So here’s the plan:
When I had to apply for my spouse visa (oh, what fun!), I submitted a spreadsheet showing that, if necessary, we could live on Mac’s salary alone. I proved, using averages of our bills, rent, and groceries, that we would have £149.30 left over each month. I don’t think that Mac is willing to take on this challenge yet (or maybe ever), so I thought it would only be fair to halve it to get my portion: £74.65 a month (sorry about the £ sign…it’s not on my American laptop so I’m pasting it in).

I’m going to take out that amount in cash and try to make it last a month. I’m not going to count groceries or hygiene stuff, it’ll be anything else. From bus fares and train tickets (that means one trip to London in 2-3 months!!) to having lunch, buying clothes, etc. I’m going to try to make that 75 quid last as long as I can. My cards should only be used at the grocery store.

I’m hoping it’s easy. With a new job starting on Monday, plus the volunteer work I’m doing, I should be sufficiently busy to not spend money. I think that’s part of Nina’s success-she’s so busy that she couldn’t spend money if she wanted to…. well, that plus she just doesn’t HAVE any money. I’ll invite friends over for dinner more (I’ve been meaning to do that for a while) and maybe check out more free stuff. I need to start thinking about how I’m going to budget in presents…….. hmmmm…. This is going to be hard.

Let’s hope this is the start of a more mindful me.

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2 thoughts on “On reflection

  1. Robin says:

    Have you ever thought about giving cash up all together? How often is it that you purchase something from a street vendor, or someone else who wouldn’t accept credit cards? I don’t think that I do at all… except the farmers market. But that’s something to keep track of (because it’d be the only one!) That way, EVERYTHING would be tracked.

  2. Megan says:

    Yeah, but the idea is that if I only use cash I can limit myself to exactly 74.65 Once there is no money in my wallet, i have no more to spend.Plus, you notice when you spend cash. If you put it on a card, it doesn’t feel like any money has actually been exchanged.

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Less and Less and More is all about enjoying more, all whilst worrying about less. Whether enjoying better health because you eat less junk, having more time for friends and family because you spend less time on acquiring, or lots of other big and little things that we want more of, I look at examples of people doing more.

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