Simple living through going cold turkey!

I’m fascinated about how different paths lead people to live more simply. Recently a friend shared a link to the Market Watch interview of Canadian blogger Cait Flanders, who went on a two-year shopping ban.

As longtime readers may recall, I participated in a month-long “no spending challenge” with a friend. Like Flanders and the majority of her co-participants, the friend who initiated the challenge wanted to change her habit of unconscious consumption. Continue reading

The month of low spending

One of my tormenters trendy friends pointed me to a financial guru (whose name I’ve already forgotten) who suggested that in preparation for a downsizing in income,* one should try a Month of No Spending. To which I said, “Ha! May is Mother’s Day, gardening, and two birthdays!”

But my fiend… erm, friend is very insistent on trying new things and dragging his pals along for the ride. So I did a Month of Low Spending.**

Obviously I saved more money than usual. I also observed what I considered “essential spending.” But I also saw how my spending habits reflect my mindset.***

  • Extras Just In Case. I have never turned down a deal on cleaning products, at least until this month. It’s ridiculous because I don’t need them; most grime succumbs to soapy water, a rag, and muscles.
  • Public Library vs My Library. You’d think that after purging my shelves, I’d never want to purchase another book. You’d be wrong, especially since a favorite drugdealer bookseller had a special sale on Stone Bridge Press publications. I literally destroyed one book by emptying an entire cup of coffee into it (super-absorbent, those SBP books!) but at least I didn’t have to pay a fine.
  • Good To The Last Drop. On the flip side, my frugal habits of yesteryear rose like familiar ghosts. I mended an old skirt for the final time – the fabric is literally wearing away. I added water to bottles of shampoo, soap, and make-up. I steered clear of the theatre district, favorite stores, and the Internet – the most tempting spots.

Overall, I think I have a lot of room for improvement.


*According to the Big Boss, a% reduction in pay is coming. At least 10%, but as much as 25%. Excluded in his calculations was the increase in personal cost of health care.

**But first I prepared for my friend’s challenge by paying ahead for nearly a month of cafeteria lunches in April. (It’s not cheating! It’s being clever! I got a discount!)

***What really struck me is how I’ve absorbed certain hang-ups about the proper behavior of white collar workers or people of education. A kind soul gave The Factory workers certificates for free breakfast at McDonald’s. Colleagues gave theirs away, not because they don’t eat fast food, but because McDonald’s is not on par with Panera or Starbucks.  Why not? They’re all corporations serving food-on-the-go.

 

Frugal frills

In response to my recent post about shabby chic (among other things), my friend Jenny e-mailed me a personal story about flea-marketing New Yorkers. She asked me a fun question: “What are your favorite frugal finds?”

So here they are, in no particular order:

  • Turtlenecks for extra layers of warmth (5 for $5 sale at the Salvation Army store)
  • Pork neck bones from a local butcher, perfect for soup
  • A honing steel. Judging by the deep scratches on one side, the previous owner didn’t know how to use it – not that I blame him/her, since I learned from a DVD of Chef Bill Briwa. I’ve straightened blades on a food processor and a blender, prolonging their usefulness.
  • A carafe with glass liner, a push-button on top to open the valve, and a pencil-pattern going all around it.  Its ’80s style caught my eye at a rummage sale, and I was told it works well for both hot and cold beverages. Does it ever! It’s also easy for a child to use without spilling.