My apologies for temporarily losing my blogging streak. I assure you, though, I haven’t neglected the consumer fasting.
People keep asking, “Yeah, so, how’s that going?” And I’m all, “Yeah, It’s um … going.” “Really?” they ask, “You really haven’t bought anything?” “Nope. Nothing.” Done.
What’s there to talk about?
Well, there was my Master Card bill. It was the lowest my family has seen in years. This fast was never meant to be about saving money (read about my motivations here), but it was exciting, nonetheless, to see a “total spending” amount that blew the old socks off any number we’ve achieved in the past. There have been times when we’ve painstakingly accounted for every penny, have obsessed over shaving every sliver off the top of every budget, and have allowed the quest for a number to rule our lives. And never were we this successful.
This time, we just kept our fast and enjoyed life as is. There was no sense of deprivation, no struggle, no time-consuming tallying and tracking. There was just living – simple and free.
And, there’s something else to talk about: my house is too big. Seriously, I find myself thinking–for the first time ever–that we have more space than we really need. Our two-bed/1-bath bungalow is cozy and not at all excessive for a family of four, but since getting rid of a whole lot of stuff and replacing it with a whole lot of nothing, I’m realizing that smaller is possible (and might even be better).
And last but not least, we decided to celebrate. We took the money we’ve earned from selling the stuff we no longer need and bought ourselves an evening of babysitting and a night out on the town. And, yes, we bought a couple drinks. I know, in This is too hard, I said we would no longer buy alcohol. We haven’t decided to reinstate our $20/month alcohol budget (this “celebration” was just a one-off), but we did decide, just this once, to trade stuff for experiences and call it even.
I hope I’m not being a hypocrite. Originally, I set-out to spend an entire year buying absolutely no physical stuff. Experiences were excluded from the fast. I have since upped the anti and have banned all sorts of experiences, foods, and beverages. I do wonder why I chose to do that. Banning experiences doesn’t fit, exactly, with my original motivations (as described in my first post: And so, we begin!), but I have had some valid reasons for choosing to make the challenge more difficult. Mostly, I have wanted to strip away everything possible in order to discover what will really be missed and what was simply a spending habit. But, where do I draw the line?
Though I’ve been motivated by the intrinsic pursuit of simplicity through deprivation, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve also been influenced by the judgement of those who didn’t feel my “consumer fast” was a consumer fast at all. I’m a little disappointed in myself that judgement from others might have played a role in changing my family’s personal challenge, but then again, I am writing a public blog.
If a blog isn’t a means for readers and writers to interact with one another and to examine ideas after exposing them to the perspectives of others, then what is it?
Truth is, I’m not missing the shopping for end of season deals, the absence of Groupon emails, the broken salad bowl that we didn’t replace (the punch bowl works fine), and I’m definitely not missing the lack of “a new pair of skinnies for Spring,” regardless of how much The Gap may insist that I need them.
I am missing date nights, the occasional coffee shop visit, and bringing a bottle of local wine to a friend’s house for dinner. I will definitely miss my once a week beer once they are gone. (I’ve been rationing ever since we made the decision to cut the–albeit tiny–alcohol budget.) Is the fact that I miss these things reason enough to keep abstaining from them? Am I only questioning my reasons for cutting them as a potential excuse for bringing them back? What do you think?
So, “how’s it going?” you ask. Great. I love my low Master Card bill. I love my de-cluttered house. I love being immune to the pressures of needing to shop for new and better things. I also LOVE that, this weekend, we sold stuff and spent the money on having fun. Was it consumerist? Yeah, maybe. Was it cheating? Yeah, maybe. But somehow, it felt “right.” Right?