Tuesday, February 22, 2011

This week in frugality

This week went better. I confined myself happily to one meal out, one beer with friends, and one beer with students. Simple grocery shopping. Found a source for Jack's favorite cat food that is 30-40%. Put money back into savings.


  • I went through my clothes again and pulled out the vintage pieces and a few more consignment pieces. My goal is to either sell these or get store credit for them. Either would suit me and lighten my closet.
  • My IRA fund is now transferred to its new carrier, and I feel soooooo much better about that.
  • I worked out a calendar for the rest of the year, based on the scenarios where I teach two classes this coming summer and one in the fall, or none, in order to assess paying back debt and saving money. Surprisingly even if I don't teach a single, extra class, with the new apartment, I'll still be able to save money and pay off debt.
  • I gave myself a specific task for every month, to save money or generate it.
This may sound silly, but for someone who never lived with a budget despite earning a steady paycheck (even in grad school) since she was 21, this is huge. Two years ago I realized that I was just not facing my income, my debt, and my future, just floating along (like most Americans!) earning and spending and continuing debt. Not good for a single woman hoping to retire in something more than a cardboard box.

Fortunately, I did actually have the sense to let a really smart money manager set up my money when I first came to the Big D, before she moved on to other jobs. So things have been earning and flowing, but more like the natural prairie than a well-tended garden, if you know what I mean. Lately I've been doing a little weeding, a little putting in order. And it feels good.

Spending the last four months purging and decluttering and selling in a serious way--and definitely more to come before and during The Move--has been liberating. Paper, clothes, housewares, books, CDs, DVDs, and "stuff" has left my life. Cleaning out e-mail boxes and filing bins and so forth... wow! Great for me.

As well as realizing that a smaller TV, my old stereo, my bike, an old car, and a Nook could be enough.

I am not a minimalist in the "100 Possessions" way, or the "10 Piece Wardrobe." I'd get so bored! I like stuff and variety... but I want to have "stuff" that is essential, rather than something I bought to fill a void or time. DVDs I never watch. Books I never read. Clothes I never wear--as pretty as they were on the rack. Too much stuff is distracting, too little is boring. Finding the happy medium--which also means getting to know oneself--is much better.

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