Sunday, November 30, 2008

I've got the economy.

My family and I laughed at someone on the DIS who posted that she thought "people with the economy" would be cancelling their Disney vacations, and so Disney was going to do some huge promo. Yes, they're doing a huge promo now, but we were laughing at the idea of people actually having the ecomony... like a disease. It's become a running joke with us -- "look out for the economy! I hear it's catching!" Yes yes ha ha... but I have the economy. Seriously.

I've written about money woes before on my blog, and I'm totally comfortable talking money (gasp) bc we all have issues, we all have our own personal woes, and honestly, it's my blog, so if you don't like it, don't read it. :) I thought a progress report would be nice though, and I need to write to clear my head a bit.

When my Aunt Mary passed away about a month ago, and I looked at my credit card and realized it was super high, and I realized I couldn't afford to go to the funeral, I finally started facing the fact that I have a problem. Thankfully a co-worker bailed me out and got me to the funeral using some frequent flyer miles, but I didn't just thank God and continue about my life like nothing was wrong. I read some articles, I looked at my budget vs what I was really spending, and I got honest with myself.

I am a shopaholic. No jokes. No excuses. I shop to alleviate stress, to make myself feel better, to try to make people like me (oh yeah, I'm a gift giver). You name it, I can rationalize buying it (today, no hesitations, no second thoughts, and NO buyer's remorse). Want to know specifics? How about using my stimulus check on a 42 inch flat panel TV? Tax return you ask? New furniture for my living room. Those cute tops I wear? Well I need to look good to teach bc the kids notice. My $1000 cookware -- the Teflon gives you cancer. My china dishes? Well even if I'm not getting married, I still deserve nice china. I could go on. I'm not cheap. I've been like this for a while. It's been getting worse.

OK, you might be rolling your eyes right now, but I'm serious. This is a disease. This is a horrible horrible addiction I have decided is not ok and I have to break.

I started by going cold turkey on spending for a month. No buying anything but the neccessities (and comic books -- they were the only thing on the ok list but I'm working to cut back). I had to live off the food in my fridge and pantry but could buy things like milk, bread, and produce. I did not give up luxuries like internet and my DVR, but I didn't buy non-consumables -- no extra clothing, no jewelry, no purses, no trinkets, no stationary, you get the picture. Oh yeah, here's the worst part: no eating out.

I made it through my month. I greatly missed the eating out with my friends on Sundays. I missed the fellowship, but I found it in other ways, in other places, and for free. I didn't miss the crowds, waiting for a table, figuring out where to eat, the bad service, the cranky kids waiting for food that made us sick bc it was so fat laden. No, all of that I did not miss.

OK, so one month later, and I'm telling LaRae today that I feel empowered. I'm not just trying to pay off my credit card, I'm trying to fix the problem, and I'm winning... mostly. How in the world did I used to grocery shop without looking at prices?! How did I not pay attention to how much I was spending for ridiculous stuff??? It's getting easier to tell myself no to things. It's getting easier to plan a menu for the week. It's getting easier to miss those Sunday meals. It's partially easier bc my sister and her family are cutting back too. Besides the raving madness that it materialism/consumerism is sickening, and I'm ready to not be known for my stuff but for me.

Today it got hard. Change isn't easy. Today I realized that to do small presents for everyone on the math team (15 people!), to get to go to Pokeno, to get to BUY GAS to make my car run, I needed to cut back a few more things. That means no VRCC Christmas Party ($5 per person, hosting a table, and an ornament exchange!) -- which meant letting Jenn down by backing out of hosting a table with her. On the upside, it also meant that LaRae and Randy could have a much needed night out with friends bc I can provide free babysitting for them. It means no jackpot round at Pokeno. When you see $5 as a whole chicken that makes two full recipies and leftovers for a days on end, you don't want to gamble it away. It means watching where I drive and staying in even more. It means I cried on the way home from LaRae's tonight when I had to call Jenn and tell her I was sorry I couldn't do the party and when I realized my happy victory over a month of not spending was now tainted by the realization that this isn't easy.

Mostly it means I'm starting to feel like in the process of letting myself down, I let my friends down too. I mean, this is my problem. I have to fix it. As a result, I can't do my normal fellowship with my friends bc I'm choosing not to spend money on the things we used to do to socialize. I feel like it's making it seem like I'm pulling away, and I'm totally not... I just have to let them down sometimes (like with the hosting of the table). I miss going out. I miss my friends. I feel bad saying no, but I need them to understand why. This isn't a new kick I'm on that's going away. This is tightening up FOR REAL until my debt is gone, and I'm able to actually put real money into savings. One day I'll be able to go out to eat some again and go to movies and such, but understand -- that "one day" is not coming up soon. Please understand that I'm still here, I'm still fun, but if you want to be with me, we have to come up with something that's free to do. :) Let's share a potluck meal at each other's homes, let's have a game night, but let's not forget me. I haven't forgotten you.

I'll post something fun again soon -- I'm trying to update my blog again more often, so check back soon.


  1. Good for you! I think what you're talking about can be harder than even a diet or exercise program. It's such a part of so many everyday and social situations. Keep doing what you're doing, and I'll bet it will actually help a lot of people that see your efforts.

    My favorite line..."I'm still here, I'm still fun." :)

  2. I think you're amazing! These are tough things to do, and you're doing them. Congratulations on sticking with it. :)