Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Secret to Not Spending

     We've got about a foot of snow on the ground, with more expected tonight. School is cancelled, my piano students for today cancelled, and it's remarkably quiet around here, now The Mama has gone back to Michigan. This visit showed the mom I'd grown up with -- generous, thoughtful and very much aware of what was going on. (Even though she often pretended not to be.) She was definitely tired and struggling some with the altitude. But she also was walking a lot better by the end of her visit.
     Early last week, the Brick realized that the heat lamp bulb had burned out in the chicken coop. We knew that they'd had light in the evenings -- we could see it. But heat, as well? The chickens have only been laying a few eggs a day in the past month...perhaps that's why. We got the problem fixed just in time; below-zero temperatures are the norm for the next few weeks.
     We spent the morning eating a leisurely breakfast, watching A Coffee in Berlin (self-absorbed, but funny moments) in front of a warm woodstove, and resting. (The Mama brought the Michigan version of the flu with her -- and we've both been fighting it off.) In the afternoon, I took an armful off our rapidly-diminishing bookshelves, and listed some for sale. (The rest will go out for the ARC donation truck, along with a load of taken-down Christmas decorations.)

     While working this afternoon, one of the great secrets of not spending, when you don't have the money to spend, suddenly occurred to me. You wanna know it, too?

Stay away from the places where you're normally tempted to spend money. 

Or at least hold off 'until tomorrow.' 

     You know which places push your mental buttons. For me, it's Amazon, fabric stores (the bane of quilters everywhere), Tuesday Morning, any markdown bins...and I hate to admit it: the thrift shop.
     One friend, on the other hand, couldn't stay away from her local Starbucks -- and she usually got a sandwich or muffin to go with her drink. By my guess, she spent more than $100 monthly at that place.
     Another friend swore by our local Sprouts grocery store. I often ran into her there, in the vegetable section. (Granted, Sprouts' greens and fruits are much cheaper than the other grocery stores in our area.)
    Another friend goes out to eat when he's hungry -- whether he has money in hand or not. (After all, there's the credit card. No matter that he can't afford to pay it off for months now.)
      And I've seen plenty of people wandering around Wal-Mart. Just wandering

You know which places are your personal favorites. The ones you love to stop by, even when you don't need anything.

Well, don't. 

The longer you stay away, the more your money stays safely in your account -- or pocket.  If something is truly needed -- your socks are threadbare, there's no milk or coffee in the house -- wait 24 more hours. (After all,  you've probably already gone some time before even noticing you were short.) You might change your mind, figure out a substitution... or decide to mend your socks.

Maybe he needs a new pair, after all.

     (The Smallwoods wait 72 hours, instead of 24. They call it "the beauty of delayed gratification.")

      I'll do another variation on the spending hold, when it comes to Amazon. If I find an interesting book or movie, I'll put it on my 'list:' or even better, borrow it from our local library. If they don't have it, I request it -- and it's often available through one of the other libraries in the state. Or they'll actually purchase the item I want to see or read -- and I'm first on the hold list. (I just did this, with two movies previewed on the Coffee in Berlin DVD:  Ida and The Last Sentence.)
     Your state may well have a similar system in's easy to find out.

     We've also used the  '24 hour rule' when considering larger purchases, like televisions -- only we'll wait 6 days. If the item's on sale, it's generally on sale for seven days. That gives you plenty of time to check your finances and consider whether you really want (or need) it. Sometimes you decide you don't!
     (If you do, see if you can pay via Paypal Credit: up to six months in payments -- and no interest if you finish on time.)

    If you do decide to hit the store: bring only enough change or dollar bills to get what you need. I learned this the hard way when I forgot my wallet the other day: no use checking out the marked-down bins at the grocery store.  (Though I still did!! Shamefaced grin) I had enough quarters for a gallon of milk-- gleaned from our parking meter stash in the car, That was all we truly needed.

      And that was all I got.

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