We are a society that loves to spend money we don’t have on shit we don’t need (I love quoting Fight Club). It may not be my favorite activity, but it’s definitely top-100. And in that vein, our houses become filled with crap and our refrigerators overflow with rotted food. Our excesses define us to an alarming degree.
So now we’re going to try to change that.
As my wife announced to the entire Facebook world on Friday, we will be embarking on a month-long odyssey to not spend money. The rules: only the necessities. Food, bills, gas and emergency medical issues will be attended to. Everything else, no dice. No booze purchasing on a whim. No going out to eat. Nothing frivolous in any way, shape or form. The new regime begins the day after Valentine’s Day, so if nothing else you may congratulate her on pragmatism.
Now, the concerns:
1. This is really going to suck.
As far back as I can remember, all I ever wanted was to have money. As my logic went, money could solve most problems adolescent me had, and since I lacked an athletic or musical background that stretched much past ‘awkward’, college was the key that would unlock a world of vast riches to me.
While Younger Me got a lot of things wrong, he hit this one spot-on. Having disposable income on hand has eased a lot of burdens from my life, like figuring out dinner (if there’s nothing in the fridge, order a pizza) or how to make up for being a jerk to my wife – FTD and 1800Flowers.com have same-day delivery policies! And now that I’ve gotten used to these conveniences, I don’t really want to live another way.
2. Social life will be severely curtailed
Going to be tough to explain that “We can go out but we can’t spend any money” logic. It’s for a month, and that month is post-Super Bowl and post-Valentine’s Day, so it’s possible there won’t be much going out to be had. Still, if you ask us to join you downtown for dinner and drinks and we refuse, know it’s not because we don’t like you, but we’re just not spending money this month*.
*- It might still mean we don’t like you.
3. This is going to be really boring
Spending money is a great way to alleviate boredom, whether it’s going to a movie, a sporting event, an Amazon order or whatever else floats your boat. Not spending money is boring. Wanting is better than having, and the anticipation between want and have is the best. There will be none of that this month.
There are a few pros to offset the above cons though. Such as…
1. The Poverty Diet
My name for how we will eat for 30 days. No going out means no being tempted by steaks, pizza, fried foodstuffs and things covered in cheese. We’ll eat what’s in the house, and what’s usually in our house consists of fruits, veggies and lean meats. While this isn’t a perfect system by any stretch, it will keep us aimed squarely at eating healthy, since there will be no other way we can eat.
2. Soaring creativity
Look, there’s no point in splitting hairs or mincing words: this is going to be boring. Night after night, sitting at home is going to be tedious. And that’s where the creativity will come in. We will have to invent ways to stave off boredom.
(No, we aren’t cutting cable or NetFlix or throwing out the Playstation. You’d be moderately amazed how little those things are used, because I am a wretched, spoiled human.)
At the end of this experiment, I hope I have a healthier appreciation for the things in my life, and the value of a dollar and all those other excellent attributes my father wanted me to learn when I was a child. Maybe – maybe! – this will make me way more zen and appreciate the little things in life.
This probably won’t be the case. At its core, this grand idea was hatched with an eye toward saving money for (vacation, future child, $600 bottle of scotch…fill in the blank as needed). But if we learn a life lesson along the way, there’s no harm in that either.