As you may know, I like to give myself little projects. Being a stay-at-home mom, living in the middle of nowhere, and often having no husband around for company is not as mentally stimulating as one might think, so I take a photo a day for a whole month to learn how to use my camera, or I start a blog for my mom to read and still find myself at it almost a year later, or I bake or sew or knit, just to amuse myself. Over the last couple of days, two minor incidents have made me think I need to stretch myself just that much further. First was the bag sale.
I'd never heard of a bag sale before moving out here, but every little local thrift store around these parts has one from time to time, and I've noticed people doing it during the last hour or so of their yard sale as well. You get a big grocery bag and anything you can fit in there can go in for a grand total of five bucks. For a thrifty treasure-hunter like me, putting a "Bag Sale" sign in front of the store is like waving an ounce of crack under the nose of a hard-core addict.
So yesterday, while Rosemary's Baby was at daycare for a couple of hours, Firstborn got on his bike and we had a pleasant summer jaunt over to the thrift store. As always, I was not disappointed. It takes a fair bit of digging in these places, and there's plenty of stuff that no one in their right mind could possibly want (WHO donates their old underwear?!), but in the end, I found two shirts for Firstborn, a book for Rosemary's Baby, a pair of Gap jeans and yet another purse for me, and of course Firstborn was allowed to pick himself and his brother out a toy. Not bad for $5.
But then I came home and immediately felt guilty about the purse. I am a purse nut, and I have a very big tub of them in the hallway closet. I do not need one more purse. So I started digging around in there to find a few I could throw into a donation bag, you know, to even out the score. Once I'd done that, I felt much better, because what is more freeing than getting rid of clutter? Every time I walk past that closet, I can hear my purses whispering to me, reminding me that they're all stuffed in there ruining my feng shui and begging to be used. They're supposed to make me happy, but they just end up stressing me out.
And now we come to incident number two. This morning I was looking for some file or other on the computer and I came across a little table I'd made to track where all our money is going from month to month. I updated it, filling in all the banking info from June and July, and took a good look at this year's spending. We do well on groceries and we're very good on gas, especially considering every single errand out here has to be run in the car. But it was the "Miscellaneous" section that scared the bejeezes out of me. During the renovations (I count anything from Home Depot as miscellaneous), that number soared into the thousands, which isn't really surprising. But even last month, when the Captain was mostly away and we hardly went anywhere or did anything, there was no less than $250 worth of miscellaneous spending. Now, some of that is stuff like shoes for kids or bug spray or a box of pens or something, but my first feeling when I saw that number was guilt, and that tells me that some of those expenses--probably at least half--went towards clearanced sweaters I didn't need, or fast food meals I really could've done without, or six inch heels I couldn't possibly ever use but had to have because they were on sale for $10. I have more things right now than a lot of people on this planet will own in a lifetime, and still I buy junk on impulse because...I have no idea! Do I think I'll never find such a great deal again?!
So I want to try something, just to see if I can do it. From now until the end of the year, I'm going to try not to make any unnecessary purchases. This means no slipping a t-shirt into my cart at the Superstore and figuring it'll get eaten up by the grocery bill. No swinging through a drive-thru because I know I have food at home, but I want to eat a fatty burger while I'm heading back there. And no jumping at something I don't need and won't use (and that was probably made by a nine year-old living in poverty) just because it's on sale. Can I do it?
If you see a dishevelled woman sobbing hysterically at the Wal-Mart checkouts, with nothing more than milk and bread in her cart, you'll know it's looking good.