Nightmares – Er – Tales of a Spendoholic (Episode 1)

Last night I saw an advertisement for something I could use.  It doesn’t really matter what It is.  Let’s just say that if It functions as advertised, it would make me look nice and probably boost my self esteem as a result — basically, the next best thing to magically making me a Supermodel overnight. :P

Anyway, It was one of those special deals with “order now” and “get this extra thing free” plus “get this other thing half price”.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  You’ve wanted one of those before.  You may even have ordered a few.  The whole thing was very seductive.  If you called right then, you could get the whole special deal.  (How do the sales people know when those advertisements are running really?)

Now, I’ve been reading The Budget Kit and a number of budgeting and personal-finance-related blogs lately, there’s a big focus on differentiating needs from wants, and a bigger focus on restricting the purchasing of wants or prioritizing them, especially when you are in financial trouble. So…I took some agonizing time to consider whether It was a need or a want. Clearly, It isn’t required to sustain my life — It isn’t food, water, medicine, air, shelter, wood for heat…Therefore, It is not a need.

Thus, It is a want.

Having divined this truth, since I am attempting to spend as little unnecessary money as possible, to straighten out my finances, to get back on track, I did not make the purchase. I agonizingly did the right thing. Non-spendoholics must not even have to think about such choices. They just know and do the right thing and there’s no residual disappointment.

Unfortunately for me, my new little frugal angel and my old spendoholic devil manifested themselves last night as I slept. I spent the night dreaming that I was arguing all night with my mother about whether or not she would allow me to buy It; she kept insisting that no one needs an It, but I argued that she used to encourage me to get one when I was a teenager and I had a perfectly good one in my 20′s that wore out. This It is better.

The whole thing has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I hope it will get easier.

The Eat-Only-What’s-In-My-Pantry-For-A-Month Diet

Yesterday, I mentioned my “Eat Only What’s In My Pantry For A Month” diet.  I sort of invented this diet in my late 20′s, after-college, starving under-paid programmer years.  I’m quite sure there are many variations of this diet around and they probably have more or less inventive names.

Back in December when I was starting the paperwork to attempt to refinance my house, before the emergency surgery interrupted, I talked to my shrink about my options should the refinancing fall through.  I brought up this memory of one July back in my younger years, admittedly when I was healthier and more socially active, that I quite literally brought a random can of something every day to work for lunch; it would be “Oh, looks like I’m having beets today!” or “Hmmm, green beans!”  I ate dry toast every morning and at least once or twice every weekend, a friend’s mom would feed me and I was not ashamed.  I only spent money on rent, utilities, and gas.  I had less than $10 in cash in my purse the whole month and I believe I managed to end up with at least $5 of it.

I used to think once you got beyond 35 years old, you couldn’t live like that anymore.  I always get a laugh when I tell people that one of my favorite memories in college is going to Krispee Kreme at 3am after the midnight movie when the “hot now” sign is flashing and buying one donut but not having enough cash to pay for it so I had to write a check…and worrying that it would bounce before my monthly allowance check deposited.  You can only really get away with that in college, right?  I mean, try explaining that kind of expense as a 38 year old.

So, here we are on Feb. 2nd and I have begun my “pantry” diet.  It’s going to be hard because I’m going to be out of candy and chips really soon. ;)  I can make my own soy milk and soy yogurt — I have a stockpile of soy beans for some reason.  I have a lot of rice and couscous and frozen fruit, some granola.  I’m sure I have some oatmeal, canned beets, and green beans.  There’s a bean soup mix in there and a few bags of frozen veggies.  I even have the things I need to make a rather dull pot of spaghetti.  I think if I plan things out, I can make it through 26-ish days of February.

I just feel a little too old to be doing all of this…and I sure wish I’d stockpiled more chocolate bars before January ended. :P