Friday, March 2, 2007

Death of Superfluity

I read an article from a tattered magazine in one of the waiting rooms I visited this week. It was inspired. The piece dealt with a single mother in New York who survives on an income of just over $12,000 a year. With a little over $1,000 a month, this woman is raising her 12-year old daughter with no assistance from anyone - husband, government, parents... no one. And you know what? They are happy. The mother and daughter poke around parks and free exhibits. They sing together at church and cackle over rented library movies. They volunteer together. These women are thriving, really, without the help of fat paychecks and MP3 cell phones. They are content.

As I said, the article was inspired....

... which is why, I must announce, the month of March is now officially known as the Death of Superfluity at Freeman House.

I cut out of one of my brother's excruciatingly long medical consultations this week and headed to Lowe's. It was a beautiful, brilliant day, and the gardening department was calling to me. I loaded up my cart with thornless blackberries and herbs and lavender and a pink hydrangea. I barely batted an eye when the cashier rattled off some crazy total.

Then the electric bill came. My knees nearly buckled when the mid-January/early-February bill came to $478.32. I wrote the check.

It wasn't until I was fueling up the Jeep SUV yesterday, checking the internet on my MP3 cell phone, that I realized: this is ridiculous. I am ridiculous. I am superfluity. I am ashamed.

I decided right then that March would be the sudden stop ... the death... of my superfluity ways.

You could argue that it was just exhaustion, stress, or the emotions of the week. Of course, you could also argue that Monday's Texas State Attorney General's ruling ... the one that shut down my line of business for two days... also affected my decision. It could also be said that the shock of seeing my brother almost pulverized violently realigned my priorities. Maybe, maybe, and maybe. The truth is, every life needs a little balance, and reading that article was a wake-up call.

So when I got home late last night, the heaters were turned down. The night lights in rooms I never even go in came out. Lists were made to radically downsize my cell phone plan, consign some clothes, and find my library card. Extraneous spending on all non-essential, superfluity magazines, books, coffee beverages, internet purchases, crafting supplies and cooking stuffs was halted until further notice. I'm not handing over a penny this March without carefully considering it first. I will read books I already have. I will finish all half-completed, half-knitted projects. I will work in the garden instead of buying and watching movies. I will curtail all eating out. I will enjoy the things I have instead of constantly buying, dreaming of, or planning for more. Superfluity is dead.

Of course, these are very easy changes to make. Especially since I'm single and my spending affects no one else....

... or does it?

It occurred to me that the money I save could be rerouted to causes I care about. To my local animal shelter. To a scholarship fund at an alma mater I'm proud to pieces of. To a church who's reaching out to help all sorts of folks. To my now-medical-bill-ridden family. And maybe... just maybe... I could also scrape enough savings together to finally do that Europe on the cheap trip I've always dreamed about....

Yeppers. This March is going to be fun. I'm actually making a game of it... to see how little I can spend and how much I could possibly give. And save. It excites me to think of how reforming and re-channeling my superfluity ways could bring about a powerful and positive change in my life.

Sure, maybe it's been the stress of the week. But I doubt it. The death of superfluity is here to stay for awhile. So don't be surprised to find yourself feasting on home cooked beans, fried potatoes, cornbread, and iced tea if you stop by. And expect to get homemade cards and something from my kitchen, garden, or quilting/knitting basket for your birthday. Death to superfluity girl is here to stay....

(Have a fantastically fun weekend! -B)


Amber said...

Good for you!

I have done the same thing. My husband quit smoking, I quit getting my nails done, etc.

I so like the feeling of giving that to others rather that doing for myself. It gives you a really good feeling to see the joy that it brings to other lives who are in need. (Like my volunteer work on the car show that my car club is putting on in March to pay for burned children to go to summer camp for free!)

I will let you know how all of that goes, if you don't come take pictures for yourself.


Marce said...

That´s a great approach that I´m sure will give you many satisfactions. It might be hard to stick to it at time, but it´ll be worth it... especially cutting down on that electricity bill, yikes! I spend 50 pesos every two months with air conditioner and all (of course, my house must be the size of 1 of your rooms at Freeman house hahaha).

Anonymous said...

I'd love to read the details, the pleasures and frustrations in your new frugality journey, over the coming weeks. Perhaps you can chronicle it for us. Please do!