Oh, yeah. Not supposed to talk about that word.
So we'll get to the good news.
The first full week in January Oprah had a series called "Live Your Best Life," which she is continuing off and on through 2009. I got to see a couple of episodes of the series because I was off that week (ah, the good old days)--one episode was about money, and one was about sex. Yep, I know what's important. ;)
The one about money, of course, was with Suze Orman. Orman has this great vision of the world--save, save, save. I would hate to think what small businesses think of her--even though I love her I imagine that her idea of rarely spending money makes those of us trying to boost the economy cringe a little. Another thing that never set well before with me regarding Suze is the idea that SHE CHARGES MONEY FOR HER BOOKS. So, I have a hard time comprehending--you're supposed to spend money that you were supposed to save to buy her book? Seemed a bit off.
Still, occasionally I find ribbons of knowledge that I can take away with me, and this year, for 2009, Suze offered up two great tools on the Oprah show: she wrote a free, downloadable book for a financial plan for us for 2009 (get this--if you don't have a computer you can BUY it at Wal-Mart for $9.99...sigh...) AND she offered up a three-part treatise for what to do in 2009 to get started on your financial success. Here is the treatise...Pay attention, grasshopper:
- For one day, do not spend any money
- For one week, don't use any credit cards
- For one month, don't eat out in restaurants, cafes, etc.
Ladies and gentlemen, I've managed the first two.
(Also, keep in mind that I haven't spent money with a CREDIT card since December. I use my debit card all the time, but that, in my humble opinion, doesn't count--it's my money, not borrowing, and abandoning the cc's for a week is Suze's way of stopping the borrowing cycle for a week, and maybe starting a good habit.)
Believe or not, I finally got the opportunity to not spend any money for one day yesterday, on the first day of the New World. I was very tempted to even get cash from the ATM to be prepared for today...but no dice. I stayed firm. Breakfast was packed and eaten at the train stop...two mini whole wheat bagels, a thermos of skim milk, and a fresh/ripe banana. Lunch was packed and eaten at work in our conference room where I wouldn't be found...peppered turkey breast sandwich on whole wheat bread with roasted bell peppers, sunflower sprouts, fresh spinach, mustard, a side of carrots and honeycrisp apple, and more milk in another thermos, cold. Dinner was a bowl of whole grain cereal and a cup of nonfat organic yogurt. My God. I AM most definitely Californian.
Ah, you say, but Jo, aren't you the queen of public transit? Don't you take not one but THREE forms of public transportation? Indeed. The Muni pass is paid for on the last day of the previous month. The BART fastpass is paid about twice a month. And the AC Transit card is paid the same way. Yesterday I missed the BART and AC Transit billings in my direct bill--they were falling on different days this month.
It's like a fantastic game! That last part of the treatise though...whew. That may not happen. Wednesdays, due to packing the Piccolo, I don't plan to pack a lunch. (Hoofing it gets a bit ridiculous when you pack more than two bags--you start to look homeless.) On writing group nights I usually eat out because packing a lunch and a dinner again overloads the shoulders. But for the other days of the week? Oh, hell yeah. I would have never guessed how good I feel in two ways--I'm getting better calories (not the empty ones laced with a lot of sodium), and I'm not spending as much money. What was once avoided because it took too much time is now done as a love song to myself. Even the care of packing the lunch becomes a meditation. The tiny Sigg of milk is colder than a witch's wine. The bright red of the black-flecked peppers is delightful against the green of the spinach and the yellow coarse ground mustard. I start to swoon, taking care of myself.
AND it costs less.
As to the credit card thing, I should have the last of the crappy unemployment debt paid off by April of this year, which is a relief. Occasionally the cards will come out--for flights/rental cars/things that won't take debit cards because of the way debit cards bill--but for the most part I am looking forward to being debt free (well, excepting the student loans, but those are ever eternal, since students don't get a bail-out) after that point.
But no restaurants...sheesh, Suze, I live in FREAKIN' SAN FRANCISCO...and I watch Check, Please! Bay Area...so that last one isn't likely to happen. Instead, I try to do that goal one day at a time, allowing for more days where I don't eat out than days where I do. And I'm much better at it. Most of the time now when I go out it's to go up Moraga, or walk around the Park, or hit up the deYoung. The deYoung I already have a membership for, and I can write on a bench there, or sit in the lounge with a thermos on quiet mornings. And it's not so much a withdrawal...stopping myself from spending as a form of punishment...oh, no...
When I got my vacation pay, the pay that was supposed to be vacation TIME, I got an extra 1300.00 on my paycheck, and I kept half of that and paid off bills with the rest. When I get my tax refund, half that will go to another bill or bills, and the other half put to me for spending or saving, depending on the moment's need. I always need new workpants/socks/etc--working in a warehouse forces one to wear Dickies (which would make me look like a bigger lesbian than I already am not) or to buy new more often. Or there may be something that catches my eye to wear on the weekends to hopefully dazzle some rich writer/intellectual who will ask me out. One can never tell. I use moderation though. I know if I have 1800 bags. I know when I look at wallets it ain't happenin'. In fact, I see no real need to buy anymore books until at LEAST 2010. If I need to read it and I don't have it, then I think it needs to come from the library. Time to clean up some tomes, use the bags I have, and stop buying 'cause I feel "nervous" or anxious.
As Sarah Ban Breathnach, of my mother's devotional fame, would say, "All I have is all I need."
I know...I sound like a goodie two-shoes. But I didn't like having the books and magazines stack up. I didn't like the woman who needed just a little something from the paper or the book or the bag stores to feel whole. I would prefer being a woman who gets off on hiking up the hill at sunset and being greeted by a strange dog with joy or visiting with a kid on the train who is in awe of the Kindle. The little girl couldn't even read the words yet. But oooohhhh, flip the "page" again, please ma'am. I'm a magician.
A magician with my own loaves and fishes to divide. Sort of a Unitarian pun, but you ain't going to find it just anywhere.
Equal measure of spend and save. Not sure I would ever be able to hoard it ALL...
Maybe next time I'll write about the sex show Oprah had. ;)