I spent the first week of January lusting after a beautiful bike in my local bike shop. It truly was a work of art, fit me perfectly, and was like a belated Christmas gift, all wrapped up in carbon just for me. With a big bow on top. Well, I assume that if I asked really nicely, they’d put a bow on it for me.
I wanted it. Really really REALLY wanted it. Dream-about-it wanted it. And had essentially made up my mind to get it. Sure, it wasn’t the best time — I was originally going to wait for either my tax return or my yearly bonus to come through — but it was such a Great Deal. And the lure of the Great Deal, especially when associated with this thing of carbon beauty, was irresistible.
I had one last thing to do before bringing her home — the test ride. The day had warmed up beautifully, just for me (a balmy 35 degrees!), and I was packed and ready to go out to the bike shop to take care of this last detail. And then, my world as I had known it, imploded.
I decided – for no reason that made any sense to me – not to get the bike. In fact, not to even go to the store to test ride it. In a sudden burst of practicality, I decided that I didn’t NEED a new bike.
Without any warning whatsoever, I had turned into… into… my parents. *gasp* How could this have happened?
Perhaps the price tag passed a certain threshold. Maybe it was knowing that it wouldn’t be just the bike – it’d be the bike and pedals and shoes and cool gear and possibly some race wheels… once I got started, I wasn’t sure where it would end.
Maybe – somewhere along the line – I became an adult?
In the end, I opted to just kind of roll with this sudden onslaught of frugality. Not analyze it too much, just move on (plus, it doesn’t look cool to be crying over a bike you never even owned). And then I got another idea: maybe I would spend the month of January not buying even one thing that I didn’t need?
Of course, with that said, I know that all I’m doing is pushing off all these things until February (lord help me!). But, it’s still an interesting experiment for me. Being single and child-free, I’m lucky enough to have a certain amount of income left over every month after paying the mortgage, keeping utilities turned on, funding my retirement and paying off exorbinant library late fees (there are times when I really do think the librarians are going to come and repossess my car because I’m so delinquint!). Which means that I can be a little frivolous in my spending habits.
So – from frivolous to frugal in the snap of a fingers. Easy schmeasy.
The month is about halfway through, and I’ve learned a few things about myself. Not only am I impulsive (actually, this part I already knew), but a lot of my disposable income is spent trying out new stuff, or buying items that have piqued my curiousity. Case in point: my massage place has recently begun offering hypnosis sessions. They bill them as kind of a cross between a serious stress-reliever, and using them to implant positive affirmations in your subconscious. Sounds totally cool to me, and I’d really like to try it out… but I suppose that’ll have to wait until February.
Another want that’s been in the back of my head for awhile (excuse me for a moment while I blashpheme): I’d love to try out a MacBook. Yes, I know – I’m a staunch PC user – always have been, possibly always will be – but I’ve got to admit that I’d love to get my hands on one and take it for a spin, see if the commercials with the cool, hip Mac dude are right. But this want falls into the category of “it can wait”. I’ve held back for awhile, and figure I can probably be good until the urge passes.
I guess what I’m trying to figure out with this experiment is how much of my buying is nothing but impulsive – that if I wait awhile, I’ll see how silly it would have been to get it (you know, like the MacBook. Heehee!). Since I don’t always have to rein in my spending, I’m finding that having a self-imposed waiting period to buy something could be very useful – save me money in the long run. Like – the hypnosis sessions? The more I think about it, the more I really want to try it. The MacBook? Not as enthused about spending all that money just to try something out, especially when Windows 7 is now in beta and I can play with that instead.
I’m going to try and keep the Waiting Period theory around even past January. Seems a reasonable, practical thing to do. Maybe implement other measures: for every piece of clothing/gear bought, something old has to go. Or even refuse to buy anything new for awhile… if there’s something I need, see if I can find it on eBay or Craigslist instead. I mean, if I’ve gone through the hassle of refinancing my mortgage (did you know you can get a 30 year loan at around 5% these days?) and going to a cheaper gym to save money (who needs towel service?), why not take it further? Make it a game, see how much money I can save.
You know, I’ve always wanted to retire by the time I was 50. I want to travel and do all sorts of things that I don’t really have time for now. It’s the same with being able to reach so many worthwhile goals — it all involves sacrificing short-term pleasure for long-term happiness. Especially when the short-term pleasure turns out to be something I can live without anyway. Quite a concept.