Dollar-less January

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.



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