ON FRUGALITY (WEEK 1 RECAP)
February 12, 2015
I think a lot of people would argue that February is the most garbage month of them all in New York. (I actually think it’s March, but that’s because I’m an accountant.)
I usually try to make February even worse by abstaining from something I like (wine, dairy) just to see if I can. I feel like this year I have all my food and drink ducks in a row, so I’ve decided to team up with my gal pal Nora Wolf this year on what she calls “Month of Austerity” and on what i’m calling “FRUGAL FEBRUARY” because I like alliteration.
Here is Nora and me with our pups and her boo this New Year’s Eve!
(AMAZING ASIDE THEY MET AT MY CHRISTMAS PARTY LAST YEAR).
Basic rule: Don’t buy anything other than cook-at-home food. No booze or meals out (unless it’s for work). No clothes. No makeup. No cabs. (We both are taking exceptions for special occasions. Nora: ski trip. Me: Dad’s birthday).
Since this whole thing was Nora’s doing I asked her a little bit about her history with Month of Austerity and what it means to her, and I think that a lot of the things she pointed out as the benefits of taking a spending break are really true for me as well.
1. Choice Fatigue – “I remember when I was not making much money and trying to scrape by after college and there was a certain freedom from decision making. Should I get those pants? How many dinners out can I take this month? (During month of austerity) the answer was always no, none, you cannot do any of those things. I didn’t have to think about it.”
YES. Budgeting is goddamned exhausting. It’s really nice to just shut all that off for 28 days.
2. Clothes Horse – Nora has one of the best best closets/shoe collections of anyone I know. She says Month of Austerity helps her cull that collection, “No new clothes, and I usually purge some pieces from the closet for resale or giveaway.” I am SERIOUSLY in need of new clothes, but giving myself this month to really figure out what I want/need keeps me from impulse buying 10 new fringed kimonos. I’m also having a clothing swap at my house this weekend to see if I can get any must haves for freesie, and i’ll be able to get rid of a huge bag of awesome togs to babes I personally know so I know they’re going to a loving home.
3. In/Out – I think I am for sure more of a homebody than Nora. She is really good at finding the best dance parties/square dances/art things to go to. But she lets February be a down time for her, “I don’t eat out so I have more people over for homemade meals. When I saw dating I usually took a break from dating.” I definitely have been cooking at home so much more. I lapsed a little this week for a couple perfect beers out this week with a friend, but then had her back to my place for homemade meatballs, so that balances out. I have been on dating hiatus for a while, so i’ll just keep using Frugal February as an excuse!
Here’s what I bought last week that was outside of my weekly public transport budget and weekly grocery shop budget which i’ve bumped up to $75 because i’m cooking 90% of my meals at home!
$20 – African Dance Class
$1.50 – Can of Black Beans for “I’m sad I didn’t eat Super Bowl snacks yesterday” homemade nachos
Literally nothing! NO DOLLARS.
$12.55 – I forgot my homemade lunch on the counter. This got me a pretty good bowl of rice, tandoori chicken, and spicy braised greens.
$15.00 in Quarters – Laundry. Having to pay to do the chore you hate the most is the crummiest.
$3.00 – Iced Coffee. I know i’m not supposed to buy coffee but it felt comparatively warm this morning and I really wanted this.
$11 – A dozen Peter Pan donuts for a staff meeting. You’re welcome.
$30 via Venmo -To my little brother for gas and tolls to pick me up from my office and take me to NJ. This is somehow cheaper than a round-trip bus ticket, and I can bring back a bunch of heavy seltzer right to my Brooklyn door and he has big speakers so we can listen to a lot of hip hop very loud.
$13 – Coffees for my fam because I was up first.
$45 – Wine for my dad’s birthday after-party
$25 – This amazing steak.
Sunday: ZIP. Zero dollars.
That’s $176.05, which feels pretty good. BUT I want to just check my privilege for a minute and note that that’s still a fair amount of discretionary spending.