Sunday, September 20, 2009

Voluntary Simplicity?

Why does it feel so good to be cheap? Today I put a ham and bean soup in the crockpot to cook while we were at church. At lunchtime, as we sat around breathing the steam and eating our fill, I kept experiencing this strange sensation of fulfillment. I tried to pinpoint exactly what it was that was making feel such a glow. Having the whole family together at the dinner table? My semi-successful day at church with the children I work with? The fact that I actually planned a meal in advance? No - it turns out that the root of my feelings came from feeling really good about getting every last bit of meat off of that ham slab I bought last week. I realized I was mentally adding up the cost of the meal for my family of 6, and let me just say - 5 Dollar Dinner lady? Not so impressive anymore, are you?

I recently read an article about the exploits of a family that decided to stop shopping for a year. They vowed to only buy depletable resources such as groceries and gasoline, and forego absolutely all unnecessary purchases. They claim to have saved over $10,000 in one year. Sounds pretty good right? Well, here's how they saved that much money, and how you and I could too:

First, they opted NOT to buy a flat screen TV that year. So, if you were planning on doing that this year, just change your mind and watch your savings rack up!

Second, they stopped eating out at restaurants. That's going to be a little hard for me to do, because unless you count Sonic as a restaurant, I can't remember the last time I went to one. I think it was my company's Christmas party last December. Of course, the wife in the article didn't find it that hard to give up eating out, because her husband decided to start doing all of the cooking, and apparently he's pretty good. I'll say.

Finally, they quit buying clothes at The Gap and Macy's, saving a couple thousand that way. I guess I could stop dreaming about shopping at the Gap and see if that helps at all.

What helped this poor family survive the year? Well, mostly presents and gift cards from friends and family who couldn't bear to see their suffering.

Okay, that last bit may have sounded a little catty. I'm just saying, it's all well and good for a pair of dual-income doctor/lawyers to cut back a little, and then make a bunch of money by writing about it and going on Oprah. But what I'd really like to see is an article about someone who surmounts some actual problems. Let's read about the single mom with $15 in her pocket trying to buy a week's groceries for her family of five. Or how about a family that has to choose between picking up a prescription or paying the heating bill? How about all those people working three part-time jobs trying to get by when their unemployment runs out and they still haven't found a job to replace the one they lost? These people I could actually learn something from.

And I have a suggestion for them, too, like a filling dinner of ham and bean soup. Warms the tummy, warms the soul... (and can stretch for two meals if you double the amount of water you use).


Connie said...

Way to go, Lecia.. I love the feeling of not wasting- and stretching my dollars. It does feel good, doesn't it.

lol- the stuff about the Gap. lol

Signe said...

I wish I had been there. I love bean soup. I know what you mean too. I made some bean soup about two years ago and finally threw away the leftovers I had in the freezer last week. I decided if I hadn't eaten it by now-it probably wasn't going to happen.

PS: I click on your blog almost every day. I'm hoping to make the Utah dot bigger than any other on your map!

Anita said...

This post is the first post I've read at your blog, and I must say - I like the way you think :) Great post... I'll be back!