Tuesday, May 25, 2010

about the spending freeze

Some of you have been asking about my little spending freeze. Quite simply, I'm "freezing" all my personal spending for the next year or two while we pay off debt. After reading this book I realized that it is very silly for me to be spending money on all the odds and ends I normally like to spend money on (clothes, shoes, pretty things from Etsy, and especially books) when we have debt hanging over us (from our car and some home improvement type things). So I'm going cold turkey. I'm really just targeting my personal spending--at this point we're still spending a lot on food, a little on entertainment (Faith and I just saw Babies this weekend), and of course I can buy new shoes for the boys when they need them and that sort of thing.

I have all sorts of thoughts about this spending freeze. I see this two year period as a time for personal growth as I figure out questions like why, when I spend so much on clothes, do I so often have "nothing to wear"? And what's the deal with buying all those books? Mostly I see myself settling in more, enjoying and appreciating all that I have, and not constantly striving for the next thing. I'm not terribly materialistic and I hope I don't sound so, but maybe you know what I mean--you see a book or shoe or gift on someone else's blog and you want that thing. For now, I'm opting out of all of that. It feels good, and it certainly gives me a chance to be more resourceful and creative, which I like.

And also--would you like to hear my opinion about Babies? It was cute, very cute, but I thought it would be so much more! There are so many questions that I have and that I thought would be addressed more--more cultural comparisons, contrasts and explorations. For instance, when do the babies start solid foods?, What do their mothers' feed them? Do any of the babies follow a schedule? What do they do all day? And where do they sleep? And what about diapering? The African baby doesn't wear diapers, so how does that system work? I just wish more of that was shown or explored somehow. My favorite moment of the film: when the Mongolian baby is being readied to go home the nurse in the hospital swaddles him so tightly! (In a very pretty swaddling cloth, by the way). The mother then has to get up on the family motorcycle, holding the newborn in his really tight swaddle, by herself with no help from dad, who is already on the motorcycle and has the motor running! She manages to get on and off they ride across the tundra. Loved that.

30 comments:

nicole said...

bravo on your spending freeze..i try and immediately fall off the wagon.
babies was fun to watch but i had similar questions as you.

(lia) said...

I had hoped for more comparisons in Babies as well. The scene you mentioned with the motorcycle stuck out to me too... mostly because later you see that the family also has a jeep. Why didn't the dad bring THAT to pick up mom & newborn??? So funny. It seemed like the Mongolian kid was ALWAYS alone or with that horrible older brother of his. Poor baby. :)

ElleMama said...

Hi Mary-Beth, I have been enjoying your blog for some time now. Your entries almost always touch me in some way, and our views seem to be quite similar. I totally agree with your thought on materialism... I own so many clothes yet I still want more. I have put myself on a spending diet too, and it took some adjusting but I am really getting used to it.
Thanks for sharing your life and ideas, it is always a pleasure to read your blog. Hope you don't mind that I linked you on mine and might even quote you sometimes!

Ellemama.
http://ellemama.blogspot.com/

Andrea said...

I did a "buy nothing year" the year before last (wow has it been that long?) and it was really nice--not nearly as hard as I had anticipated and it spurred a lot of creativity in terms of coming up with birthday presents and things like that. Last year I think I got a little carried away in the other direction--buying books is also my downfall!--but now I'm trying to find the happy medium between not buying everything you see or want, making stuff, making do, using thrift stores and consignment shops, and buying myself or my kids something nice once in a while. Not sure if I'm there yet, but I haven't been in a Gap or Old Navy in almost two years and don't miss it! I really think about the chemicals, environmental degradation and working conditions for the people who make things so much more now than I did before, and it stops a lot of purchases before they happen. Good luck with your freeze!

Little Island In The Med said...

I applaud you spending freeze, you don't have to have debt for it to be a great idea. I agree about books, but my weakness is fabric...

Rain said...

Thank you for sharing more about your spending freeze. You bring up many points that I've been contemplating as well. Does your spending freeze include (gasp) thrift shops? I'm trying to use & enjoy what I have rather than just buying more. I'm also trying to wait longer for what I want. This week I went to a friends house and brought home a dozen raspberry bushes from her over-abundant garden. I couldn't help thinking how each plant would have set me back at least $12 per plant.

Jessica said...

I'm on a little spending freeze myself. I saw babies the other night and thought the same exact thing--when I left I made very similar comments!!!

Meg said...

Thanks for sharing about your spending freeze--I had been wondering about that. Books used to be a big spending category for me, too. We used to go into Costco and I'd put two or three books into the cart without thinking. And these books would either be read in a few weeks and then just crowd the already-full bookcase, or I'd never get around to reading them!

Last year my husband was unemployed for five months because his company closed its doors, and since then he's had a job with a substantially lower salary, so we've had to significantly curtail spending. Next week he starts a new job with a much higher salary, and I find myself trying not to fall back into the cycle of mindless spending--just because we can. After nearly a year of not getting any new clothes, I feel like I'm about to go overboard on the shopping--really, how many new shirts does one person need? The trick is to find a balance--and it seems that the key to finding the balance is mindfulness!

I do want to see Babies, but will probably wait until it's in the redbox!

Mary Beth said...

Thanks, everyone, for your kind and supportive comments.

Rain--I do allow myself a small allowance for thrifting. I hardly ever have time to go into a thrift store so I don't think it will be a "problem" for me (and I will stick to my allowance :))

Jodi Anderson said...

Good for you for participating in a spending freeze. I'm doing something similar myself. For years, the money has been there so we bought whatever we needed. Then, this last few months, I began to realize that it felt binding... all this stuff, so much of it not used, etc. So, I've been adjusting what we spend and only purchasing necessities, especially for our 17-year-old daughter. (Fortunately, she prefers vintage clothing and shopping at thrift stores.) I think that instead of this being difficult, it is very freeing. We have everything that we need. Actually, more than we need so I'm continually purging too.

Ah, I can breathe deeper now, I swear. :)

Kelly and Kelly said...

I really want to see that movie, thanks for the review. And also, I'm interested to hear more about your no spending journey as it continues.

donnav said...

Mary Beth,

Thank you so much for your lovely blog. I have been reading for years but have never commented. (It feels strange to comment when I don't have a blog of my own). I have recently stopped visiting many of my favorite blogs just because of the constant parade of cool "stuff" that I would find myself wanting to have. Your blog is so refreshing and real and I love you for it. I am so inspired by you to use what I already have and find creative ways to enjoy simple pleasures. Thank you!

Maiz said...

Hooray for spending freeze! For me, that was an exercise full of lessons about what we really need and about my totally unnecessary (and usually unsatisfying) shopping habits.

Beth said...

eek, the thought of straddling a motorcycle over bumpy tundra after having just given birth? Ouch...

Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

Well, we were Ramsified nearly 5 years ago and it changed us in the best way. Good for you! We still have times (like now) where we just do a voluntary paring back...or an all-out freeze, for a period of time. I find myself contemplating many of the same things you mentioned AND I do find that I slow down and appreciate so much more.

Keep us posted on this!

And thanks for the Babies scoop. It is not playing anywhere around here and I'm so itchy to see it, especially since our babies came to us from over oceans. :)

Once Upon A Parent said...

Your thoughts/questions on spending are interesting. I think we are society of excessive excess. It is kind of disgusting and sad. What's more important quantity or quality?

Beth- the mama bee said...

We are Dave R people too. If you get a chance to take his class (many churches offer it), maybe you already have, it's really good.

Redbeet Mama said...

I am so with you on the spending freeze. Maybe one day I will blog my story on that.

Two years ago I went with the motto "The more you live without - the more you live within." It turned out to be so true.

Mary-Beth - you are always such an inspiration - and just the support that I need.

Much love, Nicole

erin said...

i found it interesting when i cut my personal spending recently, that there were so many times when we would need something to do and i'd immediately think of going to the store or somewhere else where you inevitably end up spending money. i really had to shift my thinking to come up with free ways to entertain us - and they were often way more fun (and didn't involve buyer's remorse, hooray!)

Carrie said...

My "No Spending Spree" as I've taken to calling it has fallen apart since I have to give the presentation in DC. Since my boss is going I have felt compelled to make sure I have everything just right. Today I bought a cute, white jacket, and (no laughing) another suitcase! This one is very small. It will hold the stuff I need for this conference and I can carry it on. (There are four of us going and no one else was checking their luggage.) Oh well, I'm still on...starting June 5th, after I'm back from DC!

Gwens.Mommi said...

TMM is awesome. It can be hard at times but so worth it!

3 M's said...

good for you on the spending freeze! I am on what I call a 'craft spending freeze'... no more yards of fabric just because, no more knitting/sewing/painting books.. and I'm doing it for the same reason as you :) good luck, hope it goes well! I've been going strong for a few months now.
I just realized this may be my first comment- hmm.. not intentionally a 'lurker'! :)

Rhythm of the Home said...

I love the spending freeze. We have been doing a lot of talking on that subject as well, and reading your post was very inspirational.
I was really surprised with Babaies as well. I had hear from Midwives and Doulas that it was just amazing, but I too thought that there would be more of a cross cultural and educational piece to the movie. Still cute though :)

~Heather said...

We've been on a tight budget the last few years and already paid off both car loans, one student loan and should be done with our final loan (mortgage doesn't count here!) by the end of 2011 at the latest.

With less money to spend on items, you might find you have a little more time as well. I don't go to Old Navy once a week anymore to check out their sales rack - now I have an hour at lunch once a week to exercise instead!

But it can be easy to give in now and again. If we find something we want, we try to figure out how we've survived without it so far and tend to realize we'll be 'Ok' without it after all!

Good luck

Denise C. said...

Thank you so much for sharing. A spending freeze is what I need. My biggest weakness- magazines.
The ones I like are $6.99 per issue. That really adds up.

My husband and I had to replace my SUV unexpectedly
in April, so we have a car payment again. A low one, but payment nonetheless.

Replenishing our savings needs to be high on my list of priorities.

I'm looking forward to hearing how your Happiness Project is coming along.

Have a great day!

howie mama said...

Good luck with your plan. I read the book also and loved it-it made so much sense! But, unlike you I have yet to put the plan into action-guess I'm not ready to do the work-lol!It has helped me think twice about my purchases though and credit!! Best of luck to you!! Stay strong ;*)

TeamMcDonough said...

I feel like I'm on a permanent spending spree being a stay at home mom it's a necessity. I use our library to stop me from spending on books and also check out movies for free. Have fun on your freeze :) It is another way to get your creative juices flowing :)

aly in va said...

The spending freeze is something I could use in my life as well. I must say that before I begin- I would have to go out and buy myself some general clothes as I havent' been shopping (except for maternity clothes by force) in about 2 years- I spend too much on eating out- that's our families weakness.

Kristen said...

I took Saya to see Babies. I really felt for the Mongolian mom having to take a bumpy motorcycle ride right after giving birth. I really applaud your spending freeze. I think I need something like that in my life. All the pretty stuff that we see online or in the stores that we think we need, of course we really don't. I have forced myself to complete stop buying clothes for my daughter. She has more than she will ever have a chance to wear.

ourdayourjourney said...

good for you. i had realized that i too was spending a lot of money on books and so i decided to check out the books at the local library first and then to buy second hand.