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Week 3 – Prologue: Making it Hurt

It’s taken me a while to write this update as I’ve been busy, but it’s certainly not for lack of things to say.

First, I’ve been overjoyed at the response to the blog.  Today I received an email from the good folks at RedirectGuide saying that their staff was inspired by SansLux and they’ve decided to join in by doing the challenge at their office as well.  This week their entire staff is giving up sugar and all sweeteners save for fruit juice. They’ll be writing up a guest blog about their experience which I will post next week. Fun!

I also received a sweet card in the mail from my mortgage broker who read about the challenge on Facebook and wanted to drop me a note of encouragement, and a sweet series of text messages from friends.  My roommate has also decided to join in on some of the challenges.  He’s sort of involuntarily had to (re: giving up cable) and has taken it supportively in stride.

It’s exciting to me that this challenge is encouraging others to think about things differently and to join in.  I hope others will follow suit and let me know as well.  I’ll be happy to provide a link to anyone else who decides to blog about similar challenges. Just let me know!

As for me and my horse, last week proved interesting in a number of ways.

First — I actually had a great deal of fun, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that.  The truth of the matter is, fortuitously, I am not broke right now.  And while I’ve spent far more of my life broke than not,  it’s still genuinely impossible to recreate the actual stress of being strapped for cash when you know that it’s temporary.  I am choosing not to spend right now, and because of that, it’s easier not to.  I know if I need something, I just have to wait a bit and then I can get it. The fun of that stops when you remove the choice from the equation.  So I can’t authentically experience the genuine level of stress that not having the option to have what I need would create.  But I can make it hurt a little more than it did.

So I’ve decided that, instead of taking on a new challenge this week, I am going to extend my no-spend period for another week.  I stocked up on basic provisions and I will pay household bills – but no frills. Nothing extra.

What I have learned so far is that I have a great many spending impulses that, on an average day, I don’t generally fight.  I find that it’s not all that difficult to fight them if I stop and think about it, and that doing so is often more rewarding.

Last week, instead of going out to eat, I cooked for friends.  Instead of going to movies, I had a craft night that was fun and creative.  Instead of spending money in clubs, I had a game night and got my ass trounced at Scrabble.  Instead of going shopping, I went to a clothing exchange with friends where we all traded clothes we didn’t wear anymore and everyone came away with something new without spending a dime.  I spent quality time with friends and family and I didn’t spend a single penny.  It was fulfilling and joyful and connective and I actually liked it a great deal more than usual.   Again, the removal of the choice to do anything else for an extended period of time would make that less fun.  But it’s a good reminder to me not to be lazy and throw money at entertainment instead of making my own as a general rule.

This week will pose some interesting challenges.  It already has, to some degree, and I’ve already committed to breaking my no-spend rule as an exception where it’s impacting someone else negatively.

As someone who works two full-time jobs and has myriad marketing duties on top to help grow her fledgling start-up, I don’t have a lot of time to spend on the mundane details of my life, like deep-cleaning my house.  I have a friend who is forging her own path as a house cleaner and we’ve had a standing date for her to do a deep-clean on my house once a month.  Her original date fell last week and I asked her to push it off another week. That was fine, but when I asked again this week, it became clear that it would be a hardship on her financially.

I’ve struggled for a long time with classism issues around having someone else clean my house and it’s taken me ages to be comfortable with it.  The only way I really find myself able to not be ashamed of this is by understanding that paying her for this help is allowing her to live her life the way she wants to, outside the corporate structure and working her own schedule.  To me, that’s important to support, and it helps me do the same.  But it is definitely a luxury for me.  However, having the work is not as expendable for her.  It’s an interesting position to be in — realizing how interdependent we all are, and how one of us in a community not having money can cause a ripple effect in the lives of those around us.  I am going to keep our date this week so my project doesn’t hurt her, but thinking about what would happen if I genuinely couldn’t support her that way is rough.

As well, this week there are birthday parties and client meetings and conferences, all of which would normally find me spending money.  I will have to be creative in my gift-giving, and am not entirely sure how I’m going to manage transportation to the conference.  I would either have to pay to park my car, or take public transit, which is not free either.  It’s a conundrum. Granted, since this is a work gig, I can fudge it a bit because I will be reimbursed — but it’s a gray area that I have to think about a little.

So – this week’s theme is: Making it Hurt.  We can survive anything for a week.  So I’m pushing myself a little harder on this one.

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  • SansLux.com is an exploration of luxury and necessity. Each week I will give up one item or habit & blog about my experience.