you’re holding my hand

When I started this project a mere four weeks ago, I pictured a completely different experience. I thought by now, surely, I’d be rocking back and forth in a corner, flipping through mail order catalogs and slyly clipping pictures for my “Buy Next September” stash. I doubted that I could really enjoy my year (this early on, anyway).

I assumed I’d blog about the money I saved every day. I planned on averaging out expenses from the same date over the past three years (meticulously tracked by Harv in Microsoft Excel), adding in what my shopaholic heart would have purchased, and posting the Grand Total of Savings in my daily report. I’d then juxtapose those embarrassingly high figures with the modest amount I did spend on personal necessities, husband and daughter related expenses (both are not on The Project, but they wish me the best of luck), and Monday Dare experiences. I feared I would whine constantly and feel bored.

Thank goodness even the best laid plans leave room for a different reality.

I find myself cataloguing all the marvelously funny and delightfully simple pleasures I ignored in my everyday life.

When I stopped spending needlessly, I gained time. So. Much. Time. Instead of obsessing about buying, I felt a sense of relief. I no longer worry about missing a sale altogether or waking up at the crack of dawn to be first in line for a sample sale. I don’t spend hours scouring store after store for shoes in my impossibly difficult size 4 1/2. I don’t throw magazines into my grocery cart while I’m standing in the check-out line. I usually end up tossing these magazines that same evening after reading them. Just a few plusses in a very long list.

It’s obvious to me that The Project is no longer just about the numbers.

I’m grateful for all the kind words of encouragement. My friends and family make this small project seem like a big hurrah. I’m surprised by (and thankful for) all the lovely notes and messages I’ve received from friends I’ve never met but know through common interests from the world wide web.

4 weeks down, 48 more to go. I’m looking forward to it…..really.

photo: Bonnie Tsang

Monday Dare: You’re worthless, but I still value you.

Every Monday, I’m picking from the List of Things to Try, Places to Go, Possible Acts that Help and Possible Fun to Have. It’s a list I made before The Project started and I’m still adding to it. If you have suggestions, please, feel free to throw them my way. I’m calling the list my Monday Dares, as I get overwhelmed just looking at the words “challenge” or “goal.”

This week: I will use my pennies.

We have a family secret. Every time my mind grazes over this one fact, I shudder a little. When I found out, I turned away in disgust. But, the compassionate side of me understood and we’ve worked through it.  He’s promised never to do it again.

My husband, Harv, threw away a jar of pennies.

In his defense, he worked 90-hour weeks at the time and he needed to pack an apartment-full of bachelor glory in just a few hours. He haphazardly threw some of it (his bachelorness, not the pennies) into cardboard boxes and the rest (deemed unworthy, unneeded or too weirdly shaped) found a new home in the garbage bin.

He claims that pennies are worthless.

Okay, I give him that. Sort of. If you manage to save them and not throw them away, you only have to collect 10,000 to equal a hundred dollar bill. I guess I do have a spare bathtub I could use as a penny collector.

I don’t use pennies because I’m a coward. Is it just me, or do cashiers really sneer when you start pulling pennies out of your wallet? This uppity attitude is unfortunate- if I don’t give the cashier my pennies during a cash transaction, he will probably be forced to give me some of his pennies. Should I sneer? How about just a soft hiss?

Damned be the dirty looks! I will use my pennies!

photo: Simon Howden