Friday, July 29, 2011

My frugality project

I'm always looking for a project or experiment.  My South Beach project, my Old Lady project, my Wen experiment (which by the way is working out great IF I don't use it.  Ha!  If I use Wen every day, my hair looks at me like Droopy Dog.  


It makes my hair TOO soft, too silky to hold a style.  Oh, it looks fine, it just won't hold body or curl.  If I use it a couple of times a week, it's great.  It's just enough conditioning to keep down the frizzies and combined with some volumizing shampoo, we've gotten to be good friends.).

So I've been thinking a lot this week about another project.  An experiment in frugality.  One of my friends on Facebook posted a question this week, "How long could you go without spending any money?"  Except for necessities: gas, groceries, medicine, bills.

I got to thinking about that and thought it'd be fun to try it.  I've been at home this week, cleaning my house and doing yardwork, watching movies, cooking and reading and guess what??  Aside from my $7.50 movie ticket today, I spent NO money.

I am already a million times more frugal than I used to be.  I try to reuse everything, make do with what I have and if I bring something into my house, I try to get rid of something.  Give it away, usually.  But I wasn't always this way.  Seven years ago, I set out to live a simpler life.  To live with less.  And I have never been happier.  Less truly is more.

I'll be honest, having your husband in prison causes a woman to find other ways to fill that void.  Even though I have never had Larry home with me, his absence is a canyon-sized void in our home.  When I was much younger and having a much harder time with our situation, I tried to fill that void with shopping.  I became a compulsive shopper, an excessive spender.  And guess what?  Most of that spending was of the plastic kind.  I was spending money I had not even earned yet.

I was 23 when Larry was transferred to Walker County, up near the Tennessee line and I drove the 242 miles one way every weekend to see him.  On my way home through Atlanta, there were two malls that called out to me.  Those of you who knew me back then know that I had the clothes!  I had the shoes!  I had the expensive pocketbooks and I had the entire line of Clinique makeup!  I used nothing but Clinique.  I had the $60 perfumes, too.  The ones that made Larry's nose run and his eyes water.  A complete waste of plastic there.  Ha!

I never wore the same thing twice to see Larry.  And before I knew it, I was in a hole.  I had thirteen (13!) maxed-out credit cards.  I was nearly $20,000 in credit card debt.  I was drowning in it.  I would pay my $200 credit card payments then go charge another $200-$300.  I never filed bankruptcy but I did seek help from Consumer Credit Counseling and maintained my excellent credit score.  But it was hard.  It was really, really hard.  I worked in credit, as you all know, and I could not let my credit score suffer.  How could I advise someone about his/her payment when I couldn't even manage my own?  I couldn't.  So I lived at home much longer than I should have.

I finally bought a house I could afford.  Well, kinda.  I brought all that debt with me.  Since then, I've been blessed with a few windfalls that have gotten me completely out of debt except for my car.  No mortgage and no credit card debt.  I have learned my lesson.  No more charging.  No more buying things just for the sake of buying them.  I can't stand clutter anyway. 

And I really can't stand shopping anymore either.  It feels like such a chore when I need new clothes (my South Beach project, wooo hooooo!) or if I need to buy a present for somebody. 

So this frugality project of mine shouldn't be all that hard.  I'm starting Monday, August 1st, and I will go as long as I possibly can without spending any money needlessly.  NO clothes.  NO shampoo.  NO makeup.  NO soaps and body washes and lotions.  I will use what I have.  I will eat what's in my pantry and my freezer. 

I want to replace the TV in my second bedroom.  It's 20 years old (a purchase from my old life, a TranSouth office that I closed) and has started doing the vertical line thingy.  I can hit it on the side and it plays fine.  For a while.  I read online that all it needs is resoldering the part in the back that has come loose, the vertical hold.  I can do that!  I have a soldering iron!  I can solder!  I've seen me do it!!  :)  So when it gets to the point that I can't pop it upside its head to get it to play, I'm going to take it apart and try to fix it.  And if THAT doesn't work, instead of going to Walmart or Best Buy to get a new one, I'll get one secondhand or better yet, get one Freecycled.  Maybe an exchange for a little blue sofa I have stored in my building out back?

If anybody wants to join me next month, please do!!  I think it'll be fun.  At the very least, it'll be educational.  :)  You never know what you can do until you do it.

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