An interesting thing about the spending freeze experiment is that it gets harder as it progresses! After week one we were in high spirits and felt like it mostly added positive changes to our lives. For example, when faced with the choice of preparing healthy homemade meals for lunch all week vs. preparing nothing and therefore eating nothing, the obvious choice so far has been to prioritize making and bringing lunches from home – something we typically prefer to do but doesn’t always happen. Here are a few other little life adjustments we made each day to our life (a reminder that this was before Jujube, so it’s also interesting for me to reflect on pre-baby life!).
January 1 – We went to a couple friends’ house for New Years and went to a party together that was a lot of fun. We brought eggs and other breakfast goodies to their place earlier that night, knowing we would sleep over and then want to go to brunch in the morning – the first day of the Spending Freeze. We made a great egg bake at their place instead and had such a relaxing morning drinking tea and coffee while it was in the oven.
January 2 – My side of the family Christmas present opening Skype was moved to January 2 this year to get everyone in on the call at the same time over the holidays. We were given a ton of wonderful, thoughtful, and practical gifts to add to our lives. It was an easy day to practice gratefulness, and we are also grateful to be able to video chat with everyone and thank them “in person.”
January 3 – Mr. Gumdrop’s coworker bought him a beer, and a new friend of mine was willing to go to a cafe where I had a Groupon for a large drink that I had already bought last month so we both ended up going out and socializing in the evening. In a disappointing turn of events, Mr. Gumdrop had to drive all the way to work alone when his carpool buddies had other plans. The Wagon=3/4 tank by day 3. He arranged alternative carpool with another co-worker for back up.
January 4 – Spent all day inside, which felt appropriate according to the temperature. Meal planning has been interesting since it’s important to use up the things that will spoil and save the things that won’t for later. In the morning, Mr. Gumdrop made a huevos rancheros style egg bake with lots of veggies and black beans for protein, and I ended up making a pumpkin, cauliflower, spinach, and mock duck green curry and oatmeal pumpkin muffins later that evening. That pumpkin needed to be eaten.
January 5 – We lined up our activities on the other side of town for the day to maximize gas and travel. Mr. Gumdrop sat in on a casual meeting I had for a local art event, then we went to the climbing gym, church, and home again. I’m pretty sore today since we ended up spending almost three hours at the gym before church but it was fun and felt like a good use of time with some buddies who showed up as well. We were quite hungry and a bit sad that we couldn’t go out for dinner with our friends after climbing or with a group after church but we rushed home and ate yummy leftover egg veggie bean bake wrapped up in tortillas. I’ve been thinking a lot about instant vs. delayed gratification.
January 6 – We looked at the calendar and realized that January is a disproportionately long month and that there is still essentially 4 work weeks left of the experiment and we’ve already used a quarter of both our gas tanks! With Mr Gumdrop’s commute, gas was definitely the most valuable resource in this experiment. Neither of our cars started after work! After dinner we hung out with the next door neighbors, blew freezing bubbles and threw boiling water into the air – a night well spent.
January 7 – I gave a guy who was all bundled up a ride to the store this morning which has little to do with frugality, but still a lot to do with cultivating a spirit of abundance instead of scarcity. It barely made a difference in my commute but saved him from walking almost 10 minutes in polar temperatures. And it was a small exercise in cultivating intentional vulnerability instead of fear which is a rare opportunity these days.
In the evening we had our bi-weekly finances group / couples group therapy / all around fantastic time. An ongoing conversation in that group has been around abundance and we got to share our experiment so far. The main reason for this experiment is saying, WE HAVE ENOUGH. We like to talk about “living off the fat” because we’re surrounded by extras. We have so much that for a month we can live off the excess we’ve been accruing and be totally fine. A little more creative and intentional, and better for it hopefully.