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A Spender on a Spending Diet

The idea of saving money sounds about as exciting to me as window-shopping or paying taxes. While I recognize how meaningless stuff is, I still love new stuff. I fantasize about the kind of rug I want to buy for my bare, unfinished dining room. Modern or Oriental? Wool or chenille? I divide my mental wish-list into what I can buy now, and what I’ll buy when I have more money one day. You can call it a sickness. I call it being raised by capitalists.

Fortunately for me, I write about money on my website, Unfortunately for me, I have to walk my talk.

Hot Water
I recently posted a column on DailyWorth about spending hiatuses. In case you haven’t heard, freezing all unnecessary spending for a predetermined period of time is the hottest thing since knitted Uggs. Bloggers everywhere seem to be upping the ante, extending their hiatuses and bragging about how little deprivation they’re feeling. 

I know I overspend. I also know that I use shopping as a way to cure boredom or soothe feelings of inadequacy. So last week I threw my hat into the ring. For one week, I declared so effortlessly and publicly, I’d only buy food and pay bills. Nothing else. 

How It Went
Overall, I’d say my week-long spending hiatus wasn’t a huge success. It was, however, a small step in the right direction of spending less and saving more. I liken the experience to my one week on Atkins or the three years I spent on Weight Watchers. You can do anything for a week, but will the habits stick? The jury’s still out. 

Even so, I did save $380 during my week of reduced spending. 

My old down comforter had two huge tears. Rather than buying a new one, I broke out the needle and thread—and saved $200! I cooked dinner (instead of opting for take-out) on Friday night and Saturday night. $60 saved! The real “Aha!” moment happened on Day Two, when I realized I could tally each dollar saved and, at the end of the week, transfer the cash into a designated savings account for home improvement projects, like fixing our two fireplaces. I really want working fireplaces. Saving money alone does not motivate me. Saving money with a prize in mind definitely does. Lesson learned: There’s got to be an upside.

Will I join the masses of bloggers extending their spending sabbaticals from weeks to months to years? Probably not. But I’m inspired. And soon, I’ll be sitting by a fire.