Thursday, October 9, 2008

Spending Hiatus, Take Three

It's not quite time for the annual spending hiatus... you know, my social experiment of one participant, that being me, in which I try to spend nothing but time for the period of 10 (painful, self-denying) days.

The fun part is that you get to watch me melt down, bloggishly, into a puddle of my former spending self. Historically it has caused some anxiety in the world, me going 10 days without a Dutch Brothers mocha. Will she explode or merely implode? Will she break days early, and buy a pair of boots for herself and herself alone? Will an unexpected bill count if she pays it? Will she stay true to her own self-imposed plan of poverty?

All these questions answered and more, over the next 10 days. Yes, it's an extra spending hiatus this year. I thought it was fitting, considering the state of the economy (personal and public).

Another way to think of this: I'm taking a short sabbatical from my job as procurement officer. We have plenty, more than we need. We are blessed beyond measure with lovely things (of course I'm still missing some of that beautiful Polish pottery). It's very easy to forget that others in the world lack refrigeration, let alone a stocked refrigerator and pantry. It's even possible to forget for minutes on end that the credit crisis is affecting my neighbors in our wealthy country. People who are losing their homes surely don't notice whether I've overspent at Powell's Books, but I do. It seems wrong, somehow.

For a week and a couple of days, what can I give up (again, besides the pottery)? I can give up Dutch Brothers (local coffee roaster extraordinaire). I can give up estate sales and shoe stores and (gasp) bookstores. In my experience, taking a break from all spending makes it really difficult later to fall back into thoughtless spending that is both bad for my budget and somewhat disrespectful to the world situation.

Once in a while a friend of mine will go on a "fast" in order to pray about something. The lack of food, even for one meal, is enough to cause one's thoughts to better focus on the "important" instead of the seemingly urgent. In this way fasting is often misunderstood. It's not about the food, I don't think. It's about the attention, the introspection. I want to use my spending hiatus this time around to pay attention to the slow things in life.

It doesn't take a moment to swipe the debit card, but it sure takes some thought to make a birthday gift rather than buy one. It doesn't take a second to hand over $3.25 for a mocha, but it sure takes some thought (and allows for some meditation) to steep a teabag or three in the pot, pour the honey, add the milk and finally sit down with a cup of something hot. How is that not better than driving around between big box stores with a 20-ounce, four-shot espresso drink?

If you'd like to join me in this spending hiatus, in any fashion, leave a comment and I'll link to you. It'll be fun!


Sass E-mum said...

Great idea. I'm just not sure I could do it. I might be able to manage 6 days... I get caught out by having to buy train tickets.

I have been taking sandwiches into work though.

Toni said...

Hmmm, I was tempted to join you, except that I just returned home from buying a weekend spree and gifts for two birthdays. I also think I need some time to gear up for it. Only once a year? That should be enough time to gear up for next year.

Misty said...

When are you starting??? Because, depending on that- I will totally do it!

Oh hey, and... do you have a photo for me?

Alexis - Chickie Momma said...

Um... uh... *mumble mumble* I'll have to think about it...

Ok, fine! I'm petrified of doing this!! But, I'll give it serious consideration. Promise.