I Only Need One
The past year has taught me a lot about finances.
Resigning from my job in March 2020 rocked and reworked my financial existence. Before the pandemic, I didn’t think about money. I had enough to pay my bills, enough to invest, enough for entertainment, enough to eat out for lunch every day, and enough to stop at CVS or Duane Reade before heading up to the office for work, in case I forgot a lipstick or felt like buying a magazine.
I look back on how much I spent on various items and wonder why I did so. I’m grateful that two weeks after I resigned, I was able to secure better employment in terms of reduced stress, but also with a reduced paycheck.
I don’t miss the stress and have grieved and overcome the loss of salary. Two things have helped me through the past year:
- I pay for most items in cash, reserving the use of credit cards for recurring expenses, such as my cable and cell phone bill. I then pay the credit card bill in full at the end of the month.
Paying cash for groceries and household items has curbed impulse spending. It has prevented me from buying things just because they are on the shelf and available. I ask myself if I need something, or if I want it.
- I tell myself, “I only need one.”
I used the last tissue in the tissue box this morning and when I was grocery shopping, I wanted to replace the tissues. There were large boxes of six packages of tissues, and containers of 8 boxes of tissues that I would not or could not possibly use in a year. I said, “I only need one box of tissues,” and bought one box.
Working from home, and living at home while social distancing, has caused me to think about how much U.S. society is bent on consumerism. It’s not enough to have a closet of supplies. We are used to having far more than we’ll ever use because that is how supplies are packaged, shelved, promoted, and sold.
I have now created the habit of thinking: “Everything I need is contained within the four walls of my home.” All of the books, music, yarn for knitting and crocheting, anything and everything I wish to use for entertainment are at home. Since I’m spending far less, the quality of what I do buy has increased. I choose organic and fresh food and am glad to spend the money on healthy food.
When I’m done with a book or a magazine I recycle it by giving it to a neighbor who is glad to read it.
Do I want more money? Of course.
It’s natural to want more and to excel to every extent possible in our careers and work life. However, I have enjoyed the freedom of time to relax instead of feeling stressed. I enjoy feeling like I have enough, instead of wanting more.
If this is a tradeoff, the tradeoff is worth it.