I’ve never been terribly good at math. In part, I think it’s because at an early age I was labeled a good reader and that side of my education was nurtured. Also, I’m damn lazy when it comes to numbers. I’m lucky if I get the right amount of air pressure in my bike tires, have any clue what kind of gas mileage my car gets, and have yet to find a time in public health when x/y= anything. Sorry Mrs. Theile, while you were a lovely pre-calculus teacher, I couldn’t care less today than I did in 11th grade about equations — with the lone exception being me + free time = happiness.
This lack of mathematical prowess does bite me in the ass every so often. Knitting, for example, can take a bit of math patience that I don’t seem to have — especially if you are altering a pattern. Overdraft fees? Yep. They suck and yet I cannot for the life of me seem to keep enough cash in my checking account. I once had a teller explain to me that a debit card isn’t actually a credit card just because it has the Visa symbol on it. I nearly clocked her, but the fine would have cost too much. Do they take debit in jail?
Times, they are a changing. While they may have said there would be no math, they lied. My checkbook is proof pudding. I’m cutting back, making thriftiness tres chic in my house and dreaming of a Clinton economy when we were so flush and happy, no one noticed the Beret floozie gallivanting in and out of the oval office.
Money can be scary. Having it, not having it, knowing what to do with it. I had a long series of conversations with my parents this weekend about my desire to buy a house. When it comes right down to it, my dad finally said what no one else was willing to say — I want too much. I work in a field where the profit margin is low and the fulfillment is high. I’ve made that choice and it doesn’t necessarily come with a giant back yard and a garden and doggie door. I’m not giving up on my dream of having a bit more space, but I am taking a new look at my environment and appreciating what I own.
I’m also saving as much as I can and stopped by the bank this week to pick up a new check register. I’ve decided I’m going to record every penny spent in October and then take a closer look at my discretionary spending. I imagine this little experiment will provide me with enough shock to be truly horrific come Halloween. Care to join me in this walk toward budgetary accountability? I might just learn how to do some math in the process.
In the meantime, I’m officially celebrating all things creatively cheap — like buying books at the library for $1, hitting the dollar store for produce (bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, sweet peppers, carrots, etc. All fresh. All $1.), recycling magazines and music with my girlfriends, cleaning out my closets and donating all stuff unused to Goodwill (space is luxurious), walking and riding my bike more, using my coffee cup for the refill price, and most importantly — loving what I have. Getting out of the materialistic mindset is long process, but I love how freeing each step seems to be.
I’m going to have that house, dog and garden — even if it takes a few pickle jars worth of coins to change my savings habits.