Oh Lord, I have been a backslider.
After several years of embracing the easy life--that is, a life unencumbered by wasteful, expensive, polluting overconsumption--I ran back into the arms of Mother Dollar. I succumbed to the temptations of living in a world where the answer to every question is "How Much?" I spent my way into comfort and solace; rewarded my long working hours by burning the paychecks earned with my long working hours; threw money at entertainment, travel, repairs, and fast food; ran up stupid amounts of debt; and generally did it all in a fog of unawareness.
I have learned this lesson before, but I guess it's coming around again.
For me, it feels good to spend money. Some people (solvent people) feel good socking cash away in mutual funds, but I love the high of browsing and buying. Whether I'm buying used books at Goodwill or a new sofa at the Home Center, I get a little buzz. I even get a buzz from paying my bills, that clean stack of envelopes with fresh stamps all ready to go. I'm mature, the bills remind me. I can stay on top of things.
But of course, I haven't stayed on top of things, and the shopping buzz doesn't even last as long as a line of cocaine (or, um, so I've been told). Truth be told, the shopping buzz is pretty well over by the time I'm negotiating the cart to the car, and when it comes to unwrapping the latest gizmo and getting rid of the eight tons of plastic and corrugated cardboard, well, the thrill is gone.
But the bills, see, are here to stay.
So yes. I had to learn this again. It's back to cutting up the credit cards, keeping spending records, and making informed choices. It's back to being money conscious. The pretend world of throw-it-all-in-the-cart-because-we're-loaded has reached its grim conclusion, which is always, always that we're not loaded. Never were.
But for a while there we were debt-free and we lived within our means. We did it once and we can do it again.
For today, my inspiration is a blog Sarah sent me called No Impact Man. It's pretty awesome. He's got me thinking about getting out my bike and that, my friends, is talkin' serious.