Sat Mar 31, 2007 18:56


I was shopping at the local supermarket where I selected:

A half-gallon of 2% milk,
A carton of eggs,
A quart of orange juice,
A head of romaine lettuce,
A 2 lb. can of coffee, and
A 1 lb. package of bacon.

As I was unloading my items on the conveyor belt to check out, a drunk standing behind me watched as I placed the items in front of the cashier. While the cashier was ringing up the purchases, the drunk calmly stated, "You must be single."

I was a bit startled by this proclamation, but I was intrigued by the derelict's intuition, since I was indeed single. I looked at the six items on the belt and saw nothing particularly unusual about my selections that could have tipped off the drunk to my marital status.

Curiosity getting the better of me, I said: "Well, you know what, you're absolutely right. But how on earth did you know that?"

The drunk replied, "Cause you're ugly."


Do you think you could stop spending money for a month? Of course, that's not counting the necessary expenses for food, transportation, and bills. Well, I've been seeing more and more articles on the Web about people trying such experiments, and I became intrigued.

Goodness knows, there are many people suffering with large credit card debt or treating shopping as a form of therapy. But there are also many people (myself included) who find that money just "dribbles" away or seems to get spent on unimportant or spur of the moment purchases. Does that happen to you too, Kenneth?

These experiments of "not spending" for a period of time really helped the participants to identify what in fact they had been spending money on. Maybe it was expensive lattes, when they could have brewed some coffee at home. Or not being able to pass a store that had a "Sale!" sign in the window. They found the money often went on things they didn't need or care about. So when they didn't spend their money in that way, they were able to save or use it for something they in fact really needed or wanted.

But on a deeper level, it helped them to crystallize what they really valued and helped them attain a sense of control in their lives. A woman named Judith Levine even wrote a book about her experiences of not buying anything that wasn't essential for a year.

She paid off her credit card debt with the money she saved, but actually felt that her greatest gain was in her personal life. Not shopping gave her more time to devote to her interests and to other people. "It gave me a sense of control and optimism about my financial future. I learned that by not spending so much money I wasn't sacrificing a full or happy life. You not only learn what you can live without, but what you really want to spend your money on."

Main Page - Saturday, 04/07/07

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