found! not lost blog

“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ― Mary Oliver

Give ’til it hurts?

My blog puts in plain view my hearty and unabashed enjoyment of many extravagances in fashion, food, travel, etc.  And I have been, to date, unapologetic about my love of these things. After all, there isn’t anything wrong with treating yourself once in a while. Once.in.a.while. And that, dear readers, is what I’ve lost sight of.

Until these last few weeks, during which some things have come together to force me into the realization that a change is needed. Here, I share just a few:

  • “…planet earth has everything it needs to sustain itself…So, why are there homeless people? Why are there those suffering without enough food, enough clothes, enough blankets…enough of everything? It’s because someone… somewhere…has MORE than s/he actually needs. Too many clothes, too many TVs, too many cars, too many shoes…too much of everything. Things they don’t even use, and AT THE END of life’s journey they will take none of those material things with them.”  This comment shared in response to a Huffington Post article may not even be “factually correct”, but still, so obviously true in many ways, and yet why is it so thought-provoking to see it in black and white?
  • Talking with a good friend, who shares my love of fashion, shopping, and yes, sometimes over-the-top experiences, she revealed her surprising choices. She has been through her share of financial difficulty, but still tithes 10% to her church and charitable causes. This is a family who never had to consider a “budget” in the past, but now budgets carefully to make sure there is not only enough for them, but enough to share amply with others. Inspiring!
  • Watching the class war coming to a head in the 2012 election highlights the widening disparity between the oft-referenced 1% and 99%. There will always be the “haves” and “have nots”, but what generous actions have I taken to defuse the situation? What acts of conspicuous consumption have I documented that made it worse?

I hope you’ve stuck with me this far – this post isn’t meant to indict everyone who enjoys the occasional splurge.  My problem was that I lost touch with what is a splurge versus “life as usual”. More importantly, I realize how much happier I am when I share what I have rather than waste it on frivolous things that I enjoy, but know I don’t need. So rather than “give until it hurts” many people say it’s “give until it feels good”, because it’s true, the more you give the better you feel (but you must push past the initial hump resulting from a change in habits).

So, what now? To jump-start my change in thinking, a friend’s small and simple step for Lent inspired me:  for every dollar she spent on herself she spent that equal amount on someone else.

It can be a donation to charity or it can be an unexpected gift for that unappreciated person in your life, it doesn’t really matter as long as it’s given freely.  I floated this idea with my husband at the beginning of the month and he’s on board. So, it is already underway, beginning August 1, I committed  to keep a budget to split my disposable income 50/50, half for myself and half to donate at least until October.   Charitable giving has always been important to us, but while it’s a substantial amount, it’s not at a level (yet) that has impacted much of our ability to do and acquire what we want.  That would be my goal, to continue increasing each year until we exceed the point where it is “comfortable”.  But, it is hard to push that position with my husband when he sees what looks like limitless consumption on my end!  So, time to put my money where my mouth is. 

{There’s that money tree my husband thinks I believe exists in our back yard}

I’m excited to do this with the smaller pool of money that I manage, where it is already causing big changes in my behavior.  It forces me to say “no” to my own wants so that (1) I may fulfill someone else’s needs (2) when I do save enough to indulge my wants it means more; I will relearn appreciation where I was once taking things for granted, and (3) it forces me to work to a budget, which I haven’t done in almost 10 years. If I spend like I did before and try to match it I will soon be broke!

{Even a kid can budget with this nifty piggy bank, hopefully I don’t need one}

I hope you’ll support me throughout this journey as I’ll be documenting much of it here.  Of course, there will still be scoops on shopping, restaurants, etc. since I can certainly still buy things, but now it will be after more thought so that I can meet my financial commitment for the next two months.  I’ll have to remind myself frequently of this quote that is inspiring and very true:

“When you let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need, it frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have.” – Lynne Twist

A great related video…

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One comment on “Give ’til it hurts?

  1. rutheh
    August 12, 2012

    Thank you for the “like” on my blog post.
    Best,
    Ruth in Pittsburgh

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This entry was posted on August 11, 2012 by in personal and tagged , , , , , .
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