In response to RDP – Tuesday – Behavioral
Although I cannot start my day without a few minutes of inner reflection, nor can I end my day without a list of my priorities for the next day, there are some reflections I just don’t see as important in my life. One of them is keeping an eye on my finances. Checking my expenses falls in the same category as keeping a food diary. Any diet that starts with a food diary is a diet I have never attempted, yet the concept is the same as inner reflection. One has to stop and think.
Due to my frequent travel the only money I carry is my credit card and a few extra cash dollars for emergency. The only time I check my expenses is once every three months when I pay my taxes in advance and have to reconcile my business expenses for the accountant. The task is an easy one. I skim through the credit card statement, delete my personal expenses and reconcile the business expenses. I have done this for years on automatic mode.
Since the opening of the State borders, my regional travel has been largely restricted and it was easier to notice some unusual transactions on my card. In one instance $700 and in another case, for a direct debit that I stopped months ago and now totaling several hundred dollars. It was easier to cancel my card and start again. The recoup from the bank was also easier than anticipated. But I felt a sense of violation and the experience of this shifted something in me. It gave me a sense of ownership. A sense of responsibility. I decided to monitor my monthly expenditure, even though the only statements I had was the previous three months. Browsing through the pages made me sit back and re-evaluate my behaviour.
I have discovered the joys of online shopping a bit later than others. The travel restrictions being key. Oh how I love it! I can avoid crowds and not get stressed when someone sneezes next to me or put myself through the stressors of finding a good parking spot close to the entrance of the shopping centre. I also love cooking so gourmet shops and the grocery shops are favourite haunts that I love to browse through, perhaps, more than shopping centres. So it is not surprising most of my personal expenditure is food and clothes. Both expenses over the past three months were eye watering and to be honest, wasteful.
In the past month I experimented. I’m a good cook but I’m never satisfied with the Indian meals I make even though others enjoy them. For me, there is always something lacking. I’m a ‘crack a jar open’ curry cook! With more time on my hands I set myself a task. I would cook only Indian and Italian meals for a month. I would not buy any pre-made Indian pastes, which at $15 a jar, for each meal, is an expensive item. I went to You Tube and found some recipes and started cooking fresh from scratch and making my own pastes and sauces. I cooked up a storm one Sunday and found I had enough frozen meals for the whole month. My total bill for food was only a third of what I would usually spend. Did this revelation change my behaviour? Absolutely!
The other night a storm was brewing. It was cold and windy and I had a sudden urge to buy some Chinese take away for dinner. I realised I had not eaten Chinese food in years but it is one of those cuisines that once you think about it, you crave it. I looked at the menu of the local Chinese restaurant. $18 for a small fried rice! $24 for a noodle dish. No Way! I went to my freezer and found something delicious. The fact that I changed my behaviour, was a feeling, even more delicious.
In the last two weeks I have spent less than $30 on groceries, mostly milk and the occasional loaf of sourdough bread. Normally it would not be uncommon for me to have spent a couple of hundred dollars in the same time period and then waste most of the food I had bought. I am mindful of what I need and consume. With plenty of shelves empty in the supermarket, it is easier to get used to buying less. The knowledge that I have food in the freezer is a huge deterrent to buying more groceries. I have a sense of abundance at any given time of the day.
Now about clothes. My Achilles heel. As an impressionable child I can remember reading an article about Jackie O shopping for shoes in Italy. She liked a pair and then bought it in all the colours that were available. But then, she was married to a shipping magnate. Sadly, I have done the same but fooled myself into thinking it is okay to do this because I hate shopping! So I turned my gaze to the wardrobe and have ruthlessly culled it, giving away shoes and clothing I have never worn. Segmenting the clothes into sections for work and leisure made it easier to see what I have and what I need or don’t need. For example, that smaller size pair of jeans … is a dream … is a want. Hanging on to it was not motivational. It did not bring me joy! It had to go. Now when I browse online, I have the same feeling as I do with food in the freezer. A feeling of abundance. I have what I need.
Sometimes, behaviour is not that complex. It can be as stark as black and white. May you see this too and may you find abundance, in less.
Until next time
a dawn bird