My column from the May 16, 2007 edition of the Greenhorn Valley View:
Cocaine. “Asking people to quit spending is like asking them to give up their cocaine.” That’s the response from a friend of mine regarding last week’s column. Last week I issued a challenge to go a whole month without spending any money, except for what was absolutely necessary. I thought this would be an excellent opportunity for people to put their money where their mouth’s are. The far left types who think corporate executives get fat by stealing the puny resources of the poor should rejoice in the opportunity to stick it to the man. Don’t let ’em get rich off your money! The far right types who think all spending is an insidious waste of personal resources should be ecstatic at the opportunity to practice building up their bank accounts. I’ll get rich by making my money work for me! Yet, other than my friend’s cocaine comment, I received exactly zero responses to that column.
Very well. We’ll do it alone. For the next month, my family and I will spend nothing except what is absolutely necessary. Because we’re the only ones involved in this little experiment, and because I do not have the benefit of many families’ experiences to draw on, you the readers are going to have to put up with my babbling about my own family’s experiences.
Oh boy. Now what? How do we know what is necessary? A friend of ours is in a play this weekend. We told him we’d go see the play. But is that a necessary expense? Our daughter’s birthday is coming up soon. Traditionally, I take each kid out for a donut on their birthday. But is this a necessary expense? We’re going out of town to a three day conference later this month. The conference fee and hotel are already paid for, but what about food? How much of that is necessary? What about books and other resources available at the conference, that we could potentially benefit from for years? Necessary?
The answers to these questions are what we’re going to be hashing through this next month. I hope to reap many benefits as we learn to conquer our spending addiction. And even before this experiment begins, I’ve already noticed one benefit. My wife and I just spent a lot of time talking together about our goals for our family and the best way to spend our money to achieve those goals. If that is the only long-term benefit we realize, the experiment will have been worth the trouble.