# # The Necessary Year - Day 31: First Month Down

Brother, I Can See Your Skull.

Brother, I Can See Your Skull. - The Coreyshead Blog

The Necessary Year – Day 31: First Month Down


(this post is part of an aborted 1 year experiment in material abstinence I called The Necessary Year)


Wow – that first month went fast, eh? Well, for me it did.

What have I learned so far?

A lot, actually.

I was unrealistic in my conception when I started this. Many factors that I’d never considered raised their confounding heads almost immediately. The main one being that trying to cut back on unnecessary spending in a consumer culture while otherwise remaining actively mainstream (at least as mainstream as I’ve ever been) is a lot trickier than I thought – I’m not even sure it is possible.

I also wasn’t completely aware of why I was doing this and, though I have a much better grasp of that now, there is certainly more to be gleaned.

Just getting down to what is necessary or unnecessary for me has been a philosophical exercise that I continue to enjoy but which is a lot less clear cut than I initially imagined. I suspect I’ll be “defining the parameters” until the very end.

What I do know is that I am not trying hard enough, yet.

I cannot float blithely through this and expect to learn anything. I need to not only be more strict but also more conscious. Cutting out beer and cookies isn’t a big change, it’s a laughably minor concession.

This last weekend I fell down pretty hard. Now, granted, this was the weekend I planned to take my daughter to the Seattle Aquarium – and go we did – but I made no extra efforts, beyond walking on to the ferry and drinking water instead of something else with lunch, to conserve cash. Not only that but I allowed myself to be talked into going to a movie as well as buying food at the theater! Gah!

The weekend’s grand total, which included taking my boss out for a couple of drinks on Friday (I owed her – honest) comes to $157.46. I’ve looked at all the details and can see where I could have easily trimmed at least $80 off of that, if not more, and still had a great day with my daughter on Saturday (if you’re in the area and haven’t gone, I highly recommend visiting the Seattle Aquarium).

The total expenditures for this month (give or take $20 – I can’t swear I successfully managed to keep track of every last penny) came to a surprisingly round figure of $1785.00.

I honestly don’t know if that is high or low but, according to my bank statements, here are the totals for the two months leading up to the start of TNY:

April: $2,913.27
May: $2,031.20

According to the same institution, my average expenditures, based on the last 12 months, is: $2,432.55 a month.

If this can all be taken at face value then I have at least made some progress, though I know I can do much better.

It will be interesting to compare the months,
as the year goes by, to gauge my success (or failure).

One final note: My life is about to take a radical change as I head into what looks to be shaping into a bitter divorce. I don’t want to go into too many details but the stress of the situation has me making the occasional poor choice re: TNY, as well as adding new and interesting expenses to my life.

I think I can blame my decision to take my daughter to the movies, with all the trimmings – expense be damned – on the fact that I am not sure how much time I will have with her from now on.

I ate at McDonald’s a couple of times last week – I should’ve gone to the supermarket instead, I know, but going “home” didn’t seem a very palatable option and I my brain was elsewhere.

I also finally caved on the tea.

After struggling with it the entire month, I have come to realize that my evening tea is often the one, small thing that brings me some measure of personal relaxation and solace before hitting the sack. At least until things settle down some, I’m going to consider it “necessary” (even though we all know it is just me being wimpy).

Some have suggested that, considering the challenge of my personal life, I should put off TNY for now. I disagree. If anything, TNY will help me to be better prepared for the upcoming challenges I am likely to face.

If I have any fears at all, it is that, in the face of these changes, the first few months of TNY will have little relevance to the rest of it and that my posts and concentration here may suffer some as I go through these next few months.

Fear not, though. I and the TNY are here to stay.

June-2008 Expense Report
Automotive: $13.83
“Bills”: $715.00
City/State/Federal fees: $51.00
Daughter: $185.72
Gasoline: $238.07
Groceries: $521.19
Gratuity: $2.00
Medicine: $32.45
Social Obligation: $22.50
Tools: $3.24
“Unnecessaries” – $2.71
Total: $1785.00

notes: the categories at this point, particularly “Unnecessaries,” are loose to ill-defined.

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