THE ‘NETTE EFFECT: Not poverty, just spending sense
IT appears that my recent declaration of no-spend August has been interpreted by some as a vow of poverty.
That, to some, was a sure indication that I am broke. That may not be too far a stretch of my natural state before August but that was not the overriding factor for my decision. It is just that I am a bit more conscious of how much I needlessly spend on items I can do without.
To that end I’ve made up my mind to make do with what I have and in the process save some money which will be diverted to other use. This, my friends, is nothing new, women have been doing it for centuries.
But no matter how I explain myself to some people they just cannot fathom a month without plunking down money for lunch, snacks, shoes, clothes or other non-essentials. These are only non-essentials in that I already have such things.
However, I do appreciate the offers to help and I might take up Harry on his proposal, ignore Roy on his and politely and firmly thank the other not-so genuine bids.
But my latest challenge has changed some other aspects of my life. For instance, the Sunday routine after church was to take the brood to the supermarket where they get a snack of their choice. This is done more out of a quality time event than a necessity. However, it left my daughter Ya-Ya and nephew Ki, the two oldest in the group, howling at the interruption of their Sunday outing. More likely though is that it stopped them from exploiting me by slipping things into the shopping cart and relying on my good nature to, in exasperation say, “just leave them”.
I have been managing well but the disadvantage is that once I’ve cooked something it remains on the menu for two days. So instead of just the traditional warm-over for Mondays, in my home any day is a possible warm-up day.
It hasn’t been that bad. I’ve started on the foods in the refrigerator since it is hurricane season. I reckoned that if I am not buying food in August then I should consume the canned goods and dry foods last.
But my refrigerator has turned up some nice surprises. So far I’ve rediscovered snapper and chubs, mutton and mince meat as well as an expired turkey ham. And, if the articles from reputable news media are to be believed, foods with expired dates are still safe to consume up to a certain point. So far I’ve had no sick days. I have been warned by a colleague, however, to beware of the freezer burn. I know. Don’t for one minute believe I don’t examine the food before I prepare it.
An article from the Huffington Post pointed out that eggs should keep for three to five weeks in the refrigerator. In addition it pointed out that cereal, apples, deli meat and bread are also safe to use after their sell by dates.
There were some foods that the news article listed which expire way before we believe that they do. While flour, spices, brown rice, nuts, oils and ketchup may last months, they really do have a shelf life. They will go bad after in many cases nine months in storage. That may also depend on where they are stored.
My determination has forced me to adjust my menu and in the last 17 days I’ve eaten quiche, pelau, stew, home-made wedges and still have some snappers leftover.
By way of clothing I unearthed some items with the price tags still attached and pressed them into use.
The no-spend month has heightened my spending sensibilities. I am acutely aware of how much marketing and advertising are thrown at consumers. Every day I wade through a minefield of discounts and sales on anything from A to Z. Tempted as I am I am resolute.
Whenever my colleagues ask me where I’m going for lunch I produce my lunch container or, if they want my company so badly they will pay for me to go to lunch. It worked with one Maria when I thought it didn’t matter.
She seemed not to understand the concept and when she wanted $10 I explained to her that I wasn’t spending on non-essentials. She was puzzled momentarily. She is the only one who has been able to wear me down at this point.
I am yet to calculate how much I’ve saved so far but with the summer vacation coming to an end I know that money will now be transferred from under savings to education funding.
Antoinette Connell is a News Editor. Email [email protected]