A Dollar A Day

Piggy bankI’ve confessed I have a wee bit of a shopping problem, and that one of the biggest problems with my history of chewing and spitting was that I was wasting food (i.e., money) left and rightliterally.

Fortunately, I haven’t chewed/spit in well over three monthshurrah, me!

But I’ve still had trouble buying stuff and just taking a bite before chucking it, when I know deep down I just don’t need it, yet I emotionally want it for whatever the reason du jour.

And, more importantly, if I’m not going to be eating the whole thing anyway (in a day, or a week), why bother buying it in the first place?

My best friend and I were dorm mates all through college, and it always amazed me how she could have a pack of M&Ms on her desk that could last for a week.

She has a serious sweet tooth like me (hello, it’s naturally part of why we’re BFF!). And if she wanted to eat the whole pack in a day, she would eat it, no prob.

But if it was in front of me or on my desk for a minute, chances were, it’d be gone, whether I wanted it or not — for me, it’s often emotional; she doesn’t struggle with that attachment to food like I always have.

So about three weeks ago, after a talk with my husband (where I shared how I really want to grasp the concept of saving better) he suggested a good, easy idea I could start immediately: putting just a dollar a day in a little jar at home (vs. sliding money into my savings account, which just feels automatic and cold).

Just a buck. No big commitment, right?

Well, I’m a debit card freak. I never carry cash, which means that it’s been a huge effort/undertaking for me to come up with a dollar a day. I’ve been making more purchases in cash, and have had to put aside physical money each day — which has required thought.

Three weeks in, I feel like a little kid celebrating the contents of her piggy bank.

I have $27 in that jar. And it took a freaking long time to get to $27, an amount I’d easily drop on a dinner out without thinking twice, or on a shirt on sale at the Loft.

I have to admit, it’s really made me think.

(I know, I’m almost 30 and ought to have a better handle on personal savings but I admittedly suck at it — probably explains why I married a future MBA; someone who has made many wise financial decisions and has been saving smartly since early childhood!!)

I’ve just never been an inherent saver. It comes naturally to some, and should come easily to all; I’ve just never been good at money management.

Well, sadly, I can’t begin to tell you how many Luna bars, gourmet nut butters, ice cream, candy bars, Chex mix, etc.  have been bought over the years and tossed out after nary a nibble/spoonful once I realized it is still (yes, still) a trigger for me, try as I do to “get over it” I just can’t have some things around me in a healthy manner  …

Probably upwards of a thousand dollars thrown down the drain, in all honesty, over the years. (No, I’m not kidding. Imagine the wardrobe I could have bought, the amount I could have saved, the trip I could have taken … sigh).

I realize it’s insanely, recklessly wasteful to do what I’ve been doing. In this economy, it’s especially wasteful – but at any time, it’s a terrible habit to be in.

I mean, people are starving all over the world, and here I am buying not-even-necessities for a moment of enjoyment and chucking them just as quickly.

Once again, my relationships with money and food are deeply intertwined.

The truth is, seeing the little jar’s fund grow has been an eye-opening experience, and makes me think twice about buying something I know I can’t emotionally handle having around “just for a taste.”

I’m sure I’ll still slip up and buy something and toss it every now and then (better to “waste” than to my “waist” has always been my mantra) but in these tough times, I’m seeing the better solution is clearly just no to buy certain triggers at all.

I know it feels better to walk away from the candy aisle than it does to buy something only to take a bite. Because really, if I can’t afford it, in any sense of the word. I’m only kidding myself, thinking I can.

It pleases me to see the contents of my little jar grow. Somehow seeing the physical cash means more than seeing the balance in my savings account online. Likely because I had to think about it, be deliberate about it — versus just doing my usual bi-monthly online transfer.

No matter how you choose to save money, anything is better than wasting money on food you’ll never eat. Don’t I know it …

How about you? What savings strategies have you come up to? If you’ve suffered from bulimia in particular (or chewing/spitting) have you ever thought of it from the financial perspective as opposed to solely a health perspective?


6 thoughts on “A Dollar A Day

  1. This is interesting, for me food and money are only related because I grew up with the “there are starving kids in X, finish your rice.” So, I am definitely hyper-aware of the waste aspect when I don’t finish what is on my plate. I know this is different from your experience, but I never thought of the food/money connection before.

  2. Lara, what’s ironic is it’s not like I was raised where it’s ok to be wasteful — yet somehow, I’ve become this person. So sad!!!

  3. I have big issues with saving as well and have definitely “over shopped” for emotional reasons just as I have “over eaten” for emotional reasons. I never dealt with bullimia but did have a phase of bingeing where I spent so much money on non-essential food (primarily sweets and baked goods) that were eaten in binge like fashion. Thinking of all the money I spent on that was very useful in my recovery actually. My therapist suggested that I look over all my bank statements (I am a big debit card user too) and see where I was spending my money. Well there were so many bakeries and food places listed there with 2-5 buck charges–sometimes a few in one day! It was eye opening.

  4. Overeaten and overshopped — welcome to my world 🙂 Money and food for “comfort” 😉 Glad you had a similar eye-opening experience!

  5. I used to be super wasteful with throwing away food that I couldn’t “handle” in the house too! I love your honesty! Thank you.

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