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Enough Already

I feel like I’ve written about this enough. Enough of the enough even. But, not specifically and not in awhile. Mostly because I haven’t written about much in a while. Furthermore, it still haunts me. This concept. Saturation. Satiation. When to call it good, or just when to call it. When enough is enough? How do you have the presence of mind to identify it? Without roaring right past into the land of excess? It’s a slippery slope. For me. It can’t be just me though. (Can I get an Amen?) Spending begets more spending, begets more and more and and and … Well, I’m great at hindsight. But, I tend to let my snowball gather great momentum before I deign to interrupt its path.

Currently? No such luxury. In the now, with one shaky income (The Husband’s), a little bit of paid maternity leave (and I do mean a little), and some of my much coveted savings (I am loath to spend), I need to become acquainted, face to face, first name basis, best-friend style, with Enough. I need him to call before he visits. I’d like to see him coming a mile away.

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Its a time old Dogs or Dollars struggle. If you’ve been with me for a while, you know this story. Although to my credit, its restraint exercised on my birthday. That part is unusual. (I don’t usually even try.) My humble birthday plans involved lattes, take out pizza, one alcoholic beverage, and a trip to the local nursery. Quite possibly the cheapest birthday I’ve had as an adult. That nursery trip though, open ended. I sent myself no budget (mistake) and focused on one of my current obsessions: Succulents. Its on-going affair, really. They are my useless plant of choice. The one I don’t kill. I find planters for them everywhere; Thrifting, hand-me-downs, even a little trash picking. Then I long to fill them. Succulents reproduce really well, so usually I can feed my own habit. But about every other year, I need an infusion. New colors, new textures.

I did well. By all accounts. Total spend: $24. Twenty-four bucks!? What am I bitching about? A win doesn’t always feel like a win. As I’m planting my new beauties in their awaiting homes, I’m debating jumping back in the car for MORE. ‘This isn’t enough’, I tell myself. ‘I should have gotten …. ‘ I scheme and I plan. I put precious mental energy into talking myself out of it. Why? When I’ve pretty, alien like plants right in front of me. Going into the dirt. Why am I distracted with THE MORE? Why can’t I see Enough when I’ve literally got my hands on it?

I’m lacking a certain zen. The ability to give up what I want (or what I think I want) in order to enjoy the moment. Live more fully. Or some such bullshit. Well, maybe not bullshit. Seeing as I can’t appreciate the product of the $24 I did spend, without ruminating on the much much more I could’ve. The question is ‘how?’ How to become acquainted with Enough? How to kick More to the curb? Where the hell is my zen already?

The longing for less, for satisfaction may be somewhat unique in these parts (the USA, that is). Although, more common to my fellow citizens of the frugal subset. But, most of us are well acquainted with More. More drives our consumer culture. Next please. What you’ve got, whatever that is, yeah, it’s not enough. Rest assured. Its our only constant. Bigger, better, shinier, newer, sexier. Must. Just More. Always More. As much as I like to think I am immune from that culture, that I march to my own drummer, that I set my spending priorities, clearly I am not above influence. I own way too many iGadgets for that to me true. My priorities may be shifted, they may be less, but I still fight the urge to spend for the sake of spending. That is, for no good reason. The ‘gimmies’. So much so that it diminishes the experience of what I have spent.

I’m fighting the good fight, though. Otherwise I wouldn’t have ended up with such a cheap birthday. Resistance is my only answer. Resistance and acknowledgement of the ongoing struggle. This lifestyle I’ve embraced (if only temporarily) it doesn’t come naturally to me. My relationship with More continues to color my spending, and if not my spending then the aftermath. This is the long, slow, painful breakup. Where you keep talking on the phone, but not telling anybody about it. Hopefully, Enough will be more than a rebound.

Does the quest for More haunt you? Or have you kicked it to the curb? If so, care to share your wisdom?

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Comments

Done by Forty
Reply

This is awesome: More and Enough, and who we want to get in bed with. More is sexy, a damned temptress in tight jeans who will do that weird thing that you like but aren’t comfortable talking about in public. Enough is reliable, safe, comforting but not exciting. Enough is who we should be with in the long term. Enough is the one to bring home.

But there’s More again, texting you at 1 am…

Done by Forty
Reply

And I forgot to thank you for your post! I really love the metaphors and your honest thoughts about our struggles with consumerism. Thanks again!

Trish
Reply

I certainly was much more of a consumer in my younger days. New job? buy something to celebrate! Bad day? Buy something to cheer me up. For me the desire for more left as I got into my 40s (I’m 48 now). It finally dawned on me that the stuff in my life was taking time away from things I wanted to be doing. I got rid of so much, so much I had frittered away precious money on (I say precious not because I worship money, but security).

For me, and for many of my friends, the desire for less was a natural progression of our lives as we got older. How to acquire this attitude as a young person? I’m sure you’ve read all the advice floating around out there – I don’t need to reiterate it. And quite honestly, I don’t know, obviously I didn’t get here until I was older. The single biggest driving force behind my desire for less (besides the obvious – less things to take care of etc.) is the impact all that crap has on the environment. Live simply that others may simply live.

I’ve been reading your blog for a couple years now, but can’t remember if you’ve ever discussed ‘The Tightwad Gazett’. The author, Amy Dacyczyn, had a specific goal in mind – a large family, a rural life, no child care. That’s what drove her. Another blogger recently interviewed her daughters, now young adults. They seem to have picked up on the idea of wasteful spending being counterproductive to their long term goals.

You are doing really well for all you have to deal with now, uncertain income, new baby. I have always very appreciated your devotion to your dogs. So I don’t really have advice, so much as an appreciation for what you have accomplished.

Erica / Northwest Edible Life
Reply

No, I have no problems limiting myself. That’s why, after a firm self talking-to, I only bought 72 pounds of cherries to preserve. Clearly, that is totally reasonable. ;)

Van
Reply

Committing myself to “Buy Nothing New” really help curb my stuff cravings. Now I patiently wait for free things to come to me, actively pursue free-ness, and rarely buy new-anything. Or anything at all. It takes time for the cravings to stop but they do. I realize the “Stuff” I used to let myself buy with abandon before (when I actually had a money-making day job, haha) didn’t actually make me happy and like to repeat the mantra that Stuff is just an temporary, fleeting solution for an emotional need. That stops me from buying something and I look into what I’m truly seeking instead. For instance, it’s not usually a new dress I want, I want to feel more confident with my body. It’s not organizing supplies I want, I want my life to be organized.

Good luck to you, you can do it! Being forced to be budgetary helps of course. I don’t make what I used to and love to save so spending less is a must now-a-days.

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