Okay, I admit it—I’m a total dork. I make my husband go on purposeful dates to do things like relationship homework and family goal setting. Yesterday, we were released from parental duties for a couple hours by Grampa Pete to do just that. It was mid-afternoon—a sunny Sunday and the first day of April—and we drove out of our way to a South Minneapolis bar the likes of which we frequented in the pre-familial era.
Josh and I camped at a table near the window and eyed the beer list. “Could it really be?” I thought. “Do we really have the next 90 minutes to do nothing but have a drink and oh, plan the rest of our lives?” I’d been desperate for such a date for weeks. Lately, I’ve been feeling really unsure of where to channel my energy. My goal for the winter was to lay off the goal setting—to let things percolate for a season—but honestly, I can only do that for so long before anxiety sets in. And while Josh and I each have ambitious long-term goals (start a brewery and write books, for example), we really haven’t set many as a couple.
It didn’t take much discussion before we realized the plain truth: most if not all of our goals depend on first digging our way out of debt. I won’t go into details, but imagine an absurd amount of debt for one young family to have (credit cards, student loans, car loan, you name it). Now double that amount, and you’re probably in the ballpark. It doesn’t matter how we got here; what matters is that we get out. So often, it feels fruitless, and I let myself pretend like the little choices—the minor expenditures—don’t matter. Well, they do.
Halfway through a tall wheat beer, I was inspired. “Honey,” I declared, “I’m going to make saving money a sport!” And I was serious. I had hoped to walk away from the bar with some exciting goals. Pinching pennies was not exactly what I had in mind.
I don’t have a grand moving-saving scheme mapped out yet, but to start, I’m trying to challenge my assumptions about what I really need. As a symbol of my wastefulness and my intention to change, I am offering up the holy paper towel to the gods of frugality. It—great sopper of spills that it is—will be difficult to give up, but last night, I organized my rags, sponges, towels, and cloth napkins, and hell if the house has gone to the dogs yet. I think I can do this. I, who very recently used dozens of paper towels just to clean one bathroom, can suddenly decide to stop. And if I can do that, what else can I do?
Giving up paper towels clearly isn’t going to solve our financial woes. But what if I no longer need to run to Target or Costco to get more Bounty megapacks? What if I skip those trips altogether—the ones that inevitably end with me and a shopping cart full of crayons, hair accessories, and just a few more bins to organize the endless array of crap we already have in our house? What if?
I am currently the grateful owner of one half of a roll of paper towels, which I will hoard for a disgusting emergency of the headless rabbit variety. Otherwise, I’m going cold turkey. If saving money is a sport, consider me in training.
I Want to Know
- Are you a paper towel addict like me? Any interest in joining my challenge?
- What are your favorite ways to save a little money here and there?