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Spending Out: A Last Look at July’s Focus on Money

July 30, 2016

In her July chapter, Gretchen Rubin talks a lot about what she calls “spending out.” As she notes, lots of time, we may spend a lot of time and money on some things and then turn into skinflints in others. We put off replacing something broken, even though it’s something we use often. (Confession: my blender fell apart a few weeks ago. I’ve tried using my food chopper instead. Epic fail.)

I know that when I’ve traveled overseas, I’ve sometimes opted not to buy something, feeling guilty already for the cost of travel, only to get back home and want to kick myself. Several years ago I traveled to China and had a chance to shop at the jade market. I really wanted a mah jongg set, but decided against the purchase. I did buy some gifts but when I got back to the hotel room, I realized that the entire bag of purchases added up to twelve American dollars. When will I get back to China? Probably never.

Spending out also means giving to others–not just material gifts but our precious time–without expectation of anything in return. I’ve found that letting go of some precious possessions, giving them to someone I love who will enjoy them even more, produces so much more joy than hoarding and never using.

A word of caution: Don’t simply give things away when decluttering to keep from throwing away. It’s not fair to pass one’s own clutter on to someone else–even if you know he or she will probably toss it once you look away. But we all have treasures that we’ve enjoyed for a long time but that could have a new life when shared. I gave my grandmother’s pretty little mink hat to my sister. I loved it, but it clashed with my hair. It will look great with hers.

Have I enjoyed the focus on money this month? I’ll confess, it’s not my favorite topic. Right now, with my own career somewhere between retirement and returning to the classroom, I can’t completely ignore the topic. I am ready, though, to move on to August.

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