Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cheaps eats and shame...

Today, besides the second batch of yogurt that I began, I took a day off from being productive. I had a fairly productive weekend other than today involving repainting walls splashed with red paint from my bookshelf project and working on my business plan.

My unproductive day wound up involving the discovery of cheap eating out options and discussions revolving around the way humans spend money and emotions surrounding the spending of this money. My friend Mary and I had made plans to spend time together earlier in the week. It was an "unplanned plan," meaning we said, "We'll get together and do something." By later in the afternoon, Mary was texting me asking what we would do. A few suggestions were exchanged including ski waxing, a walk, going to sell books and finally we settled on dinner. Additionally, I made the requirement of a stop for coffee as I hadn't had one yet today and it was my one day I wanted to treat myself to a coffee know, the fancy kind...with syrup and whipped cream on top!

Mary and I ended up at Cafeteria in Uptown.

Cafeteria's Bar Area
Hallway at Cafeteria
It was within walking distance to where I live and we both had never been there and wanted a new experience. Mary had also taken it upon herself to look at the prices beforehand and she informed there were a lot of options under $10. We got to the restaurant and I discovered they had no fancy coffees with syrup. I opted for water and decided I could wait a while longer before divulging in a coffee. As it turned out, Mary had a gift certificate as well which she graciously decided to share with me. We were informed that it was happy hour time and the happy hour menu was fair game. We both asked for fried egg sandwiches. We were told by the waitress that it was fairly basic, egg and bread only. To our delight, the sandwich came out on texas toast with egg AND cheese. There was also a small handful of french fries underneath! We couldn't have been happier. How much did this basket of joy cost? $3...and man, was it worth it! I scoured over the other options on the menu and also discovered an all-you-can-eat pancake plate for $5 after 10pm. I may have to try that sometime if I am wanting to go on a late-night pancake bender. It made me realize one other thing about going out that I was questioning when I went out to my previous birthday bash and had pangs of guilt. I can go out. I can also do some research and seek out coupons and happy hour specials prior to making plans to get the biggest bang for my buck! It IS possible to still have a social life and be thrifty!
Fried Egg Sandwish
Only $3!
Mary and I began discussing a topic, a topic that it seems  no one EVER wants to discuss. It is private, it is shameful, it is impolite to ask about, it

For the majority of people, money and how they spend it is accompanied with the dynamic duo of guilt and shame. Why? Because perhaps we feel shameful of the way we spend our money, guilty about choices we have made on how we do or have spent our money and we would like to keep this hidden from the rest of society fearing judgement and scorn. I posed the question, "Wouldn't it be best though, if we all spoke more about how we utilize our money? This would make us more conscious of how and why we spend money and allow for self-reflection." Mary agreed. I spoke openly with Mary about my own spending habits and one of the many times in life I realized I was making unhealthy money decisions.

Enjoying a french fry!
A few years back, I happened across the website This website no longer has the options it prior had available but was one of those websites where you could manage your bank accounts and view your spending categorically. (I recently signed up for a website similar to Wesabe, called It has many of the same features Wesabe did but I do miss Wesabe and felt that it was a website that worked better for me.) I utilized the website for a while but eventually I stopped logging in to view my spending habits. Approximately a year ago, I felt that I had been spending a lot on going out to eat and coffees out. I don't frequently spend my money on objects, but experiences and outings with friends was where my money went. I was good at paying my bills first, putting some aside and then using the rest for the outings. My work was overwhelming and I often returned home with no ambition to cook. The outings were an escape, a moment of excitement and pure bliss where I could satisfy whatever negative feeling I was having from that day with a bit of pizza, brunch foods, ice cream or whatever it was that I chose to go out for that particular day. Upon pondering my frequent outings one night, I signed back into Wesabe. I was horrified to see that I was spending anywhere from $300-$400 per month on dining out and coffee! I decided I needed to curb those habits, STAT! For about a month or so, I did. I was really good about making my own coffee and dinners but shortly thereafter, work became overwhelming again and my ambition waned. I fell back into my old habits of eating out. Perhaps this was also due to the nicely padded paycheck I was receiving, even though I knew that if I didn't spend that much every month I could be saving it for other experiences that I wanted to have!

Admiring the dessert display.
Mary and I
So, there you have it. My scary money habits out for the world to see. Am I ashamed? No. Have I worked on changing and am actively in the process of becoming better at my spending? Yes. Do other people have bad habits just as I do, and maybe we all need to judge a little less about other people's habits and focus on our own and why we have these habits? Most certainly! We can also lend a listening ear to friends, one without judgement, when they are having some money problems and need to hash it out with a support system. Ideas can be exchanged and encouragement can be provided. After all, we all have our faults and what better than some help to change our ways?

Do you have feelings of shame and guilt around money? Why do you spend your money the way you do? Who do you count on to discuss your feelings and need guidance to change your ways?

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