Monday, January 10, 2011


–noun, plural -ties.
1.austere quality; severity of manner, life, etc.; sternness.
2.Usually, austerities. ascetic practices: austerities of monastery life.
3.strict economy.

With countries all over the world taking austerity measures in order to get back on the right path, your MatchGirl has been thinking of doing much the same.

Of course, I don't have the debt levels of Ireland (or the United States, for that matter). As I've written here before, it's been a decade since I've even had a credit card. But being a (basically) cash only gal doesn't necessarily mean that I've been as tight with the purse strings as I should have been since I have become gainfully employed.

When one is working, gentle readers, there are a few things that one must spend money on. Transportation - only getting more and more expensive in New York, even as they cut service and leave passengers stranded on the A train for 7 hours without even making any attempts to get them food and water (anyone else hear a class action suit against the MTA coming down the track?) - is a big one.  Lunch is another. If you're at the office, you've got to eat don't you? And clothing is another. Pretty much every work place has a dress code of one kind or another (OK, maybe not mine) and if you're amongst the long term unemployed, chances are the clothing from your last job is not going to be quite right (or in date) for your new place of employment.

And, of course, with a few dollars in your pocket, you'll want to go out and play and do all the things you couldn't do/oughtn't have done while you were scraping by on $405 a week. You'll want to go shopping and go out to a nice dinner and have a drink with friends and maybe even buy a round for all those people who took care of your alcohol needs while you were unemployed.

And, of course, there are things you want. A nicer apartment. A few bucks in a savings account.  Putting money in a kid's college fund.  You want to plan for a future that you can see but you can't quite figure out how to reach - not just yet.

So.  Where, dear readers, does austerity come into play?
How do I plan on making this happen in the new year?

The biggest one is a no-brainer. Start with lunch. Pack it up. Leftovers from last night in Tupperware. A bag of lettuce and some chopped up veggies and protein from home instead of the $8 salad from the overpriced chain down the block from your office. Heck, even heading to Trader Joe's or the salad bar at your nearby deli will shave a few bucks off your weekly spending. The pre-packaged stuff may not be the healthiest of options, but I guarantee you eat for a week for less than a week at a fast food chain. Imagine if you could go from $10 a day on lunch to only, say, $15 a week. That's a savings of over $1800 for the year. Oh. And while you're at it. Bring your coffee from home.  Save the café for a special treat or reward for working out before hitting the office or going in with everything already crossed of your to-do list.

It's all about budgeting, gentle ones.  Your MatchGirl is 35 years old and there are a lot of things she wants out of her life.  So.  She can do without that cute new sweater or that pair of boots.  She can drink her coffee and home and cook loads of meals and go to the bar a little less.  Because there are a lot of things that are more important than some new clothes or a $4 cup of coffee. 

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