Starting today…

The Bet is on!

I issued the challenge to Mr. Handsome last night after I had returned from my final spending spree. He didn’t say anything, really. Then this morning when I said something about The Bet, he said, “But I didn’t agree to it yet.”


So I said my piece all over again. We talked about some of the finer points. He went to work.

Then I sat down to write this piece and I realized that he still hadn’t accepted the challenge. I called him at work. “Is the bet on?”

“I’m eating lunch with some other people right now.”

“Fine. Is the bet on?”

“Why? Do you want to go buy something?”

“No! I just want to know if the bet has started yet!”

“Um … okay. Yes.”

“Okey-dokey,” and I hung up. (Well, first I pestered him to tell me what he thought of his lunch—a new dish that I’ll be posting soon. He said it was good. Really good? I pushed. Yes, really good, he sighed. Then I hung up.)

So! As of today, January 14, 2010, The Bet is on. Yeah, boy, I’m taking him down.

For those of you not familiar with our annual game (and for those of you too lazy to click on the link), the goal is to see who can go the longest without spending money. The purpose is to, well, not spend money in order to, one, save money (Mr. Handsome’s reason), two, free up time and energy that would otherwise be spent thinking about and/or making purchases (my reason), and three, to give us a chance to use up all the piles of stuff that are cluttering up this old house (we both agree on this one).

The rules are quite reasonable. We’re allowed gas, medical, bills (we’re not huge risk-takers), basic food staples and household supplies (think oats and toilet paper), birthday gifts (the two little ones who have birthdays in February are not going to suffer because of our little competition), and Mr. Handsome is permitted to purchase supplies for his ongoing project, the barn.

We are not allowed to spend money on frivolous edibles (no fresh produce [aside from potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, and celery], ice cream, cereal, pretzels, alcohol, crackers, meat, pasta, special cheeses, etc), entertainment (but we’re not putting our Netflix subscription on hold), clothes, homeschool supplies (unless absolutely necessary), etc.

Coffee beans are allowed, as are garden seeds.

(Yes, there are many loopholes and inconsistencies, I’m very much aware. If you want to read everyone else’s thoughts on the matter, go here. I never would’ve guessed a lemon tart could be so exciting.)

Last year we made it two and a half months before Mr. Handsome caved. I’m pretty certain he’ll lose this year again.

There’s a chance the game might not be totally fair, seeing as I kind of, sort of, stocked up a little. Not too much, I don’t think, but there were those boxes of cereal and crackers, a quart of whipping cream, lemons and limes, some wine and Kahlúa. And I made sure I had enough staples to allow me to play around with my food, Asian-style—rice vinegar, Sriracha, Chinese five-spice.

I bought two pairs of jeans, too.

I think it might be called “stacking the deck.”

But really, pre-spending is not totally the point, at least not for me (or maybe I’m just trying to absolve myself). I feel free as a bird today—no more fretting over what I need to get and what I want to make. I’ve let go of all those worries and am ready to just be. My focus is shifting from outward to inward. I’m ready to work with what I’ve got. I’m ready to use up and wear out and move on with my life. Things have a real knack for bogging me down.

I suppose I could launch into a long-winded, philosophical, introspective rant about what it is that keeps me from desiring to always feel this free and how I would be such a happier and more virtuous person if I were more frugal on a consistent (boring) basis, but frankly, I’m not in the mood. Call me a tight-fisted, close-minded, blind fool. Maybe I am. There’s always the possibility (the hope?) that this little competition will inspire me to live with less for longer, maybe even for always. But on that, all bets are off.

In any case, we have Five Guys to look forward to since The Loser (that will be Mr. Handsome) takes the family out for dinner.

Wish me luck, dearies.


When Mr. Handsome came home from work yesterday, he walked straight over to the stereo that sits atop the fridge and turned it on to NPR where a woman was talking about doing a 21-day spending fast. If you seek more inspiration (not that I’m trying to convince anyone to do as I’m doing) you can listen to it and/or read it here.

About one year ago: Five-Minute Bread, Part I


  • It's me ...Mavis

    I forgot to tell you that I broke out the credit card last week to buy something… I suppose I could of used my debit card but I wanted the "points"…But just so you know… I did put it back in the envelope… if that counts for anything 🙂

  • goodbadi

    Uh, you get Five Guys either way, right? So what's to lose? And wait a minute–the penalty for spending money is spending money on something really good? Hmmm. It's a bit like punishing kids who do bad things at school (often because they don't like school) by suspending them from school….

    Can I come with you to Five Guys (even though we're on our own spending freeze (but I call ours a spending ice age), over here)? Your treat?

  • Mr. H.

    I issued your challenge to my wife last night and she scoffed at me. She proceeded to call me a penny pinching miser and said that I had an unfair advantage? I suppose I will simply have to watch the outcome of your game instead.

  • Cookie baker Lynn

    What a grand idea. I relate to how piles of "stuff" make you feel fettered, yet, you still want more stuff. Totally me.

  • It's me ...Mavis

    I read the NPR article… I'm in …I'll play the game for 21 days… my credit cards are now in an envelope 🙂 Unlike thyhand I don't have my numbers memorized so this will be exciting. And I won't have a problem trying to restrain myself from buying books or renting movies… I use the library for that 🙂 But I'm wondering…Do I still get to use my Panera GIFT CARD? I mean after all it's not using money… it was a gift.

  • You Can Call Me Jane

    I was listening to NPR yesterday, too, and heard about the spendging fast. It was very interesting. I loved the HUGE pause that the one caller gave when the author suggested taking her credit card out of her wallet:-).

    My problem isn't having the plastic in my wallet, it's knowing the numbers on it. I should really fast from buying books. And, yes, I have heard of that place called "the library".

    Best of luck to you both!

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