Monday, November 24, 2008

Operation: Cut Expenses

The promise of a dim future -- the immediate future -- delivered innovation to the otherwise predictable dinner table talk. Eating forkfuls of warm chicken marbella on white rice, I listened to Dad list this week's travel itinerary. This is the third or fourth week in a row he travels west to put air back in the lungs of his business by meeting individually with investors to ease the blows of a bad economy.
This is not the golden year for financial institutions, my father's business being no exception. Tonight, the conversation centered on ways to cut expenses at home, as personal income would inevitably be affected. We live quite comfortably, so thinking of ways to cut back was not difficult. We discussed the obvious, everything from turning off the light when leaving the room to running the water only when necessary in the shower and sink. We'll embrace the winter with sweaters and slippers instead of the thermostat and maybe even enjoy frequent candlelight dinners. My contribution is forfeiting the heater at night. I wake up hot anyway.
Once the ideas to cut expenses began to fizzle, my mom suggested we think of ways to increase what we bring in. My imagination went to Depression days when everyone in the family worked primarily so they could give all they earned to the family fund for survival. We're far from that, but how remarkable to think America is sniffing down its own 80-year-old trail.
I enjoy these challenges. They become a game, a road to accomplishment. It's tempting to donate a month to frugality and experiment with my perspective. It just might change me for good. This small piece of history may lead to greater sacrifice with little material result, but I would expect it to produce tenfold the bits of life that can't be measured or purchased. I secretly hope that something will happen that's big enough to once more cause us all to realize that life at its simplest can be life at its most beautiful. For that, I'll lather without the water.

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