The Year of Getting Back to Basics

Yesterday when I thought over that day's prompt for the Best of 09 Challenge, I was unimpressed by my own choice, at first. It wasn't until I started thinking about today's prompt that I realized why so many of the things I chose over the course of the past year were decidedly un-glamorous. Old stand-bys have a great deal of appeal for me right now, and I'm thinking it might be the same for some of you out there as well. A really bad economy like the one we're going through now makes people rethink some of their choices. Perhaps you'd rather spend your money on something tried and true, rather than risk it on something you potentially won't like.

December 16. Tea of the year. My favorite tea lately has been Lady Gray from Twinings. A perfectly reasonable tea at a reasonable price. It's similar to the familiar and comforting Earl Gray, yet a more delicate variation. Not too strong, nor boring. A tea that you generally can't go wrong with - the kind of dependability that's comforting.

There's been so much written this year about how everyone is worried about their finances this year and how this is ushering in a new era of frugality. Some people have even claimed that the new frugality will last (I don't agree, but that's an opinion for another time). This year I've had to re-learn how to live within my means. This has nothing to do with the economy or job (in)security, this is purely a coincidence... it would have happened regardless of all that. In January I set a target date for getting my own apartment, and it was the only target I hit all year. Nothing was going to get in the way of this target, but, there were some financial compromises that will affect me for a long while.

A bit of advice to anyone who is planning a similar move: if you can stay in your current situation awhile longer, stay & get your debt paid off first. All the way, not just to within a threshold you're comfortable with. Had I waited 5 months and not taken those two short vacations, I'd have paid off my credit card completely and still have some savings. It's pitiful to have to turn down nearly every invitation for dinner, events, drinks, movies, lunch - you name it, if it ain't free I can't afford it.

So about those old stand-bys and living within your means...
December 17. A word or phrase that encapsulates your year. "2009 was about getting back to basics." Because if the first half of the year wasn't about the basics, the second half sure hammered that point home. Be frugal. Plan. Focus. Cut out the excess. Keep, buy, and do only what you absolutely can't be without. Things will get easier someday, but do what you gotta do now, and that will set you up for an even better future.

P.S. Monday I find out my raise for next year (if I even get one). Wish me the best, and I'll be wishing the same for you. I hope everyone out there gets all the prosperity they need and deserve in the next year. Now that would be something worth toasting on Jan. 1!

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