I probably shouldn't tell you this. I need to be an inspiration to my fellow Cheap Bohemians. Nothing was ever accomplished by whining, and Rome was not built in a day. Neither was Lehman Brothers, but we're just not going to go there.
So I really did fine for the first five days of the Seven-Day Money Fast. I really did. The only money I spent was 35 cents on the parking meter when Miss M and I ran into the library for books. Appropriately enough, my book was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, that paean to turn-of-the-century cheapness, tenement cooking, and library books. I am teaching it, and my copy had already gone missing. I figured I saved $15 that night.
I'd ordered a ton of groceries and filled up the car before starting last Friday. We ate in, planned ahead, and generally the whole experience began to feel very much like a fast does: after a few days of not spending money, I didn't miss it.
Then Soccer Practice struck. I had to pick up two young girls at 5 pm and get them to a soccer field by 6 pm. One girl has a peanut allergy, and the other (mine) was liable to scream if she saw one more chicken sandwich with mayonnaise this week.
I was going to have to spend money. I took them to a place I had a coupon for. I paid for them, but I ate free. Technically, I am still money fasting even if they are not.
Don't look at me like that. You knew what I was when you agreed to follow me.
So, $18 later, we go to practice, and all is well. The real problem came after.
"Mom," from the back seat.
"It's the Chinese Moon Festival tonight."
"It is? How cool."
"People celebrate, and they eat moon cakes."
"Moon cakes. How lovely."
I can't really explain this next part. With money already burning its way out of my pocket that night, the little voice inside me said, what can the harm be? I found myself pointing the car toward Chinatown.
We found a little store on 6th Street, and charmingly enough, we got the last box of moon cakes. The lady said the price so quietly I had to ask her to repeat. Also because I could not believe what I'd heard.
"How much again?"
"Twenty-two dollars," she said.
Four delicious moon cakes later, I am 40 dollars in the hole for the week. I have broken my vow, ruined my credibility, and made you doubt me.
It was worth it.
[image of piggy mooncakes, plus a great recipe, via Château des Rêves]