Finished Circle of Geese top. Now onto the quilting!
“Abstinence is as easy to me as temperance would be difficult.” Samuel Johnson
Gretchen Rubin over at The Happiness Project is an abstainer. Like Dr. Johnson, quoted above, it's easier for her to give up something entirely than to indulge on occasion. If the choice is frozen yogurt twice a week or not at all, she chooses not at all.
In general, I'm good with moderation, but from time to time I choose abstinence as a way of recalibrating. After my mom was diagnosed with lymphoma last summer, I found myself drinking a glass of wine (or two) on a daily basis, usually while cooking dinner. It wasn't the drinking that bothered me so much as how much I was looking forward to it.
So I decided to stop for a month, to break the habit. In February, I will return to my moderate drinking habits, which means a glass or two over the weekend.
Same with sugar. Much to my amazement, I can go days without sugar. It used to be that I could go a few hours. Then, a few years ago, I gave it up for a long stretch, and the habit was broken. From time to time I abstain for a week or two, to prove to myself that I can.
But you know what's hard for me? Chips of any kind. I can keep cookies in the house, pretzels, crackers, chocolate, ice cream, and as long as they're out of sight, I can ignore them. But if there's a bag of Doritos lurking in a corner somewhere, I will find it and I will eat it. Therefore, chips appear only very rarely in my pantry.
When it comes to being frugal, I'm finding that with a lot of things it's better to abstain: magazines, used books purchased via Amazon.com (too easy to click those buttons in a moment of abandon), trips to Target in general.
The hardest thing is being frugal at the grocery store. I can pass up cookies and bread (easy to make at home, and cheaper), but there's no point in cutting back on breakfast cereal or milk, and fruit and vegetables will always be on my list. Eggs, check. Meat, check. Sometimes I know I can get paper towels or peanut butter cheaper somewhere else, but once I start calculating the price of gas and the value of my time ... it pretty much evens out.
This is not to say that I don't try. We have vegetarian dinners, I stock up on meat when it's on sale, I don't buy much junk. But so far I'm over my frugality budget by about $15 a week. Not horrible, and to be honest, I'm not sure if I can do much better.
What do you abstain from to improve your health, your psyche or your bank balance? What have you given up and are happier for it?