On January 1, 2016, I started a project I called The Great Money Experiment. I planned to focus on avoiding giving money to Big Business in a certain industry—or a specific budget category—every month. I even had thoughts that maybe I would write a book about this adventure when it was all said and done.
I really got into it the first month, making some changes in how we invest our money, but mostly realizing that it is impossible to avoid Big Business and be in the stock market. It was sobering.
In February, I enrolled in an MBA program and started teaching as an adjunct on top of my day job and existing activities. I continued to execute my plan as best I could, but finding time to do the necessary research was difficult. I managed to hang in there through June, when I focused on transportation (not a big challenge in our walkable, bikable little town).
The project I had been so excited about became a chore.
July was taken hostage by an impending move to Washington D.C. for my husband’s sabbatical. I spent an entire week going through everything we own and (loosely) following Marie Kondo’s “spark joy” approach, aka the KonMari Method, to decide what to hold on to and what to discard. July became decluttering and donating month, rather than the next budget category on my list.
The Great Money Experiment fell apart even further a couple of weeks ago, when I found myself needing compost filters, a tongue scraper, laundry mesh bags, and mattress covers—all at once. Out of sheer efficiency, I placed my order with Amazon, guilt washing over me.
I felt like a fraud.
It made me think, perhaps an absolutist approach to spending money isn’t healthy or realistic. In fact, perhaps an absolutist approach to anything isn’t the best way to go about life.
I decided to cancel my project. Yes, that’s right. I decided to cancel my project. This is highly irregular for me. I often stick with projects even when I can tell the outcome is not going to have the value I imagined at the outset. It’s a deficiency I actively work to improve. So this is good practice.
I knew early on that this wouldn’t be my next book project. Sure, the research was interesting, but I realized I didn’t want to write a book about not doing something—not giving money to Big Business. I also didn’t want to write so much about me. And maybe I didn’t want to place myself on a pedestal, from where there was only one way to go (down).
Why am I telling you this? Because life happens and projects fail. Something is interesting for a while, then it’s not. That’s okay. I’m not perfect, but neither are you. All we can do is our best—and sometimes it’s not enough. That’s okay too.
I’m not going to write the next best-selling stunt book about Bucking Big Business (this was my working title), but I will write here on a variety of topics, coming back to a few key themes (at least for now!):
- Mental health as a social justice issue
- Balancing slow living and social change
- Building resilient, sustainable communities
We’re all just trying to make sense of this life. This is how I do it. I write.
Thanks for reading.