The new year dawned cold and cloudy, in grand Midwest fashion. It was in the single digits when I got up. Last night we watched the ball drop in Times Square. We talked to Aaron and Brit for a little bit on the phone. Otherwise, we were watching movies, eating frozen pizzas, wings, taquitos, and the annual pan of bratwurst and sauerkraut. Where did that tradition come from? It was always there at Nana and Pap’s house when it was the NYE destination of choice. We listened to fireworks going off around town as Habibi lit out for the bathroom to cower in primal fear of TEOTWAKI. Her memory isn’t long enough, lacking the use of reason, to look backward to all the other times the world was ending with a flourish of noise and light and yet somehow kept rolling along.
But I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to use my money in the coming year. I’ve never been good with money. Sometimes I’ve been way worse, and sometimes not so bad, but never what anyone would consider great. And I haven’t been intentional. I’ve always been an earn and spend kinda guy. A guy who always put his own wants first. If I wanted something, I bought it. I break the bank with fast food, impulse purchases, and cigarettes. We’ll take a stroll down that side path in a few minutes.
I quit smoking today. My history with nicotine goes back to when I was twelve, smoking pilfered Swisher Sweets cigars with the neighborhood kids in the woods on the edge of town. Then in my late teens when I worked as an evening drive-time DJ at a tiny FM radio station. It continued on and off through my military career. I quit twice for several years. That last time lasted around seven years until I took it up again in October of 2019 while going through a stressful short sale on a house. I smoked a pack a day for two years and two months on the last go. I intentionally gave it up this time for a plausible reason. Plausible in the legal sense. Cigarettes are expensive. I was a daily buyer, usually at the little Marathon station down the street from my house. It’s managed by a family from India, and they’re super nice. But I would usually buy a coffee or a Peace Tea or Snapple along with the cancer sticks for a daily total of $10.
Ironically, in the self-licking ice cream cone sort of way, I found it difficult to contribute substantially to the collection plate at Mass each Sunday. I found it easy most days to contribute substantially to the tar buildup in my lungs, but not to my parish.
I’ve also been a connoisseur of the available fast food offerings in every locale I’ve ever lived. I probably spend more each week for fast food than we do on groceries, so that is another “outgo stream” running counter to my “income stream” that traditionally wrecks my finances.
I’m not going to do that in 2022.
I did the cigarette math in my head. Seventy dollars a week for combustible shredded foliage, or $3,650 a year.
What if instead, I put that in the collection basket each week?
Physical money is more real to me than online banking, so since no interest is going to compound, I’m going to take ten dollars per day out of my checking account and put it in an envelope. And I’ll come back here to report what I did with it.