We enter a new age of frugality

J. has not gone to work for three days now. So far so good. One former workmate wrote to inform her that things were falling apart in her absence: he’d spent the day with his fly undone, to which J. would surely have alerted him. Another colleague bemoaned J.’s absence at a boring meeting they would have previously endured by texting each other.

J. and I have not been at odds either, yet. We may be sharing space but we’ve been like two ships passing in the day. It’s not like I sit at home all day twiddling my thumbs, or at least not anymore. I’m run off my feet volunteering now that as J. has stopped working. Purely coincidental.

During our fleeting moments together, we’ve been discussing ways to cut our costs now that our income is limited. We need to monitor our spending carefully, and we will need to make some sacrifices.

One of the first things J. did was to program the heat to rise at 7:15 instead of 6:15 a.m., with the hope that we will all start sleeping later. That means you, Jelly. For years, Jelly has confused the heat kicking in for a morning alarm.

Without prompting or badgering, I have shortened my showers. But I’m not trying to reduce our water bill; I’m ensuring that I don’t incite J.’s ire by draining the hot water tank before she has her turn. Let’s call this what it is: self-preservation.

My Great Sugar Revolution may be saving us money as well. No stopping at the penny candy machines at the grocery store (those quarters add up), and no dipping into the wine-gum bin for my 6 dinky treats. Yet another reason to eat clean.

J. has also been cutting her food costs now that she’s lost access to the work cafeteria. Except her cafeteria served much better, and cheaper, meals than we could ever throw together at home. Perhaps this is a false economy?

But J.’s most awe-inspiring cost-saving shift occurred the other night as we readied for bed. You all know I have diligently flossed since the Great Dental Care Reform a while back, following years of ignoring my tartar buildup. I continue to floss at bedtime. Sure, I should floss after each meal, but goal setting must be realistic and attainable, or it’s destined to fail. Plus three flossings a day would increase the cost of supplies.

J., in contrast, has never been a flosser, largely because she’s never needed to be. In addition to her slim physique, her lack of age-appropriate cellulite or face wrinkles or age spots (her increasingly grey hair aside), J. has magic tartar-repelling teeth. She scores 100% on every dental checkup without even trying. I’ve come to believe her teeth are self-cleaning, just like our oven.

The other night, out of nowhere, I caught J. flossing. In shock, I said: “We haven’t had corn on the cob for months! Whassup?” J. explained that she didn’t want her teeth to fall out since we’ve lost our superior dental coverage. But new habits die hard; it was a one-night flossing stand.

Perhaps my greatest contribution to our new frugality will be providing J. with tips on sustained habit change. Let’s just say I have both professional and personal expertise.

Woman's face from nose down, she is flossing and smiling

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