The scenario: After attending a mother-daughter event on Monday, (Working Parents' Conflict: Paycheck vs. School Performance ), I was behind schedule and my seven-day calendar was packed with deadlines. As such, the excursion to my daughter's school and a quick trip to buy an Arizona tea ($1.49) for my daughter represented the last time I have left our apartment building since Monday. Every day I've showered and changed into clean sweat pants, but I've stayed indoors.
Here are the perks of my frugal sweatpants wardrobe:
1. The Worker Bee: I've cranked out several articles.
2. The Reader: I've read 75 percent of The Light Bearer, a 1011-page book by Donna Gillespie about a female warrior during the Roman era. The attraction: If I'm not getting exercise, I can at least read about a woman who stays fit and taut.
3. Ms. Thrifty: I've spent very little money.
4. Vicarious Gladiator: I've watched the American Gladiator championship finale hosted by Laila Ali & Hulk Hogan on NBC via the Internet. The attraction: If I'm not getting exercise, I can at least watch well-trained men and women run around and battle for a title. The physical tests are also inspiring.
5. Anti-Aging Skin Model in Training: My skin looks great. I've given myself frugal facials using honey, tomatoes, garlic, and citrus juice. I slathered on the homemade goop and then continued typing on my laptop while the assorted mixtures worked wonders on my 49-year-old skin. (Today I'm going to smear pulp from an Aloe leaf on my face.)
6. Sugar-free Dieter: I've avoided sugar. With little opportunity to purchase candy, donuts or ice cream treats, I've remained on my no-sugar diet. (I make, of course, an exception for the sugar in my morning coffee).
7. Ocean Breeze: I've enjoyed the ocean view from my porch.
Here's the downside of my self-imposed shut-in status.
1. The Flab Seeker: I missed the weekly Yoga class with the personal trainer that I share with a group of women. Not a smart move: The financial and health costs of neglecting exercise are great.
2. The Flab Seeker, The Sequel: I've also skipped my regular routine of long walks. I have not even gone out to walk my dog. I'm now really terrified to face the scale at the grocery store. Maybe I've stayed in sweats because I don't think that any of my real clothes fit anymore.
3. Dumbstruck: With less contact with the world, I've had a drought of story ideas.
4. Disconnected & Disenfranchised: I've had less opportunity to network. The last time I was in a CVS drugstore, I bumped into a television reporter with whom I am sort of friendly. (We took a non-fiction writing class together through Miami-Dade College.) I was pleased to see her again and I will send her a copy of my book when it's published). I usually meet fun and interesting people when I go out into the world. These contacts usually yield either short-term or long-term benefits or just a friendly smile. But stranded in sweatpants, however, I'm too embarrassed to be seen.
Reality Check & Balance: I'm not really proud of my low spending tally. It feels fake. And I'm not really living frugally if I take cheap shortcuts that diminish the long-term quality of my life. I need to discard the sweatpants, jump back into the world and get some exercise. Meeting deadlines is not important if I sabotage my health.
Sharon Harvey Rosenberg is the author of The Frugal Duchess of South Beach: How to Live Well and Save Money... Anywhere!, which will be published in June of 2008 by DPL Press.