Frugal February. Again.
It is a strange turn of events that brings me to a deeper version of the annual Frugal February discipline this year. When we launched this family campaign in 2001, my husband had just had a paycheck bounce, and we ended up with far less income that month as the company tried to regroup and recover. He left that company a few weeks later. He found new job quickly, and things seemed much more secure. Until now. That job - that company - was the one that laid him off in September.
Now we've just spent over four months in flux, and it's February again. I also wrote about our Frugal February practice last year. You can read that post here.
This year, we've already been cutting out extras for the past 21 weeks, so it's hard to find more frugal disciplines to include. I decided that, rather than ask my family to cut back any more, I'd give myself a personal challenge and leave it at that. The challenge: to give up coffee for the month. This is an experiment I've wanted to attempt for several years. Our new situation seemed like a good reason to take the dare. It's mostly to attempt a new level of focus and discipline. But I am also curious if I'll notice any positive side effects of this fast. To be fair, I also realized that we spend a sturdy amount on coffee each month. It's not entirely a physiological study I'm attempting, but also a financial curbing for these 28 days.
Anticipating that the withdrawals could be debilitating, I decided to take a gradual approach to prepare for the fast. Starting in the middle of January, I began cutting back on my daily consumption of coffee. First by setting an earlier coffee curfew - "no coffee after noon". Then I moved the time to 10am. Finally, over the last days of January, I was down to "one cup after breakfast". And then there was none!
My first few days were awkward. My head felt fuzzy and I hit a brain fog daily at 4pm. Since then, I haven't had too many harsh symptoms. I'm actually quite surprised. What I have noticed is that I miss coffee on a sentimental and social level. I miss the routine of sipping coffee with my husband and sons; of sitting briefly in a coffee shop before heading into the office; of chance meetings with friends as I pick up beans for the weekend.
It seems that coffee is more than just a drink. It's also part of my sense of community. It's been central to the way I engage with others. I'm not sure that's good or bad. It just is.
I'm nearing the midway point of the fast. I hope to have more revelation or sense of benefit by the end of the month.