dollar signThis is Day 10 of trying to spend no money and prune my file cabinet drawers (I decided to do both.) It’s been an unusual stretch of time because I’ve been out of town for 6 of the days and had company for 3 other days. Jim and I spent several hundred dollars on a weekend contradance (hotel, meals, and gas) but it didn’t count. I had decided that money spent on food, housing, or transportation would be exempt. I then traveled to lead a 3-day workshop. My workshop hosts provided free housing and meals. Once home, house guests arrived and took us out to dinner one night. Our parish provided Soup Suppers on two Wednesdays. Tonight’s Lenten Fish Fry will cost some money but I’ll count that as a donation.

Days 365+29 CaduceusDid I spend money on any non-allowed items? Sort of.
$10.00 Donation to foreign missions on Ash Wednesday collection
$  7.50 My toe was hurting so I bought a pad. I justified this as a medical expense
$  5.00 Lenten Parish Fish Fry. I consider this a donation
$22.50 Total

With my newly revised criteria (now allowing donations and medical expenses) I’m still at 0.

What did I learn?


  • I benefitted from other people’s generosity (free housing and meals) Yes, I also provided free housing and meals to our house guests but I probably gained more than I gave. People who are genuinely poor generally don’t have friends who have much more than they do. Social service agencies are their “friends.”
  • I am privileged to do ministry in which offering hospitality is a common expectation. I have friends who are happy to treat me. I don’t have to ask for it. It can be humbling to have to ask for friendship or hospitality.
  • Yes, I donated to our parish, but I also didn’t have to pay for the Soup Suppers.


  • Since I’m fasting on Fridays, I chose not to eat anything at the restaurant Jim and I went to when we were out of town.
  • Learning to wait. There were several things I would have normally bought without a second thought, but this Lent I forced myself to wait. This helped me understand the plight of people on a limited income more personally. My voluntary waiting is a small token of being in solidarity with them. For example:
    • When I was in the drug store to get my toe pads, I noticed a cream blush cosmetic that I had been looking for. Fortunately, they didn’t have it in the color I wanted so I didn’t buy it. Besides, I figured I could probably order it online when I got home. Then I realized that part of what it means to be poor is that I can’t just buy something when I want it. To be true to my Lenten commitment, I will need to wait 5 more weeks till I order it online. Fortunately, I have internet access and a credit card to do this with when my waiting is over.
    • A second similar experience happened today when I was at a pharmacy that happened to be selling my favorite Papas Easter eggs. I figured I’d just buy them now since they were on sale and often stores are out of stock by Easter. I was about to pay when I remembered my “Don’t spend money” commitment.
    • I also realized that if I were really poor, I probably would just put up with the sore toe until it got worse and by then I might need to see a doctor. It’s much cheaper to prevent a medical problem than to pay to rectify it later.
  • Walking to the Post Office, pharmacy, and bank with Jim. It was cold! This was partly for exercise and to give Jim companionship, but I noticed people along the way who were waiting for the bus or walking because of necessity, not a Lenten resolution.

The file cabinets
Since I was only home with discretionary time for 2 days, I didn’t get to prune any file cabinet drawers. Hopefully next week. There are 23 file drawers waiting for me.