In an effort lately to spend less and save more, my husband and I took a hard look at our regular monthly credit card charges. Largest amongst them was our $50.80 monthly New York Times print subscription. Stopping the thump of the newspaper on our front step each morning would save us $600 a year, we realized.
But this was no small sacrifice.
We both love reading the newspaper. Not a tablet, not a smartphone screen, the actual paper product that, if you’ve done due diligence, leaves your fingers stained black. The one you can read family-style, passing around sections, and tear apart to save a recipe or an op-ed that made you want to stand and applaud. But budget-tightening means sacrificing your darlings, doesn’t it? So, we cancelled our subscription.
Immediately, we noticed our mornings just didn’t feel right. Gone were the “oh my God wait until you read this!” moments that sparked us out of our morning funks. There was no smile from a beautifully composed photo illustration or snide snicker at the latest fad from the Styles section.
Then Saturday came. There was no 5-pound diatribe to skim through, no travel section to remind us of the trips we wish we could take. It was more than we could handle. "I’m in a funk," I told my husband. "And I think it’s because of the newspaper."
"I’m so glad you said that," he replied. "I can’t stand this!" So, the $50 auto payment resumed. The thud on the doorstep returned -- to spontaneous grins. And two people learned the value of small indulgences. Now, granted, the newspaper is one of several splurges I admittedly enjoy. A hand-crafted Jacques Torres chocolate, a fresh manicure and waking up to a still-quiet house are some of my others. But they’re not about things, really. They’re about experiences.
The newspaper edifies and transports me. The chocolate, so small but decadent, forces me to be mindful and savor the flavor. A manicure makes me feel pretty and that quiet house, before anyone can ask "Mom, can you...?" allows me to relax.
"Small indulgences are so powerful because we know they are limited," says Jeanine M. Reed, food and dessert blogger at Small Indulgences. Because it’s small, or brief, the experience is more meaningful. “We aren’t taking it for granted, assuming there’s always more,” says Reed, who specializes in creating petite-sized desserts and confections.
Admittedly, my husband and I rarely read the paper cover to cover, but just having 10 minutes in the morning with it is the small indulgence that helps us feel ready for the day. And in our lives, that is worth the investment.