Near the end of last year, I was invited to join a ’25 Club.’
Have you ever heard of one? It’s a social club – or group (it’s pretty informal) – with a mandate to gather once a month to socialize. But there’s a twist, and this is the clincher: One lucky lady (ours is all women) leaves at the end of the evening with $300 in her pocket that she must (must!) spend on herself before the next month’s meeting.
Brilliant, isn’t it? Our group, which met for the first time last November, has 12 members – one for each month of the year. Each time we meet we all bring $25 to put into the pot. One name is drawn, and that person takes the lot. Of course, once you’ve won your name is not put back into the draw, so everyone is guaranteed to get $300 once a year.
The rule is, the winner of the cash can only spend it on themselves – no bills are to be paid or savings accounts padded – and the winner becomes the next month’s host, at which time they must show or report back on what they spent the money on.
For obvious reasons, contributions are expected with or without attendance for each yearlong commitment.
The windfall is only one aspect of the club. After all, anyone could put $25 a month aside and end up with $300 at the end of the year – which is, essentially, what the 25 Club makes you do. Other ones I’ve heard of talk up the camaraderie of the group, as members have a chance to listen, express, kvetch or just imbibe in the company of like-minded females.
I did a story on another 25 Club about five years ago. The women I spoke to from the group hailed the unconditional support that they had received as their favourite part of the experience. While most of them only saw each other once a month, the group had helped its various members through deaths, divorces, hangovers, menopause, boyfriends, career changes and basic PMS.
I remember thinking, at the time, that it would be cool to start one. But, as with my book club aspirations, I just never got around to it. So I was elated when my sister’s friend started one, and invited me to join.
Aside from my sister, I didn’t know the other women very well at all – although there were only three that I had never met before. Our demographics don’t have a big range – most of us are in our 30s, mothers, working at least part time and churchgoers. In our few months together we’ve shared our lives from new business ventures to adoption trials and (eventually) successes, a birth and a new pregnancy. And I’m looking forward to watching as our individual personalities are revealed even more and – if loosely – intertwined.
Last night, I was the lucky winner and came home with a jar full of fives, twenties and a bit of coinage. For months now, I’ve contemplated a whole slew of ideas – from a spa day to a theatre subscription, a weekend away, a gym membership, some new wardrobe items, or maybe an extreme makeover for my hair.
And I must confess that I didn’t wait so patiently for my first indulgence. About two months ago I bought a hand bag that I fretted would be gone before I won my money (although, to play fair I’ve kept it stashed in my closet until the money was reimbursed and it was “officially” mine. Time to take it out!).
As for the other purchases I plan to make, watch this space. All will be revealed next month, after I host the next 25 Club meeting.
In the mean time, what would you spend $300 on?
– Story and photo by Lori-Anne Poirier