Last month I took a budget vacation…
As in, a vacation from my budget.
I’ve been a pretty avid budgeter for about 3 years now. It’s the thing that first got me hooked on personal finance. And as much as I know (and I really do…) that it’s not the ‘most fun ever’… I kind of love it.
But the start of this year taught me something I didn’t really know before…
Budgeting isn’t fun at all when you’re not making any money. (more…)
So, since I’m not really rolling in cash these days, I decided to try to see if I could cut back a bit in January. Now… my budget doesn’t have all that many things that can be cut, and my landlord didn’t seem too keen on renegotiating the rent. So I set my sight on food costs.
My perceived success, as a budgeting champion, over my foe…. food overspending!!
I’d cut most of the eating out and tried to limit my grocery spending to 55 dollars a week, which is quite a bit less than normal.
It seemed like such a good idea. It would force me to be creative, and really shop deals; To make big meals at home, instead of going out for unhealthy treats. Plus if I succeeded I would get to feel like a champion budgeter, a master of the frugal lifestyle.
But somehow, it doesn’t feel at all like I thought it would. (more…)
January is over.
How did that even happen?
No matter how many trips to the gym you missed, or other resolutions that you haven’t quite gotten to… it is indeed finished.
And I feel the need to do a bit of a recap.
A lot of personal finance blogs do monthly net worth updates, but that’s not something that I’m really interested in.
Of course, I’m endlessly fascinated by how much money other people have (sometimes it makes me sad), and I totally understand how it can be a useful tool to keep themselves accountable (although I suspect they’re deliberately trying to make me regret my life choices… thanks, guys).
But I don’t have a lot of money. And therefore I’m going to pretend that my recap is taking some sort of moral high road…
Here’s the thing – I don’t think it matters how much money you have, as long as you’re using it to support the life that you want.
Sounds high roady to me! And actually pretty true.
Now, it could be that I’m just afraid of getting rich. But I’m choosing to believe that it’s not just me and that there are more of us who aren’t necessarily looking for wealth for wealth’s sake, but instead are seeking a balanced, stable, fulfilling life.
That’s the life I want to have, and the life I want to help you have, too.
Yes, before you come at me with your pointy pointy words, money can be a big help with all that… but I truly feel that sharing a report of my net worth doesn’t actually tell the whole story.
So here’s what I’m going to do instead. (more…)
*chapters do not have to be read in order. Just dive in*
When I started cutting back on spending, I developed one odd form of rebellion. I wouldn’t spend as much on clothes, I would cut back on eating out, I stopped taking cabs… And I started buying scratchers (those fun little lottery scratch and “win” things you see at every corner convenience store).
There was a ritual to it.
I’d walk down to the end of my street, and buy two: one had to be bingo themed, and the other one I’d switch up. I’d go for the middle-of-the-line ones, in the 3 −5 dollar range, because I thought there’d be no way the 1 dollar ones ever win.
Then, with my scratchers safely tucked in my coat pocket, I’d buy myself a coffee (another sweet luxury), and walk down to the beach. Now this is not the beach you’re imagining, it’s a Toronto beach, and it’s not summer. I’d sit on a bench, all bundled up and look out at the water, sipping my coffee.
And for the next ten minutes, I’d just dream of what I would do with that 50,000 dollars. (more…)
It finally got me. After avoiding it through most of the season, one wily cold bug snuck its way past my defences and sent me packing to my bed. Oh well. It’s never to early in the year to spend a few days in bed… right?
So there I was, in bed with my box of tissues watching the Golden Globes, when my (totally legal!) stream got unfairly shut down and I was forced to turn to the embrace of my ever-constant friend… Netflix.
In a delicate place, and not really wanting to be stressed out by the antics of those fast-talking Gilmore Girls, I found my way to the documentary section and settled on “Living On One Dollar”; a film made by a couple of international development students who go to Guatemala and try to live on the average local income: 1 dollar a day. So yeah, basically the equivalent to watching drunken celebs congratulate each other and their altruistic industry, I’d say.
The movie is exactly what you’d expect. Wide-eyed college guys learning lessons. Heartbreaking local stories. And the cutest children ever who are just so eager to learn.
But the number stuck with me. 1 dollar a day. That’s the international poverty line. So many people live precariously hovering around that line. And here I am talking about how poor I am.
I’m not poor.
I’m not even close to poor.
I am rich! Not only in time and money, but in the wealth of choices that have been afforded to me all my life just by being lucky enough to be born where I was.
There’s very little most of us can do to understand, truly understand, what it means to be poor… what it means to struggle in the ways that so many people in the world struggle.
So it’s hard to know what to do when faced with the earnest faces of those children. How do you help? Where do you even start?
Practically, I’m inspired to give in some way. (I went down the rabbit hole on micro-loans… which I’m super pumped about… definitely more about them later.)
But as for the day to day, I just want to be a ton more grateful. And to stop using the words broke, or poor. Ya, I know, it may seem trite and like not nearly enough, but that’s what I’ve got.
The artist life can be a struggle, and a bunch of that comes from having limited resources, But before I start in on the good fight (stretching every dollar), I’m going to say a hearty thank you for having so damn much.
And then live like the richest man I know.