Most of my friends have a passion for something and they can write fairly well.
I just went shopping for food for the first time in several weeks.
When I say shopping, I mean, spent more than ~ $3.
It felt so good to be able to plan GOOD meals with scrumptious stuff, and not just buy the least amount of food to not starve.
Even in as little time as 10 days, I started getting conditioned.
Tonight, for instance, I walked through the cheese section at Whole Foods and looked at $12 cheddars from Scotland. It felt perverse, actually, to even think of spending that kind of money after eating lentils and skipping meals.
So the weekend wasn’t nearly as painful as I had hoped.
My plan was to stay in and kind of get others to join me eating lentils and avoiding cover charges.
But my challenge didn’t appear attractive and on Saturday and Sunday night I ended up on a barstool with someone buying me drinks, which just made me feel like a mooch.
So I left off the story when I had $10.
But then Monday came about and I was starving so I bought a $5.50 burrito for breakfast.
This morning I ate oatmeal at work and then spent $3.00 for lunch on a piece of pizza.
$1.50. Not enough to buy another meal.
So I raided my food cabinet and found a can of soybeans and cooked them in stewed tomatoes. It didn’t look like a lot of food, so I found some stale tortilla chips (too old to eat) and put them in the pot thinking I’d get free calories out of them.
Tomorrow is my last day in self-imposed poverty. I think I can get through with my left-overs, by eating some more oatmeal at work, and maybe buying a bagel or something.
So last night I went out to a bar across from work for a co-worker’s birthday party.
I had a PBR ($3) and gave a $1 tip.
There were a few rounds of Car Bombs on the company tab which I found very unappealing, but I thought, “hey, it’s free” so I threw them down.
Today we had the previously mentioned free lunch at work. I might not need another meal today.
Can I make it till Wednesday?
Now that it’s the weekend, I’m more worried about getting drinks than meals.
I was in NYC last week and returned Monday night.
After another run of spending way too much money on dinner and drinks with friends, I decided to force myself into ten days of “poverty”.
I decided on Monday that I would make it ten days on the money in my pocket ($45).
(I blew all but about $80 in my checking account and decided not to move any over from savings for the below exercise. I do have a credit card to bail me out at any moment if needed, but I’m hoping to make it through without it).
I am embracing this as a challenge like climbing a mountain, and I realize there are some design flaws here (I have a place to live, a car, some food at home, so this is not REAL poverty), but nonetheless, for me to live on $45 for ten days takes some work.
So here is how it has gone:
First, I had to get to JFK. Fortunately, I had a Metro Card that had enough to get me there free.
But then, back in SF, I had to cough up $5.70 to get from BART to my apartment, taking me down to about $39.
The next morning I woke up really hungry (having skipped dinner) and so went out and bought a burrito for $5.50.
That night (Tues) I used some lentils and canned tomatoes to make a large lentil stew.
I ate that for the next two meals and then started really wanting something else.
Yesterday (Wed) I spent about $10 on a sandwich, macaroni salad and a pickle. (love pickles). I knew it was a reckless decision, but my cravings got the best of me.
Last night, not desiring the lentils, I spent another $10 on a burrito and chips.
Today, realizing how fast I am burning through my money, I had the lentils for both breakfast and lunch. Then I raided the snack cabinet in the office and had 2 bags of potato chips, a bag of peanuts, and a pack of Starburst. Oh, then a chocolate bar.
I’m planning on using about half of the remaining money to make up some large, hearty meals (pasta, stews).
If I want to drink this wkend, I am going to steal a few bottles of wine from work. I’ve been eyeing my change jar, and I’m not quite sure how that fits into the rules of the game. Found money or cheating?
Hopefully after this exercise is over with, I’ll be less of a loose cannon with money.
I expect that I’ll slowly start heading back to my old ways, but I think it will take some time. I’ve had a few stretches of time where I’ve been fairly hungry and didn’t have enough to be impulsive, which is the luxury you have when you have cash in your pocket.
I’ll be updating this tomorrow, but I expect a slow day of expenditures since we get a free lunch at work.
I found myself telling a lot of people the following this week:
“The most important thing in life, in any given situation, is necessity.”
It’s weird to have to remind a living, breathing organism of that.
But that goes to show how many layers of fat there are between us and our pulse.
The concept that keeps me driven every morning is necessity.
It might sound weird, corny, or twisted, but I like to scare myself with this concept.
I keep as little money as I can in my wallet.
The prospect of consequence vs. gold is the first point in the decision tree.
You have to deal with consequence before expansion.
And so I create artificial deadlines for my creative projects because I react to them.
My greatest fear in life is losing my drive and ambition. The easiest way to preserve these qualities is to keep yourself poor.
I am sure there are better ways, but until I figure them out, I want to bleed a bit every day.