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10 late bills and half a euro to my name

November has been financially hard. Why would it be, I wonder. Oh if it isn’t the result of my constant indiscretions.

But it’s nothing that you and I don’t know already.

As illogical as it sounds, to somehow mitigate the increasingly onerous weight of my financial obligations, I actually called several financial institutions to see if I can get a line of credit with them – but I can’t. Unless I go to an actual loan shark – and I don’t have such plans – I can’t borrow any more money.

Good.

But it also means that I have practically zero “variable” money left. And by “variable” I mean anything that’s not a bill or a payment. Groceries, fuel, cat food, hygiene products, medicine – anything you can think of that’s not a bill or a regular payment is a “variable” to me right now. So if I can cut something out of these variables, then I will cut something out of these variables.

Essentially what it will be is a no-spend challenge, except it’s less fun because I’m not trying to save money, I’m trying to survive on what money I have coming in. And I believe I’ve mentioned it somewhere, but I have a good amount coming in. This is not an income problem. I’m just an idiot. One can make a million and spend a million and a hundred thousand and still grasp at straws trying to make ends meet. And while I don’t make a million, my problem is still not a low wage or underemployment. Like I said. I’m just an idiot.

So most expenses will go. I will keep three of my entertainment subscriptions because I need something to keep me sane, and honestly, they are not the problem. Even after all my bills I have a decent chunk of money for Netflix, so to speak. The problem for me is random discretionary spending here and there, which I shall from now on refer to as “money littering”. Two coffees out a day, take-out breakfast/ lunch/ dinner, another notebook that I’m never going to get around to using, another book to add to my pile of literal thousands of books that I bought before and have yet to read. A new foundation, tenth nude lipstick, eight nail polishes and fifteen sheet masks because I’m like a kid in a candy store when I see these things. Three tops that I buy without trying them on because I liked the cut of them. Five cakes that I buy the next day, because none of the tops fit and I need to make myself feel better.

And all of that is peppered by me actually buying groceries with good intentions of cooking my next lunch, and then just letting them all literally rot on the counter or in the fridge. Because the cakes I ate left me exhausted and unhappy, so I decide to give myself a break and start the next day.

I am insane. My mind works, truly, but sometimes it works against me.

Here’s my plan.

I know it’s all common sense. And some of it won’t be. Some of it will be just me being too easy on myself again. Trust me. I’ve been on the other side of the screen as well, reading blogs of people who advise you to economise by sewing a button back on a shirt instead of buying a new shirt. This reads like that, I’m sure.

But here’s my plan.

1. Have a fun goal to save towards.

Mine is Foil Arms and Hog performing in one of the cities that’s close enough for me to consider a trip there, and also a tablet to increase the quality of my illustrations

2. Keep the non-fun goals at the forefront of my mind as well, but try not to dwell.

This is likely the hardest part, the not dwelling part. The non-fun goals are the obvious debt reduction, the washing machine, the bathroom reno, and an operation that I keep postponing, but really should just get done already.

3. …. ?

4. Profit.

(I jest. This is not a manifesting blog.)

3. Reduce the variable expenses by doing the following

a. hypermile. So no more speeding 120/hr over the bridge for me. Try to get a full tank at the start of the month and stick to that tank until the end of the month. After my car got switched over to stick shift it started getting amazing mileage, so it shouldn’t be an issue. I hardly drive except to and from work.

b. cook at home. I’m a good cook, and I have skills that allow me to just shop for cheapest ingredients and make palatable dishes from them. Being a big aficionado of simple/ poor folk/ peasant food – how classist of me – helps greatly. I’d rather have potato stew over something fancy nearly every day of the year. But should I desire something fancy, I likely have a cookbook with a recipe or I can google that recipe and make it at home. Unless the dish is especially delicate or fancy, I can cook it.

c. read the books I have. Technically speaking even the ones that I have as ‘currently reading‘ would be enough to keep me busy for half a year

d. pace myself with comics. I won’t drop them, they make me too happy, but I will have to read them much more slowly and be on the look-out for free points/ coins/ ink/ whatever

e. no more toys and extra treats/ snacks for cats! My children will get an allowance, just like I will. I’ll get them their cheese bits within that allowance.

f. shop around for cheaper foodstuffs

g. no-spend for beauty and hygiene. Obviously I will still wash my hair and shave my pits. I’ll just use the shampoos and creams I already have a-plenty instead of buying new ones

h. one coffee out per week, if that. I’ve got a nespresso machine and a dolce gusto one, I’ve got a moka pot, a french press, I can do drip, I can do dalgona. I can even do matcha almond latte, despite the ridiculous price of both matcha and almond milk. It would – OH REALLY – still be cheaper than getting a matcha almond latte in a coffee shop. The price of two coffees out is enough to cover 200g of good beans or ground coffee. Two more coffees out, and I’ve covered 3.5L milk I need to make my lattes. It’s basic maths. I know how it works, I just don’t do it.

i. make a meal plan and grocery shop once a week. It may have to be two-three runs to different shops (see point 3.f.), but it should be done in one day

4. Record all income and all expenditure with obsessive detail

a. keep a private hand-written notebook
b. do a graph of income, outcome, and eventually savings to get an overview of a longer period
c. do public audits of various points of this list here on the blog

5. Use cash for everything but bills and regular payments that are easier to just schedule via online banking.

6. Leave card at home.

7. Only take money that I intend to spend that day with me.

8. Increase income by doing one or all of the following

a. tutoring English and Spanish
b. Tarot readings
c. photo and illustration selling via RedBubble
d. book cover designs via seller platforms
e. any paid overtime that might be thrown out at work
f. product photography for local businesses; see if I can get some portrait gigs as well

9. Keep myself busy and keep the dopamine coming with something useful

a. keep up with this blog
b. start vlogging again
c. maintain Spanish and Romanian
d. get to a comfortable level of German
e. faster progress in Korean and Japanese
f. piano practice
g. Skillshare classes for whatever sudden interest I get, e.g. woodburning
h. journal the fuck out of my days etc. I LOVE keeping notebooks
i. take walks to take photos to sell and also to bring that blood pressure and weight down.
j. write and illustrate my magnum opus

10. Get back to zero waste principles

a. take good care of the things I own
b. eradicate food waste
c. shop second-hand for anything I actually need
d. mend clothes
e. see if I can use something I already own for this or that task instead of immediately rushing out to buy

I may or may not come back to this post to edit various points, but likely I will just extrapolate on the matter in other posts.

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