Friday, December 7, 2012

Living Simply - A Challenge

This here might look like a dog's breakfast, but to be honest, in terms of flavor  it's one of the more satisfying foods I've eaten all week. It's a hash of sweet potatoes, ground beef, and onion on pasta. There was some chili paste and some basil in there too, which really helped.

Back on Wednesday, I promised everyone something on leading a simple lifestyle. I came up with this complicated, 18-point plan to describe what I mean. Obviously, that wasn't really living all that simply, then, if it has so many extra rules.

Since then, I decided it would be helpful to live the way I was thinking of for a few days, and now that I have, I think the experiment's working out for the better. Some things I was originally going to do I've left by the wayside, and others I never even thought to include came to the forefront.

Up until recently, I'd had two jobs and a weekly pay-cheque because of it. Because of that, I was used to being rather cavalier with money (and not always within my means). There was always a little more just around the corner, and skipping the odd Wednesday or Thursday supper wasn't all that big a deal, because every Friday would be the next. Skipping out on the groceries also didn't seem like that big of a deal, particularly if the quick fix and cheap high of takeout was on order.

Now, I am pretty proud of myself in that my drug these past few months has been food. My other tastes, such as books and drink, have gone more-or-less to the curb. I've been a good boy. Now that I don't have the extra pittance coming my way, though, there's a little less wiggle in the budget. I have to really behave. Since this is the time of year for self-improvement, I've decided to make a few changes.

I'm creating for myself a Simple Living Challenge.

The rules are appropriately simple - go a year of reducing debt and no delivery. I'm not saying I'll never eat out or swearing off of fast food. I just want to be able to go about my life in a more manageable way.

Interestingly, the way that rule is stated ties in with a number of my goals. I wanted to live a greener life, too. The way I see it, my power bill should be about what it was before when I was splitting it with my brother - granted I still have all the appliances to run, but he had quite a bit of gaming loot. Bringing down the power bill helps me to pay out other things, like my credit card and my accruing back-paid gym membership dues.

I think the interesting part of the challenge will be coming up for strategies to do it. Nobody's noticed this before, but my back-engineering model for generating a grocery list actually causes inefficiencies that damage my ability to make a true savings. From now on, I'm going to approach my fridge like a black-box exam: stock it with the basics, and make whatever the hell I feel from the contents.

Having said that, I now have a strategy of staples-and-options worked out... which I think can feed me for $80 a fortnight. Hard to do with food prices rising... but it's winter, and my good luck with the weather won't hold through February, when I'm going to need some serious-grade bus fare to get work done.

I'm off to go do my math and make my forms. I'll keep you guys posted on how all this works out.

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