Category: money and happiness
On an overcast day this fall, I checked a few boxes, entered a few numbers, and felt a small but significant weight lift from my shoulders.
(This is how I felt about it.)
1. Pay as much as you can (but not so much that you hate your life)
3. When you travel, do it cheaply
4. Buy a used car – with cash if possible
5. Buy just about everything secondhand
6. Learn to cook
7. Cut the cable and land line
8. Use your library
9. Plan for a cheaper social life
10. Honor the ‘immediate yes’
Edited to add: As with any conversation about finances, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge my privilege in this situation. I’m white. I grew up in a two-income household with parents who encouraged and (slightly) financially supported my education.
If you’ve read Nickel and Dimed or this blog post, you know that it’s actually very hard to save money when you’re really, truly broke. I want to acknowledge that these tips are for those of us fortunate enough to have cable and the occasional fancy cocktail – people who do, in fact, have a bit of money to spare.
And while I appreciate their concern* I’m pretty happy with my life, thankyouverymuch.
I’m happy with my life because I carefully, conscientiously made it awesome.
Like, on purpose. With lists and journals and stuff.
How to live your life on purpose (or at least how I do it)
1. I think about how I want to feel + do things that make me feel that way
Like pretty much every other woman on the internet, I’m a big fan of The Desire Map, Danielle LaPorte’s method for happiness and fulfillment. She encourages those of us who are addicted to our to-do lists and quantifiable goals (“$75K a year with a corner office”) to instead pinpoint a few core desired feelings and then do things that will create those feelings.
So instead of a 15-item to-do list, I think of three things I can do today that will make me feel proud (call my grandma, fix that wobbly chair, go to the gym) and two things I can do today that will make me feel psychologically lean (cancel the Netflix subscription I never use, clean out my junk drawer.)
2. I stopped doing things or hanging out with people who make me feel bad
I’ve never been particularly inclined towards ‘frenemies’ or self-destructive behavior, but I’ve certainly had my share of embarrassment-inducing friends and activities that I did out of obligation or a desire to be The Type Of Person Who Can Make A Souffle.
You know what? People who drag you down and activities that suck you dry are a waste of your time and energy. And who has time for that? Approximately no one.
3. I schedule time to try new things + do things that I love
Yes, I realize it’s not particularly sexy to scrawl ‘1 fun thing’ onto my Every Damn Day list, but if I don’t make Fun Things a priority? I’ll end the day feeling productive and accomplished …. and sort of bored and hateful.
That’s why every year I make a list of new things I want to try and then wrangle my incredibly patient friends into joining me. That’s why I travel three months a year. That’s why I carve time into my day for thrifting and new recipes and reading by the river.
Really, filling my life with things I love is an extremely conscious effort. It’s a daily struggle not to fall down internet hole after internet hole.
4. I plan my social + work life around my introverted nature
Did you know I’m the friendliest, chattiest introvert you’ll ever meet? I’ll introduce myself to strangers, I’m happy to attend events where I know no one, and I can make friends with your throw pillow.
After three hours of social interaction, the light inside me turns off and I need to sit somewhere quiet, by myself. It took me years to realize this about myself – I wasn’t just ‘tired’ or ‘in a weird mood.’ I’m introverted.
Now that I know that, I try to make plans accordingly. I’m not really interested in more than two social obligations a day and if I’m in a big group of people for a long time? I’ll invent some sort of ‘errand’ I ‘need’ to run and then hustle off all by my lonesome for a bit.
How do you live your life on purpose? What’s one thing you could do to add a little intention to your daily life?
*Not really. Mostly I just feel judged and slightly annoyed.
photo by Clem Onojeghuo // cc
No? Weird. Me neither.
Regardless of your income, it’s always fun to enjoy the cheaper things in life, isn’t it?
22 free* things to do when you’re broke
* or very cheap
1. Ride a bike/scooter/motorcycle
Autumn was made for bike rides along the river, filling your basket with goodies from the farmers market. Or with puppies. If you have a friend with a scooter or motorcycle, ask for a ride. Bonus points for taking it on windy roads!
2. Afternoon movie matinee
Because every movie is better if it costs $4.
3. Tuck notes of encouragement into library books
Find the books about business development and leave a note that says “Your business idea is great!” Find the diet books and leave a note that says “You’re gorgeous just the way you are.”
4. Have a picnic (indoors if necessary)
Food tastes better when it’s eaten outside, on a blanket, in the company of ants. Or in the arboretum. Pack up your favorite nibbles and head somewhere lovely and green – here are some great ideas for easy, delicious picnic food.
5. Host a potluck and games night
If you want to have some friends over, but can’t afford footing the bill for a fancy dinner, invite everyone to bring a dish, pull out your favorite old board games and play a few rounds of Trivial Pursuit. Or, really, Girl Talk.
6. Host a clothing swap
Invite your favorite ladies to your place, bringing over the clothes and accessories that they’re no longer feeling to trade with each other. Borrow a few full length mirrors, put on some RuPaul, throw together some cheap appetizers and you’ve got a super cheap, really fun party.
7. Take a public transportation adventure
I have extolled the virtues of bus adventures before, but let’s belabor the point a bit, shall we? Buy a full-day pass on your city’s bus or train line, pack a lunch and your camera and head out to explore the city. Bonus points for getting off at the same time as that looker in the plaid jacket.
Improve your karma, meet cool people and do something fun? That’s a win/win/win, y’all! You’ll obviously get the most out of a volunteer opportunity that corresponds to your interests, so I’d give volunteermatch.org a try. I searched ‘writing’ and found 667 volunteer opportunities!
9. Go to a museum’s free day
It’s always fun to ogle dinosaur bones or paintings, but it’s more fun if it’s free. Check out museumfreedays.org for free days in major cities. In the Twin Cities area, The Walker is free on Thursday nights, The Minnesota Children’s Museum is free the third Sunday of every month, and The Minnesota Institute of Arts and The Weisman are always free!
10. Go to the library
Why pay $7 for the latest Vogue when you can peruse it for free at your library? Check out DVDs, language-learning CDs and Twilight (in the event that you refuse to spend money on that delicious foolishness).
11. Go to an open mic night
Whether you favor a poetry slam, comedy or some tender-hearted singer/songwriters, there’s certainly an open mic night in your city that caters to your whims. Sure, you’ll see some stinkers, but you might also spot the next Lily Allen! Here’s a collection of all the open mic nights in the Twin Cities.
I looooove karaoke. Largely because I’m (erroneously) convinced that I can rock ‘Heart of Glass’ like no other. If you’re too shy to take part, at least you can be entertained by the group of ladies yelling out ‘I Will Survive’ or the fifteen dudes who are going to sing that song about having friends in low places. Here are 10 karaoke songs for bad singers.
13. Engage in a covert, fitting room photo shoot
Dress up in your most impressive outfit and hit up those crazy expensive boutiques where you can’t even afford the socks. Pull a few great outfits off the racks, try them on in those over sized fitting rooms and document the whole thing on your digital camera. This girl has some fantastic photos from doing just that! If you can’t own the clothes, at least you can remember how you look in them.
14. Airport people watching
I’ve spent an abnormal amount of time in airports over the last few years and watching tearful, joyful reunions never, ever gets old.
15. Beauty school spa day
If you’re not afraid to let a supervised student work on you, you can get crazy, crazy cheap salon services. The Aveda Institute in Minneapolis offers $13 haircuts that include a wash, dry, head massage and makeup! For less than the cost of an entree at Applebys!
16. Real estate open houses
Barring marriage to a professional athlete, I will never be able to afford a home in the neighborhood where I currently rent an apartment. But! That doesn’t mean that I can’t stop in at the real estate open houses, check how the other 5% lives and eat a lot of free cookies.
17. Utilize some sidewalk chalk
My nine-year old neighbor is always doing this – drawing and labeling robots and, oddly, sprinklers. Draw a hop scotch on the sidewalk in front of your favorite coffee shop and see how many people will hop through it.
18. Photo scavenger hunt
It’s a great way to spend a weekend afternoon and an even better way to bond with a kid you’re getting to know! Here’s a list to get you started.
19. Attend a cultural events
No, not the opera. Does your city have a large immigrant or refugee community? Check out their events calender and you could find yourself at an awesome Day of the Dead party or an “Auspicious Wrist Tying Ceremony” like I attended a few years ago.
20. Watch the Wizard of Oz while listening to The Dark Side of the Moon
Seriously, that business matches up in an uncanny way. Particularly great for a rainy Sunday night.
21. Buy a Sunday paper to split with a friend, and read it while mulling over a coffee
I love doing this. It’s so much more gratifying than checking CNN repeatedly. You can be those people who say “Listen to this!” or “What’s a five letter word for ‘Egyptian king?'”
22. Get a free pass to a swanky gym
Work out, shmurk out. How about swimming a few laps in the pool, doing a bit of rock climbing and then sitting in the sauna? Yes please! Lifetime Fitness offers free 7 day passes.
What fun things do you do when funds are low? Tell us in the comments!
Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash
It brings me an immeasurable amount of joy to tell people how much my belongings cost.
Here, are my best tips for creating a gorgeous space filled with wonderful, cheap things – but not dying under a pile of bad oil paintings.
And I loved it.
I took so much joy in making that weird, cheap apartment cute! I scoured thrift stores and Craiglist, I repainted and disguised and replaced and I positively