The Big T and I are not extravagant people, but it is still alarming how quickly money disappears. I don’t just mean on the big things (like insurance premiums — gasp), but all the small stuff that plastic cards and years of living in relative financial comfort have rendered invisible.
So, while T is away on business for ten days, I’ve put away my bank and credit cards, banned all internet shopping and am going cash-only. I’ve picked $100 as my budget for the period, since it’s a nice easy number to deal with.
Let me emphasize: this is NOT an attempt to “experience” poverty or real hardship. All the big bills will still be paid by direct debit, I have access to money for emergencies, and I’m starting from a position of comfort and abundance. I have gas in my car, food in the pantry, a well-equipped kitchen and an (insulated) roof over my head.
I’m hoping that by only having cash, I will be more aware of how much things costs, more mindful of my actual needs, less wasteful, and perhaps more innovative in finding alternatives to throwing money at a problem.
The first couple of days proved to be easy. I had a list of projects that needed my attention and I just didn’t go out. There were plenty of ingredients for meals in the fridge and pantry and I’ve eaten well.
Today is rubbish collection day and we were out of rubbish bags. We don’t actually produce much waste for the Council collection, but what’s there stank a bit, so I went shopping.
The garlic was essential; we’d run out. The broccoli and milk probably constitute luxuries — the former will make a nice change from home-grown silverbeet and kale, while the latter enables my daily flat-white fix (unless I run out of cash AND coffee beans before T gets home). The potato and kumara are proof that I’m not immune to impulse buying though — I’ve wanted to try making rewena paraoa for a while, but I don’t HAVE to do it this week.
On one hand, this project/experiment/challenge is a bit disingenuous — I have a safety net that’s not available to people who are genuinely trying to survive on very low incomes.
But on the other hand, if I can make do with less — less money, less stuff, less waste — then that is a good thing.
Small change for big changes perhaps.