I’ve been living with scarcely any money for the last three weeks. I simply ran out of it. It’s a semi-controlled experiment; something half-planned and half-assed. And the results are amazing.
- Do you often go to the kitchen, look in the fridge, and walk away disappointed because there’s supposedly “nothing” to eat? Well… when you do this, you’re 1) not hungry, 2) bored and 3) lazy. Without cash, but with some products stashed in the kitchen and ample time, I’m cooking more than ever – simply because if I don’t, I’ll be hungry. Motivation works wonders: yesterday I baked a pie simply because I found out I had all the ingredients needed. It was the best apple pie I ever ate and the first one I ever made.
- I’m amazed by how little I actually need to spend. This is hard to even describe: recently I couldn’t afford any whims and compulsive purchases and found this had NO EFFECT ON MY HAPPINESS WHATSOEVER. No, wait. It had: I cherish whatever I have much more. I also started paying attention to intrinsic value of things instead of their price tags. A 2008 MacBook? As long as it does the job, it’s okay. Basically, I rejected the consumer approach to life and it didn’t kill me.
- All this craziness is contributing wonderfully to my health & lifestyle. Since I have to pay attention to what I’m eating (due to costs & limited choices), I stopped buying junk food: frozen/convenience stuff, chocolate, sweets, white bread, etc. As a consequence, the less I spend on food, the better my meals become. I know it sounds crazy – with a food budget of $3/day I just can’t afford frozen pizza anymore.
What’s the moral of this story? I don’t know – but it seems to me the Western culture has got it all wrong. Spending is a really bad habit. Cutting ties between spending and pleasure is hard, since it involves not spending for a period of time – but once you’re through, you won’t ever want to go back.