Downsizing my life.

Yesterday I went on a purge. I cut my cellphone bill by a whole $17 dollars per month and have hopes of abandoning it completely.  I put one of my great loves up for sale: Vespie the Vespa.  My credit cards have lived in Vespie for the past 2 months, and even with all this, I’m looking at 4 more years of school debt!  Who does OSAP think they’re helping anyway?  Why oh why can’t we have free post-secondary education like Europe?

I want to travel, take pictures, and be free to live anywhere my heart desires. I want to see my lovely Caroline get married in South Africa, visit my cousin in Sydney, and escape every single Canadian winter I can!

In order to do all this, I’ve got to rebel against society, and if it’s one thing I do well, it’s just that.  I’m rebelling against social drinking, social eating, and spending $40 on a night out at the movies.  I’m rebelling against Bark and Fitz, health food stores, pizza pizza, bottled water, Starbucks, and marketers in general.

Lately I’ve been reading books by Seth Godin: Purple Cow, All Marketers Are Liars, etc.  and he’s got me thinking about all of the mundane purchases I make every single day.  He talks about storytelling, and how when we buy a product, we’re really buying into a story.  We buy things because we want them.  Things make us feel good.  Rarely do we actually need something.  We buy a Starbucks coffee because walking into Starbucks makes us feel special.  We buy new shoes and bags because they’ll make us cool.  Every time I entertain the idea of making a purchase, I think about Seth.  Am I being marketed to, or do I really need this?

I pay cash for everything.  If I want something, I’ll wait until I have the cash saved up…and by then I find I don’t really need whatever I was after.  I’ve read that you should wait 30 days from the moment you decide that you want something.  Write it down, and if you still want it in 30 days, you can buy it.  Apparently a month’s time is enough to dissuade you from purchasing.

What’s absolutely crazy is that I found an extra $1000 dollars this month in my bank account. I put it directly onto my VISA bill.  Take that VISA!  In a few short years I will be free from consumer induced slavery.  It seems like a long time to be paying off debt, but I’ve spent the last 10 years digging the hole – it’s not gonna fill itself in over night!

Need or Want?

Ask yourself this question any time you reach for your wallet.  Is this something I need, or something I want? I almost always find the answer is something I want.  In just the past 2 weeks alone, I must have saved myself close to $200 dollars by asking that simple question!  In fact, here’s just a few days’ worth of expenses and near expenses:

Starbucks: want – saved $5

Thai food: want – saved $35

Movie rental: want (the bachelorette is on anyway) – saved – $5

Breakfast at the local hangout: want – saved $25

Papaya: need – spent $4

Chocolate: want…need…caved  – spent $5

Gas: need – spent $48

What I find the most interesting is that most of my purchases revolve around food and social outings!  I have a friend who has been tracking everything that she spends and earns since January.  What a fantastic idea! It’s amazing to see where your hard-earned cash is going, and seeing the trail makes it less likely that you’ll keep spending so nonchalantly.  I’ve virtually stopped going to Starbucks, and we’re eating most of our meals at home.

I feel all grown-up.