Eureka! I struck gold! I won the lottery! You can find me clicking my heels and shooting guns into the air like Yosemite Sam…
…Oh wait… there has been no dramatic bump in my income. There were no giant checks delivered to my doorstep with a balloon bouquet. I merely changed my spending habits. And only for a couple weeks (so far). It’s working!!
Month 1: $117,282
Not a big reduction in the debt. But for the first time ever, it’s headed in the right direction.
The Upward Spiral
They say change it begets change. And so do I. Adjusting my financial spending habits has impacted me in ways that I did not realize. Those who know me closely and have had any conversation at length in the past many months would tell you that I had drifted into some sort of existential crisis. It was rare that a day passed by that I had not deeply contemplated the meeting of life and the purpose of my existence. Though I’ve always been one to ponder the greater picture, logging many hours in my youth staring at the stars and contemplating my place in the grand scheme of things, this was a little different. This thought process was starting to interrupt my day. It was starting to feel a bit like a dark cloud over my head. Though I knew I could shake it off, I did not know what that was going to look like. I knew I had so much to be grateful for: a wonderful family who cares about me deeply, amazing friends in all parts of the world, a job that provides me heartwarming moments and regular fulfillment and keeps a roof over my head in what I consider to be a slice of paradise along the Pacific… but there was something that wasn’t sitting right with me.
Changing my focus in service of this financial goal has drastically impacted my frame of mind. I have derived much contentment from knowing that I am committed to myself and this goal, and successfully maintaining the discipline to do so. People may think my methods are a bit crazy at times, but it feels great.
The Method to the Madness – Kitchen Edition
According to the largest study ever conducted in my living room, preparing one’s own food in the kitchen is going to provide a far more nutritive and healthy balanced diet than eating out. So, not only do I literally get to tighten up my belt with my new spending habits (bonus!), but since I’ve known this about cooking at home and have yet to implement the regular habit, this has also revealed to me what intrinsically motivates me: money.
This comes as quite a surprise. I don’t think of myself as one who centers themselves around finances (obviously). Perhaps it’s more about what that money represents: freedom.
In an effort to make these blog entries life-altering to the six close friends and family who read it (and occasional unknown visitor from Canada… hello!), I have broken down my methods into a simple three-step process. They may not be “life-changing,” but they just might change your life.
There often comes a point when you look in the refrigerator and nothing really goes together, but many things are going to spoil if you don’t use them. It is at this point one must engage the kitchen-sinking method: putting on the ol’ creative thinking cap and start piecing together a food-puzzle. One of my favorite ways to do this is by making mini-frittatas. Armed with eggs and a cupcake pan, you can bake just about anything into them and they make perfect grab and go breakfast.
Sometimes creativity involves taking risks. Sometimes these risks do not turn out well. An important principle of the kitchen sinking method is to engage great intestinal fortitude. You won’t be sure how the flavor and textures are going to jive in some of these creations. And you won’t be sure while you’re eating it that you like it. Sometimes you’ll be pretty sure that you do not, in fact, like it at all. But you must remind yourself: it’s all good food, it will be over soon. You can add another meal to your Freedom Food Chart and pat yourself on the back for overcoming an obstacle in service of a greater purpose.
- Repetition Endurance
The next essential skill that you must engage is repetition endurance. This is especially true if you are a Costco aficionado, such as myself, who lives alone. You’re going to be eating things on repeat often. For instance, let’s say you have purchased a rather large jar of pesto sauce and open it on Monday. You’ve now got to revolve every meal possible around this pesto for as long as you can so as not to be wasteful. Last week involved pesto guacamole atop a grilled Portobello with roasted garlic. Next, pesto artichoke pasta, pesto avocado dip on veggie chips, and then more pesto artichoke pasta with added mushroom. Advanced level: addition of mushroom employed kitchen-sinking method as well. The jury is still out on the success of that dish.
- Do Yourselves a Solid
Lastly, you must nurture the relationship between your past self and your future self. Some people refer to this as planning. Past-self stops at the market on the way home from work and prepares future-self’s meals. Past-self is also responsible for remembering to take said items to work in order to have proper nutrition during the day. Future-self is generally very gracious towards past-self – appreciative to have meals prepared and (usually) delicious sustenance throughout the day. But sometimes past-self forgets. This can be frustrating. Future-self gets hungry. Future-self does not necessarily enjoy eating handfuls of almonds for breakfast and lunch in a single day. You can bet after a day like that, future-self will remind past-self to stop by the market or set a reminder to take the meals the following day. Although they don’t always get along, past- self gets a nod for a job well done when things go right. Some may call this self-love. Some might call this multiple personality disorder. I call it living alone. But I digress… the importance here is really in the planning. And not letting poor planning be an excuse to fall back into old habits.
The jury has returned from deliberation. The pesto mushroom pasta was not good. It shall live on forever in infamy on the FFC.