September has come, the month of my birthday. Party time. As I’m writing this introduction, it is Saturday 31th of August, 2:10AM.
I just came back from a night in a bar (cola, needless to say) and had this talk with a friend who’s financially very secure.
I am laying in bed right now, thinking about his situation and a flash of inspiration flashed through my mind.
Trying to follow my ‘inner voice’ (New Age mumbo jumbo crap for intuition) more, I opened up my laptop, and started writing.
My friends, here is the Golden Idea:
I am going on a No Spend September.
It’s probably been done before, but the idea is new to me.
The rules are simple. Cut back hard financially on thing you can do without, still pay your basic bills, and try to only spend on things that you need, not want.
My rent for September is paid for, I have to pay my student loans, I have to pay for groceries, I have to pay for the gym (because getting fit is a substantial goal now) and my medical costs.
I can probably cut back on the cost of my phone plan, tobacco, frivolous eating out (had McDonald’s this morning and was not satisfied) – I can even cut back a bit on groceries because I still have some meal shakes laying around. I can cut back on a lot. Mate, I spent 1600 euros last month and bought only few memorable things.
I will keep 50EU cash in my wallet for emergencies, but I’d still have that 50EU sitting in my wallet at the end of the month, ideally. Maybe it’s a good idea to leave my debit card at home when I go out, but I’ll have to experiment with that.
This is a radical excercise in order to change my beliefs about money. Because belief, my friends, is everything. You need faith in order to win. Faith to persevere. I talked this over with my friend, and he told me I have a great deal of discipline in me, which shows through not drinking. Time to step up my game and push myself to the next limit.
I will have to find solutions for my birthday, which I’ll have to host some way. I won’t be able to take public transportation in the weekends. I won’t be able to buy books that I just think I need. Study books exepted, but I’ve got those already for next study quarter. More worryingly, I will have to find ways to get coffee for free. Shit, dude. What have I gotten myself into now?
The blog post will be made live and updated daily, so that people who know me and read my shiznit (wassup, my dogs) can hold me accountable. If you’re a friend reading this and see me spending money this month, berate me. At the end of the month I’ll write a conclusion.
Also, if you’re a mate (and even if you’re not a mate) post helpful comments on how I can get through this month without breaking the streak. Post motivational stuff, that’s what I like to see. People hyping other people up to achieve something, sharing stories (can be done anonymously). Lets build a bit of a community around here. Don’t worry, posting things on the internet is not awkward. It’s freeing, as long as you have thought a bit about what you wrote.
Here is a day-by-day documentation. I will write from my phone when I feel the urge to write, when something has happened or a thought has popped into my mind that I think is valuable.
Aug. 31 – I have pinned 50EU, am at work and had a meal at home. Took a meal shake with me. Usually I buy some food at work so I’ll have to control my urges a bit. At least coffee is free here. Had some coffee, didn’t buy any anything. Maybe the entrance for dancing tonight will be free, if not I’ll skip it. Entrance was free, but the venue was almost empty, so a friend and me went to another bar, he treated me to some cola and bitterballs (Dutch people will know). It felt like cheating though, consuming on someone else’s tab. Don’t want to do it again.
Sept. 1 – Did some groceries, totalling 16.20EU, spent cash. Went longboarding around my neighborhood because the gym was closed today, it’s Sunday. Had some free coffee at the gas station, had a chat with some people, it was nice. Perfect Sunday, a day to rest and chill out. School starts next Thursday, so I’ll have to get my things in order.
Sept. 2 – Spent all day in bed reading books, that was pretty cheap. Had a hamburger, which cut me in my emergency fund. Really didn’t feel like eating at home.
Sept. 3 – This not spending money thing is harder than I thought. Got groceries, so that’s allowed, but also had a Red Bull to pep me up a bit, which cut me in my cash funds. I did check my student loan debt balance, and the automatic transfer is working, so that’s positive. Just needed a day to clear. Every Monday, I’ll be paying off my debts with 100EU.
Sept. 4 – Pheeeew. This is hopeless. Didn’t spend anything all day, then I decided to get a cola and some ice cream. I think I have to take better measures to keep myself in check, such as putting my debit card in a drawer or something. The snacks got me energized though, or maybe it was the coffee. However, I thought about getting cigarettes and didn’t do it, so that’s a small win!
Sept. 5 – Continuing the hopeless streak by getting coffee and cigarettes for my first day in my second year at Uni. I find that I am a rather celebrating person, celebrating small things whenever I can and thereby not sticking to my principles. I wouldn’t have written about it, but got caught in the act by a friend whom I think will be reading this, so might as well ‘jot it down’. Feeling pretty optimistic even though I didn’t sleep (played a game of League of Legends and listened to The Black Philip Show, drew a cube in Photoshop in CMYK). I am now sitting in one of the computer rooms at Uni, nobody’s here yet, so I can work on my mindset for a bit and write down my goals as if they were penal rules. Drill them inside my head, make them part of me.
I also have to work this afternoon, so at least there’s cash coming in. I try to do a better job, be more attentive to customers and I think it’s working out well. Someone once said to me ‘If you’re going to be a garbage man, be the best garbage man you can be’ and to me that rings true, that you should try to do your best job no matter what level you’re at, because it makes other people happy and therefore you happy and before you know it you’re all happy and the world is a bit better off. Even though I know I can take on a more demanding job in the future, I’ve got to do what it takes to get there and be worthy enough to earn more guap.
If my classmates are nice (I’m meeting them for the first time today) I might take them out for a cup of coffee. I also have to do something about my study association membership, have to re-enroll or something, which costs a hefty 30EU. But in exchange comes socializing, free coffee and a discount on books, so I think I’ll get my buck’s worth. In the framework of ‘No Spend September’, I see this as a subscription that’s necessary. Well, off I go.
So, adjusted my study schedule so that there won’t be overlap between courses and work, now having some coffee with people I’m probably not going to see as much as I’d like (since I’m changing groups), but it’s nice. We’re talking about studies, I’m having a double espresso which cuts into my coffee fund (since it’s for socializing) and I can share the wisdom that I’ve undoubtedly gained over the past year onto others. Cool man.
Welp, disaster has stricken me. I ended the positive day with having to cover up 50EU for my cash register which didn’t total up to the amount it should have totalled up to, because somewhere during the day I made a big mistake. I don’t know if I’ve made someone’s day by giving them 50EU too much or just dropped the 50EU bill, but the register was missing 50EU so I paid that out of my own pocket. Meaning I only earned 30EU today instead of the usual 80. What a bummer. Luckily my emergency fund was able to cover it for me.
But life goes with ups and downs, and you learn from your mistake and move on and try to do better next time. What a big fat cliché. At least I’m not letting that spoil my day.
I also paid off some debts and bills. I took a look at my budget and was shook; it looks like Spendless September really has to be a thing now if I want to have food at my birthday party.
Sept. 6 – Did groceries (9.79EU) and got chicken nuggets and coffee (8.45EU). Also got my gym membership billed, which was 69EU for the setup and 59.90 per month. Pretty hefty, but budgeted for it, so no need to stress. I’ve been thinking, after I’m done with this gym (1.5 year contract) and I’m not a novice anymore I can invest in some home equipment, which is cheaper in the long run.
First week conclusion: Not so great with the discipline, Markie boy.
Sept. 7 – Going to the gym this morning. Going to get groceries for <5EU, and work in the afternoon.
After work I decided I would go to a party, so I paid 16EU for a ticket, which is against my principles, but decided to heck with it, I budgeted for it and while I was there only drank water with ice, which is free. Could’ve been a lot worse. Party was great, met some people, did some moves, someone called me a high school legend which is both good and bad for my ego, don’t want it to be too inflated. Confidence, sure, but don’t want to be too big for my boots. Me and a guy from my highschool had a conversation about why I quit alcohol – he was the guy who called me a legend – and he couldn’t quite comprehend it, although he had respect for it. He told me he’s surrounded by people who take drugs at techno parties, and because he doesn’t take drugs and only drinks, he feels like he’s a pretty cool, responsible guy. He learned that there was a higher level you can achieve by not even drinking and still going to techno parties and having a good time. Didn’t want to preach too much but couldn’t help myself being enthusiastic about the positive effects of quitting alcohol and drugs.
Had to walk home since my bike has a flat tire, which has its upsides: it’s cardio, it’s cheaper than a taxi and looking up and seeing the stars while listening to Craig David is pretty cool.
Sept. 8 – Painted a friend’s girlfriend’s bicycle in various shades of green. Accidentally spilled some paint on the pavement, I don’t really care about it (I rarely care about paint stains, unless they’re on my clothes) but I know my mom will when she finds out. Collateral damage, but oops. Had some coffee with the friend and the girlfriend, good start of the day.
Also did groceries for 15.80EU. Financially on track today. Spent some time hanging around at the gas station having tea and a bit of conversation with my co-worker, who always has great stories. Pretty much chilled out to the maximum, since it’s Sunday. Going to study and Photoshop for a bit, maybe set up my painting space. I have a large canvas I want to prime and then make something cool with the acrylic paint that I have left sitting in a drawer, but the working space is not ready yet. It’s going to be psychedelic for sure.
Sept. 9 – Got groceries (5EU), cigarettes (7EU), coffee (10EU) and books (62EU). I have to rebudget now, might not make all my (voluntary) debt payments until I get to my salary.
Sept. 10 – Didn’t buy anything, so that’s cool. Small steps. Went to the gym in the evening, had a tea at work. Drank a meal shake (600 kcal) and had some meat. Thinking about either studying this evening or just going to bed early and study tomorrow morning. Tomorrow morning I want to hit the gym again, have to work in the afternoon.
Sept. 11 – Got expensive drinks for work and cigarettes. The whole concept is basically overboard, I see that I basically disregard my own experiment, which poses interesting questions of discipline and willpower, at least.
Sept. 12 – Had dinner at a snackbar. Didn’t spend anything except for that, but the bottom line is that I’m continuing to do what I do best: spending money.
Sept. 13 – Another day of cigarettes and iced coffee. I’ve checked my outflows and since January, I’ve only spent 130EU on coffee, which is lower than I expected – but this is obviously a coping mechanism. Had to work today, so at least I’m compensating. A lot of cope. My favourite customer is going to Italy for 3 weeks, I usually have a tea/coffee and a cigarette with him before I close up shop and talk about language, art or other interesting topics. Going to miss him, but hope he has fun over there.
In the morning I went to pick up my medicine, by the way. I’m switching case managers so that’s kind of a bummer – I got adjusted to this one. Now I have to construct a bond with someone else, which I might as well see as a challenge.
Sept. 14 – The big thing today was work, but woke up too late so couldn’t go get cheap groceries. Luckily my mom brought me salad, but also got a chicken sandwich and some Red Bull.
Also went to a party, bought 2 beers (for others) and a cola (for myself). Danced vigorously. Got a lift home from a friend, we talked about discrepancy between thought and emotion, how to better connect with your emotions and act upon them. He stated that his thoughts stood in the way of honest connection with his emotions, that all his thought trouble his heart. Pretty challenging topic, because it invited me to reflect on whether I act in line with my emotions. I said that I think that I do, I mostly think what I feel, my feelings have often to be put into thoughts. For example: if I think a lot about somebody, I might be inclined to think that I feel something for that person, and while my friend accepted what I said, I thought to myself that thinking =! feeling. I, too often for my tastes, do not act if I feel not certain, but you should act nonentheless – especially when you’re not certain. We agreed that there is value in preparing your acts a bit though. Written down it’s pretty abstract, but when talked about in the moment, under a starry sky, it’s pretty real.
Sept. 15 – Paid a healthcare bill and went to see the film Claire’s Camera with my brother. It’s a Korean, dialogue-based movie set in Cannes. I like that my brother agreed to go with me (we could also have gone to see Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, but he’s already seen that one) because it provided a basis for some interesting discussion and viewpoints on what film is and should be. The pace of the movie we went to see was pretty slow, and the scenes were not placed in chronological order. I like that my small bro wants to be challenged intellectually now. He’s reading more and even came up with fresh perspectives on why he had to get adjusted to the style of this kind of arthouse-film.
In my view, challenging yourself intellectually is essential to living a fulfilling life. Why hang around in front of the TV, watching the same old detectives, when you can learn to read great books and improve your life through the accumulation of new ideas?
Sept. 16 – Had an expensive and not very nutritious breakfast on the go – it pretty much sucked as far as dietary and financial discipline go, but at least I didn’t sit in class wanting something to eat. Had some coffee and, yes, cigarettes. Luckily I could meet my mom and my godmother for lunch and snatch a free lunch. Now I’m sitting in a cafe, enjoying a chai tea latte.
Had a fruitful discussion in class about literary genres, how you define a genre, the hierarchy between high art and low art, why there should be a hierarchy in establishing the quality of works of art, Kant’s Aesthetics, aesthetics in general and the fact that aesthetics qualities are universal and objective (think about the golden ratio), the difference between finding something pleasurable and finding something aesthetically pleasing. I had the idea that I connected with the reading material pretty well, I was able to explain Kant sensibly to fellow students and formulate arguments on the benefits of a hierarchy and judging people for what they read.
Don’t judge lest they be judged, sure, but it’s okay to be judged well if you’re challenging yourself intellectually (there is that phrase again). If you stick to reading on the same level, how are you going to progress as a human? If you feel bad about being judged for what you read, either A) read something better or B) laugh it off and reread Harry Potter for the umpteenth time disregardless.