Well, here we are. One month into the new year. You all know about The Resolution that I made this year. My goal was to spend $1000 per month all year. On everything. I knew it would be tough and that my early forecasts already had me overshooting by a little bit, but since then I have decided that I have to accept one of two contradictory mindsets that I have previously proposed. That is, it is important to set yourself up for success. We have to be real about our budgeting, so that we don’t get discouraged and lose ‘motivation’ when we don’t reach our goals. But it is also important to do the things you say you’re going to do. Well, based on how January goes, I’m going to have to swallow my pride and re-adjust my goal slightly, in order to increase my chances of achieving it. That is, I have decided to increase my monthly budget to $1,250, or $15,000 for the year.
Although January looks to be one of my most expensive months of the year and that I still stand a chance of making up the difference, it looks like I am on track to spend closer to $13,000 for the year. Since readjusting my budget spreadsheet to include this increase, I have already noticed a positive change in my psyche around the project and seeing that I am on track to meet my goals, which I think is a powerful thing. And although I have had to backtrack on sticking to my guns, I think it is also good that I have adjust my goal early on in the process rather than later, after losing track completely due to a sense of ongoing failure to meet my budgeting goals. Ultimately, if I spend $15,000 CAD or less this year that is a huge success by any previous measure of mine, so I shall move forward with The Resolution without shame!
As a January recap, I ended up spending $1,617, which, yes, also puts me at a deficit to start the year for my new $1,250 monthly spending goals. This was due largely to the purchase of a new wetsuit, which I feel little shame about as surfing is how I spend most of my free time and provides a multitude of physical, emotional, spiritual and financial benefits to my life. The wetsuit has already been used enough to have been worth the purchase, yet I will continue to use it for years to come. Besides that purchase, I would have been just a little bit over my new $1,250 per month goal.
What I learned during January is that $1,000 is easy to spend. Yet it is also what many, nay, most people around the world are living off of. Or even less. With a family. What I am here to preach is frugality and wise investment, primarily framed by the goal of retiring early and freeing ourselves from a life of slavery to our paycheques. However, there is an added element to this. The more we leave on the table, the more there is for others, and the more freedom will be available to everyone. Not only is this good for the individual but also for society as a whole, as people can begin to act in response to what is good, rather than what pays. When you resist buying your new plastic toy, not only do save yourself from a lifetime of debt, but you save the earth from having to receive your plastic as waste a few years down the road when you have lost interest in it or broken it, having moved on to the next toy since you continue to fail to achieve self-gratification and validation, and continue to look to the world around you for these things.
“But, if everyone stops spending the economy will crash.” Maybe so, but probably not as much as people would think. A lot of people are not taking part at all in certain parts of the economy due to poverty. Spending won’t necessarily decrease just because it is distributed more evenly across the population rather than being done by a small amount of a privliged few percent. And, in any case, the current economy is based on the growth model of the cancer cell, and signs have been pointing for a long time that this cell’s host (the earth) is reaching it’s capacity to carry-on. No longer can ‘growth for the sake of growth’ be seen as the only metric by which a company should be measured. We must consider natural capital (i.e. the value of not logging a forest because of the ecosystem services it provides such as clean air and drinking water) and social capital (i.e. the real economic value of things like community trust, cooperation and cohesion, all of which can be highly impacted by large companies) along with economic capital (pieces of paper and numbers on a screen that only hold any value at all due to our deeply indoctrinated mutual trust in them).
But I digress.
$15,000 or less in 2018. That’s still a good first step, no? Please don’t judge me. Or, if you do, please do so in the comments section so I know you’re alive out there.