One of the many life skills that you want to learn at a fairly young age is the skill of being an ultra-thrifty, minimal kind of little wisp that’ traveling through time . . . in the sense of learning how little you actually need to live, not just in a survival mode, but in a contented mode . . . . That gives you the confidence to take a risk, because you say, ‘What’s the worst that can happen? Well, the worst that can happen is that I’d have a backpack and a sleeping bag, and I’d be eating oatmeal. And I’d be fine.’
-Kevin Kelly as told to Tim Ferriss in “Tools of Titans”
Sometimes I feel like the laziest or most anxious person in the world but sometimes the thought of going grocery shopping seems like a huge undertaking. (In my defense, I don’t have a car and we’re currently under a monsoon watch.) Ditto going out to eat as a single person. And I’m really not a delivery kind of girl (never got into the habit). So what’s a girl to do but make meals with what she already has in the apartment she never wants to leave?
Thankfully, years of cooking and being single (and being too tired to go to the grocery store) has led me to be quite crafty with my meals. I once went a month without going to the grocery store and actually came out in the negative for grocery spending (I returned some spices I was never going to use). So long as I have eggs, rice and soy sauce, I’m pretty happy. Thankfully it doesn’t have to come to that very often.
Below are meals I can prepare for myself currently with ingredients in my pantry and fridge/freezer with the ingredients listed next to them. I will admit though that I will very soon run out of eggs and coconut milk/milk and greek yogurt, and without those options, the pickings will be much scarcer!
Maybe you can relate. I can typically see through the marketing hoopla of most beauty products. But when I have a pimple, or when I feel badly about my appearance, money is no object. I would be tempted to buy anything.
I was recently contemplating buying a $500 beauty gadget that zaps electric pulses into your skin and allegedly kills bacteria, sculpts your face and encourages the buildup of beneficial collagen. Or so it says.
All because I had a pimple.
Typically I have very good skin. I may get little clogged pores regularly but I only get pimples a few times a year. So when I do get a pimple, it’s all I can think about. And I always scour the internet for quick fix solutions, peering into photo after photo of flawless-looking models trying to discern their secrets.
But typically before I fall into a vat of self-loathing, I try to tell myself this one phrase that brings me back to earth. It’s a phrase that keeps me from emptying my checking account every time I get a blemish.
I’ve been reading a number of personal finance blogs of late and it’s been a little bit dispiriting actually. I’ve seen many bloggers giving advice on how they worked for a few years and then retired to travel the world. Or how bloggers ruined their reputations or did unethical acts in the name of saving money. And in the end, reading most personal finance blogs, it seems like early retirement is the final end goal. The whole meaning of our life’s work is to travel the world and live like a dilettante.
I’m still drafting a personal finance manifesto but the first tenet is certainly – money is a tool, never the end goal. There should be so much more to your life than money. I honestly think there should be so much more to life than pleasure or happiness. There should be the constant striving to be a better person, to leave the world with more love, joy and happiness, to alleviate pain, to learn new things, to share new ideas, to take risks, to inspire others, and maybe, if we’re lucky, make something lasting.
I was reminded of this when reading the following passage in a book neither about finance nor character.
In my career so far, I’ve needed my male co-stars to take a pay cut so that I may have parity with them. And that’s something they do for me because they feel it’s what’s right and fair. That’s something that’s also not discussed, necessarily—that our getting equal pay is going to require people to selflessly say, ‘That’s what’s fair.’ If my male co-star, who has a higher quote than me but believes we are equal, takes a pay cut so that I can match him, that changes my quote in the future and changes my life.
Let’s stipulate first that this is, of course, only happening because everyone is getting paid such gobs of money that the exact amounts may not make a difference. If a man did this at a working-joe level, I think we would all think that man was stupid.
But even at these levels where money seems more decorative than purposeful, I have to wonder if this makes any sense as a path toward equality. Ok, first, what is equality? The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was meant to abolish wage disparity based on sex. I think this should be considered a phrase: “wage disparity based on sex.” It’s not that people can’t be paid differently – but that people shouldn’t be paid differently because of their different sexes.
So first off, I guess the question is, was there a wage inequality problem here and secondly, does this method solve it.
I’ve tried Gen. McChrystal’s one-meal-a-day diet for two weeks. For me, it hasn’t been that difficult a transition. I had already started an intermittent fasting regimen a month or so earlier. I have learned a lot about my eating habits from this little experiment – that, spoiler alert- I think I will continue.
1. I am not in tune with my hunger or my body.
So many diets come up with newfangled ways to keep you from being hungry. This diet also kept me from being hungry – by not giving me any food.