A Controversial Way To Save Money on Groceries

Back in the heyday of my student loan paying off blitz, I would sometimes, as people do, forget my lunch at home. Or forget to make one. Now, this situation happens often and $10 one time is not a big deal when you’re paying off tens of thousands, right? Right. Logical. But the hunger and the deprivation was making me illogical. I skipped lunch anyway. I was cutting back on everything, I wouldn’t let mistakes derail me.
Since that time, I had reversed course into thinking, yeah a $10 lunch here or there is going to delay your loan payoff by a literal minute, if that. Health is more important.
Now I still believe health is more important than money but I may be revisiting the idea that skipping meals is a bad thing.
What I had found when skipping lunch was that it was unbearable for about an hour but after the pangs stopped, I was basically cured. I felt no ill effects. I didn’t eat a giant dinner to compensate. I wasn’t consistently hungry for hours. I wasn’t irritable. But I still felt guilty for skipping a meal and treating my health so flippantly.
After reading about it in a few publications, I decided to take the plunge.  I’m starting a diet whereby I only eat one meal a day, typically dinner. 
I’m sure this sounds disordered. But there have been some studies that show that this intermittent fasting might actually lead people to live longer. And General Stanley McChrystal eats only one meal a day.
There doesn’t seem to make any rhyme or reason why we eat three meals in a day. Looking at our primitive ancestors, they probably ate whenever they could. They didn’t have set meals. If given an abundance of food, it would still make sense to eat only when hungry, rather than by habit.
I’m not going to starve, darlings.
No one dies from starvation from having one meal a day. Or at least, one big meal a day. And I can foresee a lot of benefits.
 
Benefit #1: It relieves stress
After we stopped that whole hunting and foraging for food thing, you would think procuring and planning meals would be a breeze now. When I think about planning 21 meals for myself, it seems like a lot to wrap my head around. Each meal has to be balanced in terms of nutrition and I have to figure out where I’m going to eat it and when I’m going to cook it. Then I actually have to shop for and cook it. Also by forgoing two meals a day, I can focus all my energies on preparing one great meal.
 
Benefit #2: Reduced environmental impact
I’ve heard a number of people say that the world would reduce reliance on greenhouse gases or whatever if people would eat one meatless meal a week. Well by cutting out 2 meals a day, you’re cutting out potentially 10 meaty meals.
Benefit #3: Spartanism can be pleasurable
I’m a bit of a masochist. I’ve run 2 marathons. I never turn on my air conditioning. I bike in a tank top and shorts in 50 degree weather. I had listened to this podcast entitled “Your Climate Controlled Life is Killing You” and it really spoke to me. I really was getting tired of the comfort. There’s that line in that Goo Goo Dolls Song “You bleed just to know you’re alive” and while that sounds perfectly emo and high school, it does make me feel more alive to suffer a bit.
Benefit #4: It’ll save money
And we come to the headline of the post – of course this will save money. While it seems like you would eat all your calories just in one meal, your stomach shrinks from lack of eating and you eat just a normal sized meal in the end. Further you’ll save money on snacks and foods for breakfast and lunch. I’m not sure you’ll cut exactly 2/3 of your food budget, particularly since breakfast tends to be a pretty cheap meal. However, even if you ate out reasonably for dinner every day – say $10 a meal, you would only spend $70 on food for the week. That’s quite a low number for eating out, and you could get much lower if you cooked.
In the end, it’s just an experiment I’m doing to see what works. If I’m hangry and irritable and my hair starts falling out, you best be believing that I’ll stop.
What about you? Have you ever tried intermittent fasting or some other crazy diet?

Note to Grads: Your Choices Now Determine Who You Will Be

Though my family grew up in New Jersey, my sister was a bandwagon Chicago Bulls fan. Can’t really blame her. Who didn’t like Mike? He was so much better than everyone else (including my beloved Knicks). What I didn’t learn until much later was that, once upon a time, he wasn’t the most amazing basketball player of all time.

As a sophomore in high school, he didn’t make the varsity team. Big whup, right? Well, it was a huge deal to him. Jordan would get into school well before the teachers to shoot baskets at his gym every day of the year. He made the team his junior year and became a star player, which led to college recruitment and the NBA.

Can you imagine if you had rebounded from a failure so seriously as a sophomore in high school that you worked every day for hours to get better? Where would you be now?

The stories about Michael Jordan’s intensity during practices are legendary. I heard that he once slapped Steve Kerr because he wasn’t dribbling properly. In practice.

And while watching Michael Jordan play made it seem like it was all effortless God-given talent, it was really a ferocious practice schedule and decades of daily concerted effort away from fans and photogs that made him great. He pushed himself everyday. He got better everyday. Soon, the other players couldn’t match him.

 

Your 20s matter

I’ve heard people say that your 20s don’t matter. That’s insane. How can a decade, or approximately 1/7 of your entire lifespan, not matter at all, particularly one so early in your life? I mean, when will your life start to matter if not now?

Yes, you have room for error because you have fewer responsibilities, but your 20s are the decade where you create the foundation for the rest of your adult life. Do you start it off tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt or with a savings account? Do you continue to build your education and skills, travel the world, take care of your health, start lasting and significant friendships and mentorships? It’s much harder to start fresh when you hit 30 if you’ve wasted your 20s.

Your 20s are 3,650 24-hour chances to make progress towards your goals.

No Zero Days

When I think all is hopeless and I’ll never become anything, I look at this – the best thing that’s ever happened on Reddit – Ryans01’s comment on non-zero days:

Rule numero uno – There are no more zero days. What’s a zero day? A zero day is when you don’t do a single fucking thing towards whatever dream or goal or want or whatever that you got going on. No more zeros. I’m not saying you gotta bust an essay out everyday, that’s not the point. The point I’m trying to make is that you have to make yourself, promise yourself, that the new SYSTEM you live in is a NON-ZERO system. Didnt’ do anything all fucking day and it’s 11:58 PM? Write one sentence. One pushup. Read one page of that chapter. One. Because one is non zero. You feel me? When you’re in the super vortex of being bummed your pattern of behaviour is keeping the vortex goin, that’s what you’re used to. Turning into productivity ultimate master of the universe doesn’t happen from the vortex. It happens from a massive string of CONSISTENT NON ZEROS. That’s rule number one. Do not forget.

It’s only in my 30s that I’ve discovered how important these little decisions we make everyday are. It’s this consistent small effort that make habits that make progress. The progress is what kinds of people we become.

Education

For example, it can often seem insurmountable to learn a language or to learn enough a topic to get familiar with it. It seems like the only way to make headway is to fully immerse yourself and who has time for that? Actually though, if you learn a little bit everyday, you start to know a lot.

Consider the alternative. This lady mentioned she didn’t know the names of Obama’s daughters. Now, I’m from D.C. but I understand that other people might not care enough to learn their names. It’s trivia at best. But this lady then goes into this tirade about why should she waste her time learning their names when she’s so busy with other things. What I found most interesting was how often this particularly tirade came up with her. Why should I learn about what’s going on in the news? How to cook? How to navigate around a city? The list was endless. As a consequence, she was 29 years old and the depths of her lack of knowledge were boundless. I imagine I would have been the same way if I had put up a big wall against learning after the age of …I don’t know…8 years old? Now you get into a conversation about nearly anything with this lady and she won’t be able to converse knowledgeably about the topic. This is the accumulation of a million little choices not to learn.

Finance

A similar thing goes for finances. I read this exercise in the book Financially Fearless by 40 by Jason Anthony. He asks you to add up your salaries for 10 years and then try to figure out where it went. Now I was 23 at the time and I was frugal AF so I knew pretty much where all my salary went. But as a new grad, if you start with say, $40,000 income post-tax and assume some raises over that time, you’ll have made about $600,000 in a 10 year time frame. That seems like a lot of money! Where is that money going to go? Well if you eat out for every meal everyday for 10 years at a cost of approximately $10/meal, that’s $100,000.

Can you imagine being 32 years old, living paycheck to paycheck and just realizing you’ve mindlessly spent 1/6 of your earnings, SIX FIGURES OF EARNINGS, just eating fast food?

I mean yes, $10 once isn’t that big a deal but over time, it really adds up. While you were waiting in line at Cosi, your colleague is eating her homemade lunch.  She started grocery shopping and cooking more, maybe spending only $40,000 on food (including some going out) over 10 years. That person now has $60,000 more than you, enough for a down payment on a house, as well as 10 years developing as a cook and food shopper. She’s probably also healthier because she controls the food that goes into her meal. This just from a simple decision not to eat out.

Extrapolate for a few more decades and the gap between you two becomes wider as she becomes a more efficient cook and the cost of going out increases. In 30 more years, she’s a great cook and can retire early and you’re still in line at Cosi!

Myself

I’m almost 12 years out of college and I have started seeing how I am the sum of my choices. My friend told me that when you turn 30 your body just turns to crap. I was 29 at the time so this was not welcome news. She was very active and the years of stress on her body were starting to add up. That’s what happens with small decisions – they always add up.

Now let me backtrack and say it’s certainly not too late to start. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past – it matters what you’re doing today, doing now. You are currently charting the cost of your future day by day, hour by hour, second by second. You’re either getting stronger or weaker. You’re creating a platform to jump off of or you’re staying on the ground.

I am what I think. I am what I eat. I am the TV shows I watch. I am the books I read. I am the people I spend time with. I am the 10 mile bike ride I do everyday. I am the skills I’ve learned. I am the kindness that I exhibit. I am the work that I do.

I am my choices.

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Image via Giphy

My New Year’s Resolution: Stop Doing Stuff I Hate

I think I’m actually quite good at ignoring other people’s opinions – about certain things. I’ve always had my own sense of style, grating personality, and my weird hipster tendencies. But I also have a high threshold for pain and misery. I mean I’ve worked as an attorney in a law firm for almost 5 years, and I lived with appendicitis for a few years.

stop

So recently I was invited to a baby shower. And I know this makes me a terrible person, but I hate baby showers. Or at least I hate it when only women are invited to these things – as if raising children is just a woman’s job. And then you play these stupid gross games like eating baby food. And you don’t even know each other that well, unlike at bridal showers, where you might be all really good friends. And then you just talk about baby stuff and there’s often no booze!

So I went shopping for something off the registry, and I was figuring out my train ride back from a little vacation I was having so that I could make it back for the baby shower. And then it occurred to me, I don’t have to go. I could give the gift ahead of time and spend the time I would have spent at the baby shower, doing anything I wanted to do.

In 2016, I was hampered by saying yes to things I knew I would hate. I spent way too much time with people I hated, including on a 5-day vacation, where I wished every minute that I was back at work. And that vacation was something that cast a shadow and caused a strain on my whole relationship with my fiance. It would have been much easier for both of us, if I had just acknowledged that I didn’t want to go to these events.I could have done things I wanted to do. I wouldn’t have built up so much resentment. The resentment wouldn’t have caused so much anger. The anger wouldn’t have seeped into every interaction we had.

So yeah, there’s nothing wrong with saying no to stuff that you hate.  I heard this great quote: “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot” – Michael Altshuler. Why pilot yourself into situations you hate?