As time has gone on, I’m realizing that it’s not as hard to resist buying things as I expected (it’s like being a vegetarian- you tell yourself you “just can’t” and after a while it stops feeling like an option). There have been a few nights that I haven’t gone to a dinner or happy hour even if I could have joined for the company, but there are usually other reasons as well- tiredness, having to wake early for work, etc. The limited budget doesn’t help inspire me to go, but it hasn’t limited me to the extent I expected it to.
But it’s still not easy. Since I can’t buy food out, I have to pre-plan all my meals (sometimes from breakfast to dinner because I’m out of the house all day). I have to search harder for events that are free and fit my schedule. I am cooking and looking up recipes like never before since I can’t rely on ready-to-go foods (I even have to plan out when to soak beans for the next day because I’m not using canned goods). It all takes so much forethought that my brain hurts.
|I made quinoa lettuce wraps- healthy and cheap!|
But this is the life I want! I want to be able to say that I made my own hummus, refried beans and oatmeal bars (I did!). I want to explore DC’s free and cheap entertainment (there is so much of it, it would be foolish not to). I want to bike to work, alter the clothing I already have and creatively find ways to live more simply. So why is it still so hard?
The only explanation I can come up with is that I want everything. I want to use the clothing I have, but I also want to be hip. I want free entertainment, but I want it to dazzle me. I want to cook for myself but I also want to taste delicacies prepared by someone who knows what they’re doing. I want free coffee (at work), but I also want the cozy nook offered only to customers. All in all, I want magic, but I want it for free.
In an ideal world, this is possible- to live a completely full life on a miniscule budget. And I still think it is, but it seems to take some of the spontaneity out of life. If I’m invited to a concert tonight, I can’t go. I can search around for a free concert coming up, but it’s not going to be tonight or with the same person or in the same venue. And it might not happen at all. Being new to this city, it’s important for me to be spontaneous and be able to branch out whenever an opportunity arises.
This challenge makes that difficult, but not impossible. My basic struggle with want (could probably be called greed as well) leaves me feeling like I have to decide- who do I really want to be? I can’t be both the person who enjoys lavish outings as well as the person who values freedom from consumerism, can I?
“The market forces pushing convenience, individualism, and comfort are still stronger than the attraction of community, fellowship, and connection with the natural world.” – Bill McKibben
Total spent so far: $375.57
(Spent $5.13 at Trader Joe’s on groceries and added another $50 to my metro card)