My cupboards were bare – it made them easier to clean! – but I needed to spend money and buy food. I felt a little sad to have to go to the shops: in one way it was quite a relief not spending money and so not going shopping – it has never been very appealing to me. I kept my spending well within my budget and bought ingredients I knew I could make into all kinds of interesting meals. Since last Friday, when I came home from work and just decided on this plan of spending no money, I have been quite creative about what to cook, and I have consulted my cookery books more than ever before. And actually, my cooking has been really scrumptious! [Currently, I love the recipes in Deliciously Ella’s books – great natural flavours – with a few tweaks here and there]. I also had a quite different attitude to the process of cooking and also then, eating the meals. I enjoyed the time it took to combine ingredients, some of which have looked so plain in the cupboards, but when mixed with those certain other flavours and textures produce yummy meals. There was also such a sense of achievement at cooking on a shoe-string.
At this point, however, I must say that at other times in my life when money was extremely limited and when it was difficult to make ends meet, there was not this sense of achievement and the food was not always so appealing. My current experiment is in no way meritorious as I have the means to eat well, and that is a whole different starting point. Nevertheless, I wanted to break the habit of spending, and in a small way I did. I would like to return to this periodically – especially the aspect of living out of your cupboards, rather than always stocking up!
It has helped me appreciate things more too. I did go to a coffee shop once this week, and have a coffee – I had been given a gift card, so the cost of it came out of that! And that coffee did taste mighty good! And it was important to me to keep an eye on my attitude. I didn’t want to get fixated with money, spending no money, or eating or cooking economically. I read a really interesting book a while ago, Scarcity: Why having too little means so much, by S Mullainathan and E Sharif, which speaks about when you don’t have very much, all too often you can get ‘tunnel vision’, so to speak, and fixate on your lack (be it money, time or resources), and that can lead you into making all kinds of unhealthy short-termist decisions. I wanted to be free to get on with other things – and I had lovely times in the garden and in nature, seeing Nature’s bounty and Her beauty.
And I turned again to a book that was recommended to me four years ago about being in charge of your money more, The Four Laws of Debt Free Prosperity, by Blaine Harris and Charles Coonradt. It is a simple book, and simple to implement its ideas – and that is the picture at the top, and my little finance books where I have tried to Track my spending, Trim my spending and have Targets in order to spend differently: clever spending, rather than no spending. And when I haven’t managed it, a few months later I always return to it and start again. And that’s great.
Over the years, I’ve also learned that there is a time to be extravagant and generous, as well as time to save and spend wisely. Because Life is Life: a precious gift to each of us, and so very much more important than money. I know that’s not the way the world is run at the moment. I won’t rage against the machine. I just won’t play their game.
[Thank you so much to Simonjkyte who mentioned the documentary on the Sussex vicar living without money – on my list of things to watch. And to FreedomHow for his enthusiasm about living with less.] Let’s keep inspiring one another!