Friday, February 06, 2009

voluntary simplicity

"'Normal' is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to the job that you need so you can pay for the clothes, car, and the house that you leave empty all day in order to afford to live in it."

- Ellen Goodman

* * * *

Four months ago, I did a LIFESTYLE CHECK and resolved to live simply (but stylishly, of course). I have since made a few changes in my lifestyle, although only I seem to notice. So let me brag, mmmkay?

Let's see what recommendations from "Escape from Affluenza" I have managed to implement so far.

TIP 1:
When home-hunting, pick the smallest amount of space in which you are comfortable. This will limit the amount of stuff you can accumulate, and take far less of your time and resources to furnish, clean, maintain, insure and pay for. If your resources allow it, move to higher-density housing (duplex, condominium, or co-op). You will be living more lightly on the Earth in any of these choices and freeing yourself from the extra expense and time of paying for and maintaining a single-family residence.

MY VERSION: I live in a somewhat "green," minimal footprint condo that is more than big enough. At first I thought it was small (especially when MSP invades the space), but now, it seems perfect. It has everything I need: all the electronic conveniences, good lighting, big white walls, a big white bed. Even the mini ref turned out to be perfect. It fit right under the counter, saving floor space. And since I can see everything in there, food spoilage is avoided. I eat everything before I hit the grocery.

I took this picture while sitting in the garden one quiet Sunday afternoon.

TIP 2: Stop equating the amount of fun and pleasure you get with the amount of money you spend to get it. Sit down and make a list of 25 things you like to do that cost little or no money, and keep it where you can see it every day.

MY VERSION: I have three things so far: yoga, re-watching my old DVDs, and
running on the treadmill (the condo has a free gym). None of these cost me anything. I would add "seeing friends" on the list, but I have to spend on food or coffee when I do that, so that's not free. Maybe my list would get longer if only I thought about it more.

TIP 3: Stop pouring money into vending machines and espresso stands. Bring a thermos of coffee. Bring your own lunch occasionally. Two brown-bag lunches a week save the average worker more than $325 /PhP15,000 a year (assuming a $4.50 / PhP200 restaurant meal). Eat more cheaply, and you’ll probably have a healthier diet automatically.

MY VERSION: Okay, so I still eat out A LOT. Food and travel is my passion. BUT, I almost never buy coffee from Figaro anymore. I buy their beans and brew myself a cup (errmmm...a big mug) every morning. That's enough caffeine fix for the day. Oh, and when I do cook, I make enough for me and even MSP to last three days so we don't have to go on a lunch out. Dinner is easy- I usually just eat a soggy salad and a can of tuna, or whatever is left in the mini refrigerator.

TIP 4: Sell your second (and third, if applicable) vehicle, and only gas, repair, maintain, insure and otherwise pay for one.

TIP 5:
Congestion relief: make an effort to find at least one other person to car pool with, at least once a week.

TIP 6: You can cut the pollution your car emits and your annual use of gasoline by a quick 15% by simply keeping your car tuned and the tires properly inflated.

TIP 7:
New cars lose 20% of their value as they’re driven off the lot, 30% to 40% by the end of two years. Why not buy a well-maintained two-year-old car and take advantage of this situation?

MY VERSION: I did all four tips, combined. First, I sold the Mercedes - the car that ended up owning me. I now share a car with MSP. It's a Jap (and those who know me know I am allergic to Jap cars) but it's really economical. We keep it tuned, so it stays fuel-efficient. And of course, it is a used, fully-paid-for car. No senseless monthly amortizations on a depreciating thing.

TIP 8: Telecommute from your home one day a week. You’ll save 20% a year on transportation and clothing maintenance, and will feel less rushed.

MY VERSION: In the company MSP and I own, telecommuting is the norm. All our employees can work from home whenever they want. Productivity is much higher, and the office saves on electricity. It's a great deal.

* * * *

These are the things I managed to pull off thus far. I'm hoping to "shed even more clutter" this 2009.

This voluntary simplicity has paid dividends:

Some peace of mind. Now, I worry less over possessions getting stolen or damaged. Before, I constantly thought about my Mercedes getting scratched, or my house burning down, etc. Now that my life is simpler, I own things - they don't own me. The stuff I have are all replaceable; they are just things now. I still worry to death about money and business (it's my nature), but I don't sweat the little things anymore. Who cares if the car is left in the rain? This is a big leap for an anal-retentive basketcase like me.

More time to read. I finally finished the books I've been meaning to read for two years.

More opportunity to exercise and do satisfying physical work. I still can't swim, but man, can I run! The side triangle is still a pain to execute, but at least I do yoga.

Less money spent on almost everything. Okay, so this is not always true, but it is somewhat true. I save at least PhP2,000 a month because I avoid buying signature latte. The eating out budget has been cut back to just P10,000 a month (except when there are birthdays). I don't pay for LPG (thanks to the induction stove), electricity bills went down (I've set the air conditioner to economy mode), and I read only in the mornings when the sun spills into my window. It's too early to calculate how much I have saved from simplifying, as I am in the process of spending money to liquidate some assets right now. But I'm pretty confident that I can save more this year. Let's see come December.

More travel. I've been to more places (locally and internationally in the last 6 months than I have ever been in my life. Now that I can just pack my bags and leave the condo + readily access some funds (savings from all the simplification), there's simply no excuse NOT to travel. Even road trips are much easier, as I don't worry about the car getting scratched or breaking down. It's a Nissan - how expensive can repairs be?

More space. The reason the tiny condo looks bigger than it really is: DECLUTTERING. I don't buy a lot of stuff, so there's a lightness to the place. When I do buy, I give old stuff away.

So there.

I'm starting to become a hippie in a Prada.

I hope I can keep it up.


Blogger {illyria} said...

i thought you didn't have a list. i think this qualifies as one, at least in your own hippie-in-a-Prada way.

can't wait to see you later.

8:42 AM  
Blogger Kenia said...

Mussolini are a Brazilian now!

9:41 AM  
Blogger acey said...

very interesting. i have been looking for ways to save more and live a less stressful life and i think this list would help a lot. thanks for sharing! (i love the zen-ness of your condo, btw.)

4:09 PM  
Blogger mussolini said...

illy> it was so nice seeing you / your cold cuts and cheese platter.

kenia> and that's a great thing to be :)

acey> don't save. you're too young to be saving. wait until you're 25.

10:37 PM  
Blogger {illyria} said...

i'm gonna buy a platter (good for two) one weekend and lounge around the house with a book and a glass of wine.

don't forget to borrow my DVD from ennui. it's not very deep but it's still quite good. nice for a laidback sunday.

9:02 AM  
Blogger ennui said...

who do you give your old stuff to? how about your old dvds?

11:32 PM  
Blogger mussolini said...

ennui> the DVDs i want to keep, i still keep. the "one-time watch" ones go to whoever wants them at that moment. how are you enjoying "living lohan"? hahahahaha

5:55 AM  

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