Make free your default again

12 Jan

In college, I did not search for entertainment that was “inexpensive,” because every ten dollars was more than an hour’s worth of work, and at that rate, just about nothing is cheap. Oh, sure, I would spend money sometimes, but the default price I was willing to pay for entertainment was $0.00, and it had to be pretty dang impressive to warrant throwing out my hard-earned cash (yes, I worked about 25 hours/week in school).

After graduating and now earning FOUR FIGURES A MONTH, things crept up. A regular latte, for sure. Catching up with friends happens at bars and restaurants instead of at home. Buying books I want to read. Picking up cute apartment things at Target. Nothing absurd, just the “basics” that I figured I had earned by working full-time at a Real Person Job.

Looking at my bank account, I had that sinking realization we all do: that all those tiny things add up. So I went zero for a weekend.

After parking my car on Friday night, I didn’t drive it again until I headed to work today. Gas: $0.
I went shopping at the library – where you can take home everything you want and pay nothing for it. Five books: $0.
When I went out for a walk, I brought tea in my thermos instead of buying fancy coffee. Warm drink: $0.
My friend and I streamed the basketball game at her apartment. Socializing: $0.
I did yoga videos on YouTube. Exercise: $0.
My other friend came over for coffee and catching up on Sunday morning. More socializing: $0.
I cooked my meals at home, using what I already had instead of buying what I was craving. Food: $0.
I worked on the knitting projects that have been sitting around half-done for ages. Crafting: $0.

Oh, I forgot one thing. Laundry: $4. I would count that as a utility, though.

For a quick comparison, a weekend equivalently enjoyable could have easily cost me $82 (gas: assuming $5 for limited driving places instead of walking, one new book: $15, latte: $4, watching the game at a bar instead: $10, going to a yoga class: $10? (I don’t do this, so guessing on the price), coffee and a pastry out: $8, buying more food I don’t need: $15, buying more yarn for fun project ideas: $15). $82 over the course of a weekend isn’t ridiculous, but $0 feels a heck of a lot better.

My point is not that you never need to buy things (obviously, I had already paid for the coffee/tea/food/internet/etc. that’s in my house, and was continuing to accumulate bills for things like rent, heat, my phone and all that jazz). We can’t cut money entirely out of our lives. I’m not even saying to never go out, because I love a good happy hour, or even a fancy dinner out, as much as the next girl.

But try going free for a few days. Enjoy how it feels to go out into the world and leave your wallet at home. Enjoy that your bank account balance on Monday is exactly the same as it was on Friday. Enjoy spending more time focusing on your friends and the world around you and less time scowling at that person taking ten years at self-checkout or the idiot who apparently doesn’t know what a turn lane is. Enjoy freeing yourself and your happiness from your money. It feels pretty darn good.

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3 Responses to “Make free your default again”

  1. Quirks January 17, 2015 at 12:27 am #

    I hope you already know that I really really like your blog! This was such a great idea..!

    • laurenkcampbell January 29, 2015 at 11:29 am #

      Thanks! I like your blog too – and it’s always fun to get comments from people and not feel like you’re writing into the void 🙂

  2. Tim M January 12, 2015 at 11:48 am #

    Winter in Ohio is the season when the free festivals and concerts have been replaced with winter cold, snow and ice. This is when we turn to free art museums, galleries, and yes, the library. Books, music, videos, and even artwork to put on your walls are available for free. That is a bargain.

    Congratulations on your zero spend weekend. I think that it’s wonderful that you still managed to have a great and relaxing weekend.

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