1. Be less of a miser with money
For the past two years, since I got a job, I've been constantly counting my money online. Writing and re-writing budgets, chasing my partner for the $20 they owe me for this or that (even though I earn more!). Getting angry with myself when I splurged on some books I'd been wanting to read, or spent lots of money on some zines. I'd finally gotten out of poverty and instead of enjoying the fact that I could finally do things that cost money, I was constantly worrying about money.
Enough is enough. It's been getting in the way of me having any fun with my life. I recently did some calculations and realised that in order to save enough for the bare minimum 20% deposit on a (comparatively cheap) house, it will take me about 7 years (age: 33) - if I don't get sick, my cats don't get sick, I don't get a car, I don't buy anything fun, I don't save for retirement, etc.
So instead of budgeting, I'm going to try and just enjoy myself. I'll buy music, go to gigs and other events, spend lots of money on that indoor composting system I've had bookmarked for two years and stop being miserable about money. I'll still save but I'm not going to be as obsessive about it.
Photo by Kurtis Garbutt. Shared under the Creative Commons licence.
2. Read less books, but more intently
Last year, according to Goodreads, I read 92 books and comics. It amounted to 52 comics, 24 non-fiction books and 16 fiction books. I worry that I didn't give the books the attention they deserve because I was too set on reaching the big numbers goal so I could gloat about it to myself. Part of it was because I hardly read while I was at uni, and now it felt like I was playing catch up.
This year my goal is just 30. I'll be attempting to read at least one book every two weeks, while writing notes, so that I can then write about them in detail. I feel like this will cause me to have a better relationship with book reading. It also means I won't be buying any (or many) books this year as I already have over 60 on my shelves that I haven't read yet (maybe I won't buy books for two years!). It was becoming a problem; I kept hearing about awesome books about feminism or racism or other important issues and having to buy them all!
3. Reconnect with my ethics
Back when I was living off Centrelink (~$11,000p.a.) while studying full time, I seemed to have a more stringent code of ethics. I would spend more on a book from Better World Books rather than buy it new. I would not buy any toys or junk or things I did not have a distinct need for. I would buy secondhand clothes where I could. I went to every rally I could. I talked a lot about things that were important to me. I donated to more charities. I gave out more money to people who asked (online and in the 'real' world). I did more Kiva loans.
Having a bigger income now means that I can do things like buy Who Gives A Crap toilet paper, or a Fairphone when mine dies, or Lush vegan hard shampoos (no packaging!), all of which would have seemed like luxuries to me when I was on Centrelink. I can also finally compost all my food waste and grow flowers on the balcony for native butterflies. I can afford to support local artists. So I intend to do more of these things and be less wasteful at the same time.
Image from Environmental Illness Network Minnesota and shared under the Creative Commons Licence.
4. Enjoy music again
For the last long while (probably since I was around 17) I've just been playing music in the background, constantly. Not paying any attention to it except when it annoyed me. So of course I've just ended up playing anything tagged 'ambient' on 8tracks. Not a bad thing in itself, I really enjoy it and it gives me something nice to listen to when I'm blogging or cleaning the house. But I remember when I used to be able to list off all my favourite artists, the song names and album names. I used to know the lyrics off by heart and I'd play an album 10 times in a row just because I enjoyed it so much.
I used to have headphones on wherever I went, so that I could constantly listen to all these great songs. I think part of that was due to how much music people shared with me, as well as walking around a lot more (not riding buses and reading books). A few computers and house moves later and I've been left with the CDs I bought when I was 17 (and my taste in music has changed a little in the last 9 years). I really miss listening to music.
I don't know how it happened, but I chanced upon Melanie Martinez (that's her album cover for Cry Baby up there) a few days ago. Her songs are very poppy, until you listen to the lyrics (content warnings for nearly everything in the book: r*pe, alcoholism, drug use, abuse, murder, dieting). I was hooked. It was great. I listened on youtube. And then I did something I hadn't done in a long time. I bought a CD. I ripped it and I played it over a few times. I had really missed that. Then I went and downloaded Blue King Brown's latest album. Then I remembered how much I had liked Jack Off Jill, and downloaded one of their albums.
So this year, I will be seeking out music. Through my revived last.fm account, 8tracks, spotify and by going to gigs that come up in suggested events on facebook. I'll also be buying myself some snazzy M50x headphones from Audio-Technica.
5. Don't beat myself up
Probably the biggest thing that I need to do is not beat myself up if I don't achieve the above. I'm never going to be perfect, and I'm never going to do what's in my best interest 100% of the time. That's okay. I expect to slip back into being a miser, and also to splurge money. I expect to slip up and buy things I don't need. But I'm going to keep working on being better, on accepting myself the way that I am and trying to make the world a slightly better place to be in.
Image by Donna Cleveland and shared under the Creative Commons Licence.
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