Monday, April 15, 2019

a month of no spending

So I've thought about how to approach this month of austerity, which will last from April 17 (the day after payday) to May 16—and possibly beyond, if this new lifestyle proves bearable. I won't be starving myself by adhering to a W100,000 budget; I realized fairly quickly that that would be insane, and like any addict, I'd find a way to cheat, anyway. Better to take a temet nosce approach ("know thyself") and cook a month's worth of food in advance, then live only that food during the month between paydays. I'm almost done cooking everything up; tonight, I cook the second-to-last dish, which is burritos. Here's the menu thus far, with a number in parentheses representing approximately the number of days I can eat the item in question.

• chorizo with rice and beans (5)
• chicken/shrimp curry (4) with rice
• beef burritos (5), including Mexican rice
budae-jjigae (6)
• beef with chimichurri (1)—this one will die early
• oatmeal/egg/sausage breakfast (5)
• spaghetti bolognese (4)
• tuna/egg salad (3)
• Soylent, to fill the gaps (5)

The idea will be to adhere to an intermittent-fasting regimen of one largish (but not over-largish) meal per day. No further food shopping during the month; I have to complete my shopping before the period begins (i.e., by the end of Tuesday the 16th). I will also save money by walking both to and from work (I normally walk home from work, but I'll begin walking to work to save on cab/subway fare). I will also not order any new movies via Amazon Prime or iTunes (I have a ton of movies in both my queues, anyway), and as I mentioned earlier, I won't be prepping any more giant office luncheons for the foreseeable future. The idea is to spend as close to literally nothing as possible from April 17 to May 16.

There will be some cheat days this month, though. "Avengers: Endgame" comes out at the end of April, so I'll definitely be spending money to watch that (probably with my Korean buddy and his son), although I may try walking out to the local cinema and back (it's only 80 minutes one way). I'm also doing my insane 60-kilometer walk this coming weekend (Easter weekend), which roughly marks the two-year anniversary of when I began my trans-Korea walk in 2017 (I actually began the walk on April 22 that year). I'll have to spend money to stay for two nights at that River House motel in Yangpyeong.

Buying the food for a month of eating was expensive. My bill is probably over W300,000, but it's still less than I'd spend on snacks and eating out (plus actual meals) over a normal month. If I try to do another no-expenses month after this one, I'll need a week or so to spend a few hundred bucks to buy ingredients and prep meals. The point of this exercise isn't so much about getting my life in order (although there's a bit of a self-improvement component, too) as it is about being able to send exactly $3000/month to my US bank account to dump directly into my Navient scholastic debt. If I'm able to send $6000/month every other month until the end of the year, then I'll be debt-free by the end of the year. If, for whatever reason, I can't hold to this budget, then I'll just have to zero out my debt in early 2020. That's not ideal, but better late than never.

My great fear is that, given my luck and the fact that the cosmos tends to work against me, I'll zero out my debt and suddenly discover I've got testicular cancer or some bullshit like that. My mother's luck ran much the same way: she survived the trauma of the Korean war, had a stressful time raising us three boys, reconciled late in life with her abusive older sister, then got brain cancer right as the contractors were about to finish renovating her house. She didn't even have the chance to enjoy her newly refurbished home. And as superstitious as it might sound, I do fear that my own fate is going to follow Mom's trajectory. There are problems in my life that I know are completely my fault—things I've done to myself through stupidity or arrogance or laziness. But there are also problems that I've had to cope with that stem from circumstances beyond my control, and it's those things that frustrate me the most and make me feel constantly thwarted by the cosmos. A good Buddhist attitude would accept that life never goes straight from A to B, but I'm not a good Buddhist.

Anyway... baby steps. No catastrophe has happened yet, and I'm still on the road to being debt-free. We'll see how things pan out in another eight-ish months. And won't you be happy that, sometime next year, I'll stop writing about my goddamn debt?


Kevin Kim said...

Just a placeholder for the comment by John Mac that I accidentally deleted. John wrote some very encouraging words, and I've privately apologized to him for erasing them.

Charles said...

It does indeed suck when the universe throws you a curve ball... that proceeds to veer toward you and nail you right in the sack. Here's hoping there are no nut-bound pitches coming your way.