This is a monthly update on a personal challenge I set for myself in 2013. My goal: living lagom on $20,000 a year. See the Challenge page for past updates. Please note that these posts will be loooong.
|EXPENSE||NOVEMBER||YEAR TO DATE|
There were no new categories added this month. See past challenge updates for an explanation of the previous categories.
observations and insights
Here are my thoughts on this month’s expenditures:
- Another month under $1,000! I have my low rent and transportation costs to thank for that. I also haven’t been spending as much on groceries and entertainment as I have in months (and years) past.
- Even with my low monthly total, I was still able to buy a new dress and top. Well, they were new to me. I bought them secondhand at a thrift store.
- The rain boots I purchased earlier this year have met with an early demise. They may get replaced this year or next, depending on whether I find what I’m looking for. In the meantime, I will wear my brown boots. This is why, even though I advocate one love, I still believe in having at least two shoe options per season – especially when there’s snow outside.
- I had to add an extra dollar to my giving fund during Lent because I used a disposable cup. I finally donated that dollar! I gave it to The Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Fund. I actually saved my poppy from last year. I sewed it onto a safety pin so I wouldn’t lose it. I like the significance of wearing a poppy, but I don’t like seeing the waste of lost plastic poppies everywhere. I’ll be “spending” the rest of my giving fund in December.
tips of the month
Here are this month’s tips:
- Find your calamari. If you want to be social during this festive season while on a budget, you can! When going to restaurants, order from the appetizer or soup menu to keep costs down . . . or just have dessert. Personally, I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself if I only order something like calamari. I’d never make calamari at home and I rarely eat anything deep-fried this days, so it’s a real treat. And sometimes, you can make a trade with a friend for a french fry or two, in exchange for a piece of calamari.
- Perfect your signature party dish. Come up with your own specialty dish that you can bring to holiday parties. Get creative with side dishes or desserts that can be made for under $5.
- Host a potluck. Back in the day (way back in the day), I used to host several potlucks a year. Each potluck would have a theme. For example, there was the “Dipping Potluck.” Guests had to bring a food item that had an accompanying dip (i.e. pita bread and hummus, veggies and ranch dressing, strawberries and chocolate fondue). It’s fun for guests to come up with an idea that fits the theme and it saves you money.
- Make a store flyer garland. Since I only kept my favorite Christmas decorations after the big purge of 2010 (and 2011 and 2012 . . .), I like to supplement them with an annual garland made from old store flyers. It’s my anti-consumerist/consumerist statement for the holidays. And it’s recyclable once the season is over.
the living lagom part of the equation
Below is my own personal interpretation of how I’m living well on less.
books of the month
I read, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf this month. This is actually a non-fiction, extended essay with a fictional narrative on the topic of women and fiction. (Try saying that ten times fast!) I often like to jokingly say that I just want a room of my own, but up until this month, I hadn’t read the basis for that statement.
I enjoyed reading this essay. I think things have definitely improved for us ladies in regards to writing since this essay was first published in 1929. I’d actually like to explore the concept of “a room of one’s room” more fully in a future blog post. So I’ll leave it there for now, except to say this: Virginia writes that if William Shakespeare had a sister, she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to use her genius during that time in history. Given how my mind works, I now think that the ”real” William Shakespeare MUST have been a female! Ah, conspiracy theories . . .
I’m rereading the living well on less books I initially recommended in this post. For the month of November I reread, Savvy Chic: The Art of More for Less by Anna Johnson. I still really enjoyed this book, but at times, I found it a little overwhelming. I image Anna surrounded by a plethora of things. However, I love her romantic and nostalgic way of writing.
The book is a memoir with lots and lots of tips on her philosophy on money and enjoying the savvy chic life. She classifies herself with having a Libertine thrift and has made an art of balancing luxuries with the basics. A lot of which came from having a very free-spirited upbringing.
Anna writes that she’s not thrifty by nature, and thus, cannot have credit cards, or else her urge to indulge in luxury would be too great.
I love how she writes of making a cup of tea at a grand hotel last three hours. Or getting cheap pillowcases from Chinatown, then ironing them with linen water (though I don’t believe in irons). Or reading Proust while waiting at the laundromat. Simple, yet extravagant.
She offers so many amazing tips on shopping for vintage clothes, entertaining well on the cheap, making the best of a rental apartment, traveling in style, what to do when you can’t afford to travel and even how to have an affordable, but perhaps unconventional, savvy chic wedding.
I particularly enjoyed the section on income. Anna works as a freelance writer, and since she lives without any credit cards, she often finds herself down to her last penny. I like her attitude when it comes to scarcity – for her, it doesn’t exist!
Here are my favorite lines from the book:
“Money is the heartbeat of life but hardly the soul.”
” . . . what I cannot reach financially I re-create, or fake, or imagine, or legally steal.”
” . . . money can also blunt you to the power of simplicity and the potency of your own imagination.”
movies of the month
I didn’t watch many movies this month. I did go to the theatre to see Gravity. I’d heard it was really good, so I wanted to check it out. I was even willing to pay the extra price for 3D, which I rarely do. (Okay, so I didn’t actually know that it was 3D until I was at the ticket counter and almost didn’t see it because of the extra cost, but since it was a half-priced Tuesday, I splurged.)
The film had amazing effects, so the 3D was worth it. I feel like I’ve been to outer space now. (Bucket list – check!) I also thought Sandra Bullock did a great job; however, I’m sort of biased since I’ve had a girl-crush on her ever since Love Potion No. 9. Overall though, I felt like the storyline was sort of average . . . something was missing.
Since moving in with my sister in September, I’ve also fallen back into the trap of reality television. But thankfully, it’s just one show: Survivor. I think I fell because many of the current “survivors” are from the earlier seasons when I used to watch it on a regular basis. And they’re playing with their loved ones. Such drama! Ah well, it’ll be over soon.
song of the month
I’m adding a second song selection from the movie Country Strong to my granny’s playlist. This time it’s Coming Home by Gwyneth Paltrow. I really like Gwyneth’s voice and I love the lyrics of this song. Though I’m not entirely sure I’m done with all of my running . . .
mind, body & spirit
As promised, here’s an update on my NaNoEdMo challenge: I have successfully completed the first round of revisions on my novella! I struggled at times, but I made it through. However, I think I was a little naive to think that one round of revisions would be sufficient. So I will continue to make revisions before I submit it to my selected readers for their thoughts in the new year.
I also ended up buying the Scrivener software program. I really like how it organizes the chapters and scenes in my little book. It’s a lot easier to play around with than the set-up I had in Microsoft Word.
favorite experience of the month
I got to watch the World Cup qualifying soccer matches with my sister and Baby Buttercup – on television, not live. I’m a big fan of Euro Cup and World Cup. Soccer is one of the only sports, besides tennis, that I really like watching.
These games were on during “regular working hours,” but since I don’t have those, I could see it. And after some very nerve-wrecking moments, my team (Portugal) got through! Ironically, they had to beat Sweden (home of lagom) to get there.
One month and $6,893.44 to go! Will I spend it all on a gambling rampage? My money is on: no.
This post contains affiliate links from my living lagom bookstore. If you buy any books from my bookstore, I’ll earn a tiny commission. Or you could just get the books from your local library.