Saturday, January 28, 2017

How to be Cheap in Key West

I've been on the island for two days shy of one month. I've eliminated an enormous amount of frivolous spending. I've kept track of each purchase on a spreadsheet. What I used to consider frugal has been cut more than in half. I've gone a hair over $500 in spending. That figure includes all of my food, entertainment, and gas. I am not including business expenses. I am speaking of personal expenses which lifestyle choices control.

I have everything I need. My wants are coming into clear focus. I live in a van, so I don't pay rent. I ride a bicycle, so I only needed one tank of gas. I drank wine out of a jar, and I cooked lots of rice. I loaned my friend twenty bucks, but he paid me back.

I could save more money with access to refrigeration or buying in bulk. I could cook better food if I wasn't slightly stupid. I do not feel concerned about those things. I am happy to improve at the slowest of paces. I am happy and healthy. Awake and alive.

Budgeting this month was a project and a challenge. I loved it, so I'm not going to stop. Living in Key West is universally assumed to cost an arm and a leg - but my low spending even includes some happy hour expenses. It would be simple to cut that out. This is a tropical island, where it is legal to sit down and drink on the sidewalk, or under a canopy of trees. With these stats who needs a bar?

I didn't buy anything wasteful. I considered each dollar carefully before it was spent. I bought two coffees at Starbucks, which was to ensure I'd be welcome to sit inside for twelve hours. The rest of my coffee was french press in the van. I didn't buy a single sandwich or prepared meal. I bought wings at a bar, and they were increasingly lamentable, getting progressively worse every time.

I had fun. I met other people who like to go dirtbagging. Sometimes we cooked and shared food. A gang of us went to a show at the Parrot. I drank wine across the street under a majestic old tree, then reinserted myself into the bar to dance. I ran out of wine, and began to sober up, until Clay played the hero and got everyone high. On nights like these, none of us spent a dollar. We stayed out late and had fun.

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