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.