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On spending money and being frugal

I’m a pretty frugal person.

I don’t think I’m cheap (though maybe some people might think otherwise?) but there are some things that I know I don’t want to spend money than necessary on. It’s not about depriving myself, or getting the last cent shaved off, or trying to be a bargain hunter.

(Here’s an interlude to acknowledge that I’m definitely speaking from a place of privilege, to be even able to have choices to be frugal. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve had that kind of financial anxiety that only living paycheck to paycheck can gather, and now I can spend money without worrying too much.)

There are a few reasons why my spending habits are this way:

  1. I like being intentional with what I’m spending my money on, since there are other things I would rather spend my money on
  2. Having options with my money — bulking up my emergency savings, putting aside money for bigger ticket purchases like a new device or a vacation, or even just taking advantage of a bear market — brings me a sense of security
  3. I have a percentage in mind when it comes to my savings rate (and yes, this comes into the whole Financial Independence (and maybe Retire Early) thing, but the jury is still out on the latter)

And yet, in the past month, I found myself with a huge money decision to make: whether or not to sign up with a personal trainer so that I can really dial my fitness levels in. This is on top of the physiotherapy sessions I go to, because of my back betraying my body in general.

It’s not an insignificant sum of money: personal training would take up a huge percentage of my monthly expenses, and would set me back a bit of my target “retirement” age. It’s also a pretty huge cost upfront.

I’m doing it, though. As I’ve so rapidly found in the past couple of years, my health is worth more than the money I can afford to throw at it.

Believe me, it took a couple of days for me to come to this decision and reframe my position on it.

My initial thoughts: no way, I can just go to my cheap gym on my own, this is way too much, this is going to affect my spending by a whole lot.

Eventually, the combination of knowing exactly what my body fat percentage is right now (hint: way, way worse than I had always estimated) as well as wanting a professional to spot my form and fixing it where it’s hurting me won out.

Now, excuse me while I buy some gym shoes, because my Metcon 5s are literally breaking apart at the seams.

points of view

(Inspired by Brianna Wiest’s 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think)

  1. You’re still functional — physically, at least. You can walk and you can sit, and you can shrug off the pain when it gets a little too much.
  2. You hold on to your values, even when it’s easier to just go with the path of least resistance. You can be proud of who you are.
  3. Work is tough, and some days it’s annoying, but so many people would love to be doing what you do.
  4. You earn enough to live comfortably, to go where you want and eat what you desire; enough to live on your own terms.
  5. You’re allowed to think and ponder about what living on your own terms mean, and know that even though life isn’t ideal or where you’d thought it would be, it’s still a journey to get to where you envision it to be.
  6. You have the weekend to decompress, even if decompressing means losing track of time as you doom-scroll through Reddit.
  7. You just spent a good hour preparing for your lunches in the week ahead, and that is going to help with keeping track of actually eating lunch, which is something that has been a miss for so much of the last two years.
  8. You have comfort shows and movies that you can dive back into; an embrace into a familiarity that makes your brain feel happy.
  9. You have amazing friends. Quality > quantity, especially in this case.
  10. You think about all the different ways to get better, and to be better. You might fail and stumble along the way, but you’re still trying. You’re figuring it out. You’re still here.

When life gives you different-timezone-flavored lemons…

Look at me, a whole month ago, breaking down and analyzing my “new” routine at work, without realizing that all of that was going to get slightly upended when I got staffed on a project based out of the UK.

Needless to say, I did not do very well with the whole work-life balance or integration part of things. Working with the team that is 7 hours behind me meant that theoretically, I should be starting my day way later, but I was consistently pulling 14+ hours during the past month, and readers… It was no fun.

Sometimes I feel like a fraud when I find myself reminding other people on my team to take breaks, push back, and say no to things. I know I haven’t yet mastered (or even grasped, honestly) that yet for myself, and it’s definitely something I have to work on.

Anyway, now that the hell month is over, I should re-prioritize my life again. I know that writing this weekly makes me happy, but I’m also (constantly) fretting about what the Purpose™  and value of this all is.

I want to talk about productivity and habits and personal finance and minimalism and, and, and, but it is a field that is super saturated — though I do have my own personal spin on things, but fundamentals remain that. I want to be better at focusing on the craft of writing, and on long-form essays, and that is a muscle that I’m not always using. I want to start thinking about writing original fiction again, and doing that. I want to dabble in creating for other mediums (podcast? video? social media?), and becoming more of an expert in those things.

Lots of wants in my life, and not so much time or energy to be doing those!

(P.S. On Sunday I fell flat on my face, nearly, and hurt my elbow trying to do an ab wheel exercise that my physio is making me do, so that’s a nice little bow to the end of the work week.)

Settling (plunging) into my new routine

It’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve been told we need to work from the office on Mondays and Wednesdays. Personally, my productivity plunges underground, and because I have evening calls after those office hours, I’m finding myself pulling 14 hour days. It’s very sustainable!

Worse still is how un-ergonomic the office setup is (non-adjustable table; chairs with minimal back support; no proper foot rest; monitors from the 2010s if other people get to the three HDR monitors we have in the office), and that is fucking my back right up.

It takes a whole day to actually recover from that, sometimes more, and it’s affecting the quality of the rest of my life. I’m actually finding myself leaning on medication to keep the pain at bay, instead of being able to go to my bed and do some stretches if I were at home.

This has also been messing up a lot of my habits — a lot of them presumes one that can be predicted, or that I actually have the time to do it. These are some things I have to figure out how to best fit it into the new schedule:

  • Meal prep: Because our office days are Monday and Wednesday, and I’m inclined to buy a salad for lunch, I’m not sure if I should be batch-cooking on Sunday. I have the aforementioned evening calls that sometimes end at 11pm, and I’m not sure if I would have the time to spend the hour cooking on Tuesday evening/night to make sure I have food for the later part of the week.
  • Money: This is mostly just an adjustment and a mindset shift, because of the added costs of coffee, food, transport, and general I-see-a-thing-and-I-get-reminded-that-I-want-it.
  • Writing: This very hobby. How very meta, right? It’s not just the time that I use to write these out too, but actually finding the willpower to want to, after work ends (at 11pm sometimes). I’ve never missed more than 2 weeks of posting, until… this one, I guess, since this has been in my Notion drafts for that long.
  • Gym: In the same vein of writing, it takes Monday and Wednesday out of the rotation for potential gym days — I go in the mornings because it’s less crowded, but I also don’t want to sacrifice too much sleep time (which is also a problem if I’m commuting 2 hours a day)
  • Physio exercises: These are somewhat separated from actual gym time, because they’re more localized ab exercises compared to the equipment I need at the gym. I can try doing them at night, but sometimes I get too tired and lazy, and just… don’t.
  • Snacking: This is entirely on me, but we have a snack area and I find myself gravitating towards the dried mangos and Twisties because why not? (Why yes? @ myself)

Anyway, this feels a lot like complaining and very little of solutions, and I’m frustrated. Hopefully I’d have worked something out, found my groove, and working on being just that little bit more productive with my new routine. And without a 2+ weeks break for writing!