Here is a list of some of the things I/we do…

  • We have a charcoal grill. We got it on freecycle. Once it dies, we’ll get another one—California is abundant in superfluous grills and entertainment centers; if you got the carpentry skills, you could probably build a house out of a week’s worth of discarded entertainment centers :-P .
  • We buy the biggest bag of coal we can get having used a calculator to calculate the cheapest cost / weight (total cost is not an issue). Rather than using special long matches or a disposable lighter, I tear a strip of paper of the bag of coal and use my refillable Delta Windmill lighter (I dare you to find a better lighter than this!) to set it on fire. It’s pressured propane, hurricane proof, and it can also be used for soldering. Eventually it burns. I start the grill. I love BBQing on the porch outside the RV. It’s like camping every day :-)
  • Paperbackswap announces that one of the books from my wish list is available. I get it.
  • It’s car free day today. We save the gas and ride our bikes 2 miles to the supermarket to get chicken and bread. Why not take the car? Because driving a car can never provide the same satisfaction as riding a bike. Because owning a Mustang that can go from 0-whatever in 5 seconds can never provide the same satisfaction as having a set of legs that can beat said mustang over a distance of 30 yards from a red light.
  • I darn a sock. I get matching socks. That way if I lose one in the wash, I don’t have to throw the other one out.
  • No time for movies. I got a book to write. I rearrange a couple of sections for the 5th time.
  • I don’t go to the gym. Instead I go out to the shed and haul out a 24kg kettlebell and a 32kg kettlebell. I do a few sets with each. Then I turn on the water hose and water the huge tomato plants. I pluck a leaf of basil and eat it. I also give one to the dog, he’s a vegetable hound. We also have pepper, cucumber, chives, and other spices.
  • I discover a new artist on pandora. Then I go to youtube and get them to play it. I’m a bandwidth pig.
  • I soak some beans. I’ll cook them in pressure cooker later.
  • Occasionally I get a $10 coupon. I use it to pay $4.5 for a pair of underwear that usually sells for $14.5. I hate cheap underwear. It has pretty much turned into a ritual. I wonder when the store will catch on?
  • Another store sends me a $25 gift card once a year. Consequently, I shop there once a year, usually a 50% off item. Last time I spent $5 on a $60 sweater. I still have too much clothes.
  • I line dry, so our clothes last forever. I should probably start giving those gift cards away instead, huh?
  • I check eBay. I’m bidding on some pedals. I have already lost four auctions by a few dollars, but some day I am going to get lucky. It’s not so much the price as the challenge of getting them. Buying things from a shelf is just too easy and so there is no associated story. No fun in that.
  • Once I get the pedals, I am going to install them myself.
  • I battle some equation formatting for half an hour. I make 20 bucks. Then I go outside and do some sword drills.
  • I log into my broker account. I see that one of my stocks is close to its predetermined selling point. I write calls on it and pocket 450 bucks. Makes my day.
  • I give away some CDs on freecycle. I get a free tomato cage. Good karma.
  • The water pump is broken. I fix it.
  • I’m editing a new magazine. I’m writing a book. I entertain myself by producing things.
  • I really need to rig my PS2 to the rear TV. I haven’t touched it since we moved into this place more than half a year ago. I just don’t seem to have the time to play games.
  • The beans get combined with tomatoes from the garden, a few onions from a 10lb bag for $1 (I am not making this up, check out the specials on smartandfinal.com), and some zucchini for a sauce that lasts a few days.
  • The dog is awake. I walk him around the block. We sprint the last quarter of the distance. He can still keep up.
  • It’s getting warm, I open the windows to get a draft.
  • It’s cold, I put on an extra layer of clothes.
  • I check my library account. I have 17 books and DVDs checked out and 8 on hold. Some have arrived. I get on my bike. It’s a 13 mile roundtrip. I pass a couple of slow dentists on very expensive bikes. I go past the evening commute. Long lines of stuck traffic; angry people in cars designed to go much faster than they are. Glad I’m not sitting there.

What I do is to look carefully at WHEN and WHERE I spend. By doing so, I can usually get the same things for a quarter of the price.

This has become so natural to me that I frankly no longer know how normal people manage to spend loads of money? Honestly, I have no idea. I mean, I could buy stuff, but I would quickly run out of space to put it in? What do they do? Just throw it out? I do see garages full of discarded crap, but that can’t account for all of it?! If I walked into a store, I wouldn’t know what to buy. Going out to eat seem like such a hassle when I can whip up the equivalent in 20 minutes or about the same time it takes to drive and find a parking spot. There are only a few things, you can get in restaurants we can’t make, like sushi. I guess, there’s the movies, but I don’t have the attention span to sit through 2 hours of Hollywood; can I bring a book? “Winning a $5000 shopping spree” means nothing to me. I would spend $27 dollars before running out of ideas. Even if I bought something in there, I could never get the satisfaction of finding a solution that didn’t involve shopping. It would be a failure. I feel sad for people, the sacrifices they make so that can keep spending money. Yes, it sounds backwards, I know, but what can we do. It’s two different worlds.