Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thoughts On Time and Money

I have spent a lot of time in the past few days performing maintenance on things I own: myself, my dog & my car.

My stress levels have been elevated lately and thus been making me sick to my stomach. That ended up with a trip to the school clinic and a couple of prescriptions. The visits are free and prescriptions are reduced since we pay medical fees in our tuition. I lost about 2 days of productivity, but suffered even more days since I felt bad. It is pretty terrible how stress can wreak so much havoc on the body, especially when things happen that we have no control over. Money spent on Rx: $31.

The dog was WAY overdue for her vaccines and what not. I found a low-cost clinic that seemed like a good deal. My vet wanted $130 for an exam & shots plus the cost of heart worm preventative. The clinic charged about $40 for the shots and another $40 for the heart worm pills. That seems like a really good deal until you are standing in a line of people 20 deep and contending with a pit bull mix that has clearly not been socialized! It took the same amount of time for the low-cost vs. the regular vet, however, it was not even a remotely calm event. I don't think it would be worth the extra $100 for less chaos, but it is too bad that more realistic pricing usually equals craziness. Hopefully there is a happy medium to be found the next time around (like a vet with a real office that charges less than my regular one, but maybe more than the clinic). Money spent on dog: $84

I got my oil changed a few weeks ago and they informed me that my tires, alignment and brakes were bad! Well the tires were definitely ready to be replaced and I got that done last week. I was ready to tackle the alignment today. I have family that works in the automotive industry and they recommended a place that was pretty far away. I trust them though, so I drove the 20 minutes to get there, yet still worried about what the damage was (to the car AND my wallet). It turned out to be a pleasant experience with the tech telling me that nothing was wrong. Apparently the model of car I have ALL have slight camber (tilting) of the wheels. He informed me that if I ever changed the struts, that I could then have some work done to correct the manufacturers design flaw. Thank goodness for people with expertise! He totally had an opportunity to upsell me and hit my wallet hard, but he didn't. There wasn't even a charge for the inspection. And for the record, he didn't know about my family recommending them until after he gave me the good news. I wish there were more businesses like that in the world!
Money spent on car: $0 (not including gas to get there)

The money spent was $115, but the time cost was huge. I think we pay an enormous premium for convenience in our society. I could have easily tripled my costs if I wasn't trying to be conscious of my spending. I feel fortunate that I have more free time than I did with my 9-hour a day job since I can better research and compare things. That is one of the best perks about living more simply and mindfully.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Is Minimalism Elitist?

I read a lot of blogs on "minimalism". Quite frankly, I am getting real tired of some of these blogs on minimalism! Suggestions on ditching your car to move to a car free city such as San Francisco or New York seem so utterly ridiculous. "Cars are antisocial"??? Seems to me that moving to a city where you don't know anyone and walking away from an existing social network for the sake of not having a car would be the epitome of anti-social behavior.

Let us now move to cost of living. I don't pay state income tax where I live. If I did pay state income tax, it may not be equal to what I spend owning a car every year, but it isn't nothing either. Is minimalism about the feeling you get when paying higher taxes which makes up the difference for all the non-consuming of tangible goods?

What exactly is a "minimalist" then? I don't feel that it is someone who needs to move to a particular locale or adhere to precepts such as being carless. To me, minimalism shouldn't have overbearing rules and shame on those who are trying to give it such.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Questioning Transportation

I was reading the blog Far Beyond the Stars this morning when I read something that struck a chord: Get Rid of Your Car.


I live in one of the biggest, if not THE biggest city in America without mass transit. I also happen to do travelling massage therapy. Can you imagine what it would be like to pedal around on a bike with a massage table strapped to your back? Even if there were buses, I am sure the riders wouldn't appreciate me lugging a massage chair on and off the bus, potentially hitting kneecaps with it.

Now what? Change professions, right? I should find a job I can do out of my home so I don't need a car! The problem with that idea is that I travel to people's home (75+ in age) when it is sometimes difficult for them to even walk! I go to places of business so that people can experience some tension relief at the place that is probably causing much of it: work! If I drive to an office and 10 people get a massage from me, that could potentially mean that 10 people aren't driving around town to go to someone else for a massage, thus saving resources.

It feels as if the blog is asserting that in order to be a "minimalist", you need to live in a high-density urban city. New York City, NO THANKS! I am not the type who thrives off of noise, lots of people and a concrete jungle.

I have been to some very beautiful and remote places that could only happen by driving there. I am not willing to forgo exploring for the sake of saving some money by getting rid of my car since it is an expense. The statement that the world will be car-free someday is incredibly unrealistic. I would definitely like to read about what kind of a world the author is envisioning. In my world, people aren't going to walk themselves to the hospital when they have had a heart attack. Essential items like toothbrushes, cups and clothing all need to be transported somehow.

One theme I keep coming across in this new "minimalism" is that it doesn't celebrate the many differences of people who can live minimally, just in different ways. I feel incredibly fortunate to be debt-free, however, I would rather have debt from owning a car since debts would be far greater without a car! Cars aren't inherently bad either, as a society though, we haven't pushed enough for better and cleaner technology which seems to me to be the bigger problem.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Getting Back On the Horse

I can't believe it has been almost a year since I last blogged! I am not happy with myself about that. I am still continuing down a path that I am satisfied with. There is one more class I need to finish my BA degree this summer. I make a little bit of money doing a very part-time job and have continued to uncover possessions that I no longer need.

I have been searching the web for as much I as can read about minimalism and how people work towards making it happen. I am digging deeper than ever before to shed anything that doesn't make me feel joy and happiness when I look at it, touch it, feel it, eat it, etc. My goal is not to ultimately become a minimalist (and definitions vary widely about what one is). The goals I have in mind are to become immensely aware of EVERYTHING I own and to break out of old thinking and habits I had that didn't bring me joy and happiness.