Thursday, 26 June 2008

Poor But Happy; Vulgar, me?

I’ve been working about twenty five hours a week for the last nine years, so I’m used to not having that much money coming in. Going part-time let me do more stuff that I care about, like writing fiction, which is time-consuming and doesn’t bring in any money. But about a year ago I started doubting the choice I’d made. I felt a bit of a loser, and that I was sacrificing too much for doing the things I wanted.
So, to cheer myself up, I decided on the experiment that eventually resulted inthis zine. The idea was that I’d put into practice all my hard-earned frugal living skills in a structured way over the course of one year (2005). Assuming a pound saved is as good as a pound earned I tried to show myself I’m no worse off than if I was working full-time and living the sort of life that advertisers and the media present as normal.
My take-home pay’s about £7.69 an hour. If a typical working week’s 37 hours then, in cash terms, my economical ways would have to compensate for 12 hours @ £7.69, i.e. £92.28 per week. Where I give a figure for what I’ve saved I also put the amount of time I didn’t need to work as a result. The savings included are open to pretty much everyone. They might involve changing a few habits but aren’t based on going without things I like, but having cheaper equivalents instead. By the way, I’m not getting a bung off any of the companies I mention. It’s a lovely thought though.
There’s a trend lately for books on so-called ‘downshifting’, and I wouldn’t be wildly pleased to be lumped in with that trend. The underlying message of a lot of those writers is, ‘I’m actually quite posh and successful you know – I’m not just some wanker who doesn’t earn much.’ Me, I really am just some wanker who doesn’t earn much. For all that, I recommend a few of the better books covering related areas at the back of the zine. I’ve put a number in brackets when I’ve sourced facts from them, except where I can’t remember how I found something out.
It’s not just about me being a sad, penny-pinching tight-arse, although obviously that’s a big part of it. The environmental and social impact of a culture based on pissing money up the wall is huge. I’ve tried to include info relevant to that too.
Anyway, that’s enough explanation – let’s save some money!

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