As promised, here’s the next instalment of what I’ve learned living on less.
If you haven’t yet read the prequels this may make very little sense to you. Go read them first. I’ll wait.
The power of habit
While doing this challenge I re-read one of my all-time favourite books, The Power of Habit. The timing couldn’t have been better reminding myself how habits work really helped me get through the first two weeks especially.
Part of the reason living on less than $2 was so hard for the first few days was that so many of my habits were working against me.
I’m sure you can empathise – just imagine these scenarios and see if they’re at all familiar:
- Every morning after my ride… I crave a coffee.
- Having friends over for a BBQ… I crave a beer.
- After 40km on the bike or at 3pm in the office… I crave a snack.
Using the ideas covered in ‘The Power of Habit’ I was thrilled to find ways of replacing the routine part of the habit loop that were within my budget.
For these three habits I managed to use about 1-2 tea cheap tea bags per day to replace both coffee and beer (iced tea!). Making a large thermos or jug helped my sanity enormously for only a couple of cents of ingredients. For snacking I introduced peanut button on white bread – not the healthiest but I would be in serious calorie deficit without substituting my snacking with something half-decent.
Fortunately I was already equipped better than some people to take on this challenge because of the habits I already formed prior to starting it.
I’m already a very frugal guy, I do a lot of mental maths and love my spreadsheets as well as things like packing my lunches, cooking in bulk, traveling by bike and drinking less alcohol. I also have a daily practice of gratitude, journaling and mindfulness that helped me keep my brain in the right place for this (reminding myself daily what I am doing, why I am doing it and what actions I need to take).
Restricting my spend would have been much harder had I not found ways replace various routines in the habit loop with sufficient replacements and started with a few helpful habits already.
What about you?
Do you have any stories of habits you’ve changed – or any ones you’re struggling with?
Let me know in the comments below and I’ll send one of my favourite books to the author of my favourite comment.