When my last day of gainful employment was looming large, the Boy pronounced that people who are not working tend to spend more money than people who are employed. They have more free time on their hands and have to occupy themselves, and in turn, spend more money doing that.
I disagree with that view and have put together some tips (personally road-tested over the last four months) on how not to spend more money unemployed than while you did when employed:
- Instead of going to the gym and paying for membership, exercise by jogging or walking in parks or nature trails. Or lay a yoga mat in the park and engage in some rounds of Sun Salutations. If you really have to join a class, some places have community classes where you pay a token sum and the instructor is a graduate teacher chalking up teaching hours in order to complete her course. Win-win situation for student and teacher.
- Bring a water bottle with you when you are out and about. Not only will that save you buying mineral water (water costs more than a soft drink or juice in some places) or a soft drink (though water is healthier), it is also environmentally friendly not to add to more plastic waste. And you can refill your bottle throughout the day from any public tap.
- Where reasonably possible, walk to your destination instead of driving or taking public transport. While unemployed, you have nothing but time. Plus walking keeps you trim and fit. Incidental exercise is the best exercise in my book, as it doesn't feel like a chore. Walking kills time and allows you the luxury to literally stop and smell the roses. Time to gain more awareness of yourself and of your surroundings - good for both the body and soul.
- Join the local library. There is no more need to buy the latest bestsellers as most large libraries are extremely well-stocked and in tune with new releases. Most also stock DVDs and music CDs. You can borrow the book that has been recently made into a Hollywood movie, an old Woody Allen classic on DVD, and a large array of opera and jazz, all in one go. Reading will be a fruitful occupation of your time and will ensure that your mind does not deteriorate from lack of use during this out-of-work period.
- Cook more instead of eating out. Take the time and opportunity to experiment with recipes that you've always wanted to try but had no time. Home-cooked meals are usually cheaper and more nutritious than take-aways. Plus enlarging your culinary repertoire is always an asset socially for both men and women.
Use this down time effectively, to get fitter, healthier and wiser. And save some money doing it!