Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What the Spanish taught me about money

from lifehacker.com

This is what I feel like I've been doing with money lately. Money can never make it to the piggy bank because I burn it on a new kitchen. A trip to Williamburg. A trip to Spain. Meals out. Trinkets on the internet.

Yes, the kitchen's gorgeous and was ultimately worth the expense. It took up a lot of time and kept me from feeling bored or depressed. Going to Spain was also another expensive distraction. Williamsburg was a trip to lift my mood (and reconnect with good family).

In Spain I lived for three weeks with a wonderful, wonderful 76 year-old lady. This woman had her life figured out. She was extremely wealthy but didn't live like it. She took students because they were interesting, not because she needed the moolah. She lived off the interest of her many assets and mostly spent money on two things:

 
Food. The food she made was incredible, and I took notes. After a couple weeks I noticed something weird. I had absolutely no desire to eat out. At all. When I got home I heard a quote from Paul Newman: "Why should I go out for a burger when I've got a steak at home?"  Her food was so good that I didn't miss eating out one bit.


Quality time with family and friends. She'd visit her daughter and grandson weekly. Each day at 10 AM she'd go take a walk and meet friends for a $2 coffee, then chat away the morning. Her adult son stopped by each day for lunch (this is normal in Spain).

I didn't see her spend money on anything else except medicine, rent and utilities. She cleaned the house daily and it was immaculate and a joy to stay there. And in spite of being a widow she was one of the happiest people I've ever met. I don't think my home needs to be immaculate but I do think that a clean, decluttered home makes you want to stay and relax there and not need so many distractions.

What to take from this? If my goal is to stop shopping to fill an emotional void, I want to try to attack that emotional void like a Spaniard.

1. Focus more on preparing really, really good food.
2. Spend more time with friends
3. Clean the house a bit every day.
4. Walking every day.

These things should make me happy and take up quite a bit of time. I'll be less bored, healthier, and happier, I hope. Maybe less in debt in the end. It's an experiment. Let's see how it goes!



13 comments:

  1. Wow! Sounds like you had an amazing trip! And your plan sounds like an excellent one to me. I can't believe you were able to take so much time off of work. I never would have been able to do something like that back when I had a job.

    Anyhow, reading this made me realize that I have absolutely NO consciousness of Spain... it's sorta like a big black hole in my mind. It's kinda ironic for a person who has studied Spanish for the greater part of her life - but in my warped little view of the universe Spain sorta stopped existing after about the year 1600!

    Anyhow, I'm eager to hear more about your trip and all the amazing things you got to do!

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    1. It was definitely a wonderful, life-changing experience. I got so lucky with my job. They give us awards in the form of time off, not so much in the form of money, which meant that I had a LOT of vacation days. I earned the vacation time fair and square so they couldn't really aruge, which was a blessing.

      Before I left for Spain the first time I was just like you! We'd never studied anything about it, only about South America. I'll definitely do more posts of pictures in the future. Once I sort through the 1000 or so of them!

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  2. A great post! I think that you really have described the important things in life...it took me many many years to realise these...my problem in my youth was the 'keeping up with the Joneses' and worrying about what 'the neighbours would say'!

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    1. Thank you! I would say it definitely still is a problem for me to avoid keeping up with the joneses. but trying to be spanish instead may help me! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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  3. Healthy eating, good relationships, a comfortable home and exercise. I reckon that's an excellent recipe for a fulfilled life! Good luck and keep us posted.

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    1. Sounds pretty cushy to me too! Will definitely keep you all posted. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. So cool that you stayed with a native! Good food and exercise paired with good people cheers me up every time, so I have to agree with her philosophy :)

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    1. It made me pretty happy too. Definitely looking forward to including more Spanish aspects into my life.

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  5. Looking forward to hearing more about your trip, especially they different way of looking at the past that you learnt from your history class.

    I'm inspired by your description of the lifestyle of your host and what she spent her money on- I had already decided to try and cut out my extraneous spending- which isn't that excessive, but I do tend to get excited by the idea of a new thing when actually I could make do with something I already have. The lure of shiny and new is strong!
    As part of this, I want to stop the habit of thinking 'I can't be bothered to cook' and therefore making a trip to the supermarket to buy oven pizza (or similar). More forward planning required! (I may have said this before..) We have plenty in the store cupboards to eat! And yesterday, the first veg from my new allotment :)

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    1. Remind me to post about the history class if I don't ;o)

      I've definitely found that it helps to attack the "I can't be bothered to cook" question when I'm not tired, even if I'm not hungry or time to plan dinner. Ratcheting up the quality of the ingredients we've been getting has helped a lot in the last week. You won't want to waste really good quality food you've bought. Let me know how the new veg allotment is. Do you get to choose or is it a market basket?

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  6. What a wise lady your Spanish landlady sounds! Makes me want to go and revisit Spain, somewhere I haven't been for years.

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    1. she definitely was! I hope you're able to go to Spain sometime soon. In the past when I couldn't visit I would just use google maps street view to take "walks" down city streets in Spain. Not exactly the real thing, but it's great for a trip down memory lane.

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