Apr 132012

I’ve often posted about debt and how it must be eliminated to really advance in life. It makes no difference if you’re hard core minimalist or a hoarder. If you have debt you have no freedom. There are however, other kinds of debt that for all intents and purposes are unavoidable. The kinds of debt I’m referring to ain’t the standard old take out a loan and pay interest type of debt. These are debts that a person incurs without doing anything more than simply existing. Take my own current situation:

As you know I’m trying to live on $50 a day for the year. I’m limiting my spending to the essentials and cutting back on waste. The chart so far looks like this…


Pay attention to the bottom lines. We are about 104 days into the year so it’s fairly easy to break down the categories into daily expenses. Based on this chart, I know, that when I wake up in the morning, or even more so, when I am sleeping, at the stroke of midnight, I will have incurred debt.

Tomorrow, no matter what else I do, I will owe $20 to keep a roof over my head. I know that even though I might be able to skip a meal or two, it’s going to cost me $12 for that day to feed my fat lazy ass, and the two cats. It’s going to cost me $8 to keep the electric on, the Internet running, and a working phone. There is also going to be $20 in misc. expenses which will grow substantially next week with the tax bill. I’m rounding up here just to make the point rather than get into exact numbers.

Now, to some extent I can control some of this debt but not all of it. I pretty much have the transportation bill about as low as it can get. I discussed all that in a previous post. I could cut back a little here and there on the utilities but not much if I want to maintain an effective Internet connection. My electric bill is about as low as it can get if I still want to live in the 21st. century with all those new fangled contraptions like lights and refrigerators. Yeah I could shut off the ac and sweat like a pig all day but no, I don’t think so for now. What I’m trying to point out here is even though I’ve managed to trim my lifestyle down to the barebones, I still need X numbers of dollars everyday just to live this exotic lifestyle I’m enjoying at the moment.

In fact, it’s near impossible for anyone to be able to exist in today’s society without the need to spend some money every single day they are alive. Living ain’t cheap no matter how hard we try. I’m not trying to depress everyone but reality is what it is. We are high maintenance. While it is possible to roam about homeless and avoid rent, we still need to eat and clothe ourselves. Ours is a money centric existence and there is not much we can do to avoid it if we want to live like civilized human beings.

One thing this budgetary exercise has done for me is open my eyes to the real simple costs of life. I’ve started to appreciate how each and every dollar is spent. Even more so since I’m having a bitch of time gaining an income at the moment. I think twice about dropping a couple bucks for a drink at a convenience store or vending machine. Impulse buying is out of the loop. I only buy what I need and when I need it. I’m mindful of what things cost much more now than I was a few years ago. When you start seeing the totals add up as I have on that chart, you get a keen sense of not wanting to spend and waste so much money. While I can’t make up for past monetary mistakes, I sure can play a little catch up with them now and not repeat them.

So how about you? What does your budget look like? How much debt will you incur when the clock strikes midnight tonight, tomorrow, and the day after. It won’t stop just because you don’t have the money or can’t pay it. This kind of debt doesn’t take a day off. There are no grace periods. The best thing you can do is similar to what I’m doing. Not necessarily live on $50 a day, but chart out your expenses on a daily basis and see if and where you can cut back. Put a little thought and research into what you spend every day. Where is the waste? What is essential? Sometimes all it takes is a simple spreadsheet and some math to wake you up. That’s all it took for me.

Capt. Fritter

  2 Responses to “Debt, it’s really unavoidable…”

  1. A few years ago I read about a man who lived in a cave in Utah. He survived without money by foraging and dumpster diving. That is more minimalist than most of us will ever be – I expect to always have expenses. I have made more than my share of stupid money moves & ended up with major debts (the loan & pay interest kind). I am on the very verge of getting rid of the last of it, and will never be in debt again. I need my budget spreadsheet to control my expenses – otherwise money just disappears into thin air. If I don’t pay attention, I vastly underestimate what I’m spending on food, little conveniences, dining out, etc.

    • The day you pay off the last of the debt will be like getting out of prison. The trick is to stay out.