Well, I survived January on my Voluntary Simplicity vow! Actually, I way more than survived; I have had a great time and felt more "in integrity" with myself and my beliefs than I have felt for a long time... maybe since I was too young to have beliefs.
I decided to do an accounting of my first month of self-imposed "poverty," to see how close I came to sticking to a budget of $9350 per year, or $779 per month. Here is the breakdown of what I spent, trying to live very frugally this month:
Rent & utilities: $352
Health Insurance: $136
Donations to charity: $90
Insulin & other Rx: $89
Doctor copays: $58
Car insurance & gas: $57
Re-Skilling Classes: $25
So, I went $117 over my intended amount to live on per month. Hmmm. Not too bad for a first month. I wonder how I could shave off $117 from this lean budget. I could stop donating to charity and skip that one restaurant meal and one used book. Or I could get rid of my car and only eat the food I get for free. Or I could go live in a tent in the woods and have $235 extra every month to get pedicures!
I should also account for what I received in gifts and blessings this month without money: all the seeds I need for my garden this year; hundreds of pounds of food; fresh flowers; a candle; several shirts and sweaters; a few lunches; a great show of Cody Rivers (Idiom gives away 10 free tickets to each performance!); 2 excellent movies; 3 books from the library; a fabulous juggling show; my 2010 day planner; a great day of snowshoeing; artmaking; smooches; dog snuggles; much friendship and love; hikes in the woods; wildcrafting and Permaculture and Ethnobotany workshops; potlucks; compost made for me by microbes and worms; bike rides and walks; sunshine; rain; a Five Rhythms Dance class; owl medicine and falcon medicine and devil's club medicine. I am so wealthy.
And because I believe in the "triple bottom line," not just the financial bottom line, I should also look at the accounting of Happiness & Community and the accounting of Earth Impact for this month.
My Happiness: higher than usual
My Physical Health: pretty darn good
My Satisfaction and sense of Self-Worth: Highest Ever
My Relationships: Improved
My Pace: Slower
Stress level: Way lower
Fear & Loathing: Decreased to almost none
Earth Impact: less-- still too much, but less
Here is my favorite set of numbers:
Hours worked this month (money-earning work): 41
Hours volunteering for the community this month: 61
Hours spent with family & friends: 159
Average hours of sleep per night: 9.5
I love my life.