Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Experiment Results and Oktoberfest

So October is over, and so is my monthlong experiment in frugality.

What were the results of the experiment?  Well, here's my best shot at summarizing them.

Despite having 6 hours less of classes and one week with 8 hours of cancellations from private classes on top of that (all cancelled within the required time period and therefore unpaid), I was able to get through the month without having to withdraw money from my bank account or use a credit card.  This month reinforced the notion to me that it's so easy to spend money more easily when you have a larger income, but in those months when you have less income it's very easy to want to kick yourself for eating out so much or spending money the way you did when you had more of it.  I realize that this doesn't happen just to me, but to almost anyone in that situation.

I also found that it's not really that difficult to watch my spending.  I did two main things to help spend less money.  The first was that I only carried around the amount of cash I knew I would need (I never carried around credit cards here anyway), and I exercised self discipline in asking myself if I really needed what I wanted to buy or if it was an impulse buy that wasn't necessary.  Most of the time it was an impulse buy, and with a little forethought and planning I could avoid the situation.  Most days I pack my lunch and snacks throughout the day, and it simply required the planning to prepare everything the day before.

Walking when I would normally take the bus also helped this month.  I walked to most of my morning classes, and a few days when the weather was nice I walked home.  The walk each way was usually about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes, and it was a nice way to give myself time to think and clear my mind.  I also found that the exercise got my blood flowing and I felt more relaxed by the time I got to my classes or home.

With that being said, I didn't deprive myself of all spending during the month.  I ordered pizza twice during the month.  I realized how expensive it was and recognized it as a luxury, but I also knew that I worked hard during the week and wasn't in the mood to cook.  When one of my afternoon classes cancelled when I was on the way there I had about an hour and a half to kill before my next class, and so I went to the metro escuela militar which has some shops and places to eat.  Earlier in the day I decided I was going to get a sandwich at Subway for dinner, so I decided to go to the Subway there to pass the time.

Then on the weekend I went with some friends to Oktoberfest.  No, it wasn't the real one in Munich, but it was the closest thing you can find here in Chile.  It was in a town called Malloco half an hour (in theory) outside of Santiago, but becuase of it being a Saturday and the first day it took us over two hours to get there.

Once we got there, it was worth it.  It was about 80 degrees, clear and sunny.  There were a lot of people, but the area was huge.  We spent some time waiting in lines, but we passed the time catching up or talking to the people in line with us.  I got to eat sausages (although they weren't German bratwursts), churros, and tried a few different types of beers.  A lot of stands sold glass Biersteins that you could get refilled, so I got one and then was able to keep it as a souvenir. 

By the end of the day I had spent about 15.000 pesos at Oktoberfest, which is about $30.  In the grand scheme of things it really wasn't that much money, and it was a fun experience. 

So what is my conclusion of the experiment in frugality?

1. It takes a bit of self discipline and planning.
2.It makes you decide how you really are willing to spend your money.
3. It makes you walk the fine line of being frugal but at the same time not depriving yourself of things.
4. I also had to think what was the purpose of saving this money and if I really wanted to or not.
5. It's very easy to accumulate things that really don't have much value, and I'd much rather spend my money on experiences like traveling or one time events like Oktoberfest.

This month I'm looking forward to my students returning from vacation, more warm and sunny weather, and possibly taking a weekend to go relax on the beach.

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