“While modern capitalism constantly develops new needs in order to increase consumption, people’s dissatisfaction remains the same as ever. Their lives no longer have any meaning beyond a rush to consume, and this consumption is used to justify the increasingly radical frustration of any creative activity or genuine human initiative — to the point that people no longer even see this lack of meaning as important.” - Pierre Canjuers, Socialisme ou Barbarie #27

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The Cost of Living: February 2016


One month has now passed.  I am halfway through my notice period for my job.  So far, I have made no attempt to find another job.  "Have you found another job?" is the question I've been asked the most when people find out I'm leaving this one.  My answer is often met with surprise.  Some people don't say anything, they just look at me.  I quite like that.  Some ask what I'm going to be doing next.  I don't always feel like talking about it, so I say that I don't know, which is of course true.  Sometimes I lie.  I have some idea what I want to do, but it remains vague.

Numbers are not vague, and numbers don't lie.  So as I said I was going to do, I've been keeping track of all my expenses day through the month on a spreadsheet.  I fucking love spreadsheets.  Really I do.  Here are the results:



OUTGOINGS
Rent: £650.00
Mobile and phone/broadband: £91.09
Prescription: £16.40
Food: £29.75
Other: £190.95
Total outgoings = £978.19

INCOME
Income from work: £1515.88
Other: £433.43
Total income = £1949.31

FEBRUARY BALANCE = £971.12

So that means I'm in the black this month.  I'm making a profit, which is of course the very meaning of life.  But I'm still working, which is the one thing I don't want to be doing.  "Other" income, above, refers to things I've sold on amazon and ebay.  If I hadn't been working, I would have made only £433.43, which is £544.76 less what it cost to exist this month.  This means that if I want to live without working at all, my current way of life is not sustainable.  I knew that already, obviously, but putting a number on it helps put that fact in perspective.

"Other" outgoings include one-off payments for non-essential things, luxuries, and unforeseen costs.  £190.95 seems like too much.  £52.97 of this is for postage costs from books I've sold on amazon, however.  Since spending that contributed towards the £433.43 I made from selling things I can think of that as an overhead, and therefore not really a luxury as such.  If I take this off the £190.95, that leaves £137.98 spent on non-essentials.  That still seems like a lot.  They include dinner out with friends, the occasional drink, and various subscriptions.  Most of those subscriptions were, believe it or not, for things from amazon, largely edible.  I'd started subscribing to seaweed snacks, and to walnuts.  Healthy and delicious but not really essential, and probably better sourced elsewhere.  I still have a kilogram of walnuts in the freezer. I've eaten all the seaweed.  The subscriptions have now been cancelled.  On this basis, I think I can set £68 as my allowance for non-essentials next month - i.e. approximately half what I spent this month.  We'll see how that goes.

Rent, phone/internet bills and prescription costs are the three things I definitely can't avoid.  Without my medication, breathing becomes harder (I have asthma) and so does having a functional brain (I have OCD).  I think that breathing and thinking are both important things in life.  So is internet access, and I still need to get around finding a cheaper deal for my home broadband.  I pay for a free phone calls and "unlimited" broadband deal, that I'm sure I don't really need.  I certainly never use my landline.  Who does?

Two weeks of actual work remain.  My notice runs out on the 27th of March, but with annual leave left to use before then, I don't think I'm going to have to go in to work at all after the 13th.  That's when the real "work" begins.