The Cost of Living: March 2016

March was expensive.  Ironically this was because of the money I had to spend to get myself into the Highlands, properly equipped for some time in the wild hills, for the peace and quiet, and so as to think about the future, and the possibility of a life without money and things.  Life is strange.

This may not be a very interesting read, but I'll be posting these monthly "cost of living" breakdowns for two reasons:

1.  To be explored more in an upcoming post, I think money should be demystified.  Let's all be honest and open with each other about how much money we have, how we got it, what we spend it on, and why.

2.  It helps me think.  Each month I can reflect on how I spent my money, what I did to acquire it, and repeatedly ask myself the question, was it worth it?  Time is more valuable than money: was the time given over in exchange for the money a worthwhile exchange?  Would it have been better not to work at all, and stay indoors?  These are questions that need to be asked if I'm to hope of finding a future without the need for money at all.  These are still the early days.

For the benefit of any loyal, but bored readers who might exist, I'll try to throw in the odd hilarious quip.

The cost of my Highlands trip straddles March and April so needs to be looked at separately.  Since the whole thing was kind of an experiment, or toe-dipping exercise, into other ways I might live, for now I'll class it as a luxury.  Apart from travel costs, most of things I bought were 'one off' essentials, which now I own, hopefully won't have to be replaced for years.  I'll have more to say on the possibility of moving to the Highlands forever in other upcoming posts.  There's lots to be written, and most of it not here.  I've started writing a book, you see.  You'll have to wait.

Here is a breakdown of the cost of the the 12-day trip:

Return flight to Inverness: £189.23
Bus Inverness to Ullapool: £10 each way
Bus Lochniver to Ullapool: £5 one way
Night at Admair Point with electric and water, even though I only used the water: £20
Five nights at Clachtoll Beach Campsite with electricity and water: £75
Tent, sleeping bag, waterproof jacket and miscellaneous camping items: £121.40
Two nights in Lochinver bunkhouse: £44.00
Three nights in Polcraig bed and breakfast: £135
Total cost of trip: £609.40

Not exactly shoestring, I know.  But it had to be done.  The idea was to go without too much preparation, and while this was exhilarating in a reasonable sort of way, it did cost me.  Now that I'm not earning money full time, £600 is a good chunk of my savings.  Before it that is was about a week and a half's wages.  But if it's a toss up between money and experience, give me experience.  Having seen the scenery, and sussed out suitability of the landscape for all weather wild camping, I think next time I'll hike from Ullapool to Lochinver and back, camping wild throughout, or perhaps refreshing myself one night in the Bunkhouse in Lochniver (which incidentally I can highly recommend if you're in the area: £22 a night gets you a very comfortable bed, and the use of a shower and shared use of a fully-functional kitchen/lounge area as good as you'd get in most self-catering places or B&B's.  As long as you don't mind the possibility of sharing your room with others at short notice, it's no different).  This would be about a 73-mile hike, as the road goes - less as the crow flies or the hiker hikes, but through some spectacularly beautiful landscapes and with plenty of clean water to drink and spots to pitch your tent out of sight quickly.  Follow the road more or less and in the daytime there's a good you can thumb a lift within an hour of waiting if you've had enough, or if you're dying or something.  Flight to Inverness included, I could do this for around £300 next time, and probably live that way for several weeks.  You'd be surprised how long you can last on just porridge, peanuts and chocolate.

I digress.  As I said, some of the camping costs will go on this month's sheet, some on the sheet for March, but taking that into account, this is what March cost:

Rent: £650
Mobile phone/broadband: £103.34
Prescription: £16.40
Food:  £55.74
Other: £579.97
Total outgoings: £1407.45

Income from work: £2335.22
Other: £245.81
Total income: £2581.03


Most of the £579.97 'other' outgoings come under the cost of the Highlands trip.  In fact, I only spent £63.43 on what could be called 'luxuries' in this regard.  This is within the budget I set for myself last month of £68, so I suppose that's a good thing.  Target met.

Like a fool, I stopped earning money on April 1st.  So far this month, my only income has been approximately £80 from books sold on amazon.  Having done a little top-dipping into flipping, I speculatively bought a few books with a view to selling them off at a profit, when student season comes.  We'll see how that goes.  The stock market remains flat.  What investments I have are worth less than what I bought them for.  This month is where things actually start to get hard.  This is the idea.

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