There's likely to be a financial theme this week because I've become obsessed with the concept of 'extreme early retirement'. (I can't remember how I stumbled upon it because although I'm pretending to be writing this entry today, it's actually a week later. Oh, and when I said there's 'likely' to be a financial theme, I know there definitely is, because, like I said, the week is over.)
What is extreme early retirement? You slash your spending, raise your income if you can, and invest heavily. Thanks to the magic of compound interest, in 10 or 15 years you should have enough to 'retire' on.
Today I was happy to score a point on the 'increase your income' side of the equation. I met a prospective new private student and after an hour of my charm and modesty he was very motivated to learn English and give me his money. If I can meet ten more guys like him I'll be as out of work as Edward Snowden.
Today was haircut day. I know that a lot of the Extreme Retirement community save money by cutting their own hair. As part of my early retirement plan, all expenditure must be questioned.
As I explained to my hairdresser, who has chosen the pseudonym 'Crazy Ice-Water-Swim Girl', it takes me quite a long time to get to her flat and she's slightly more expensive than the Turkish guys who cut hair in my local train station.
"But I give you a free magazine and a cup of tea," she said. "And a bickie."
True! She's also extremely tiny, so paying for the haircut feels quite like a charity donation.
Cutting my own hair isn't really an option - here's what happened last time I tried:
Today I learned that my blog is huge in Slovenia. I got this message from a fan: "Your happiness project is the only thing keeping the country together after the Janša Scandal. The willowy, ethereal women of Slovenia thank you."
Here's a picture of a Slovenian woman clothed in money. What are the odds of this happening to me in my lifetime?
I've calculated those odds - they're 3 to 1.
Today Jen went to the bakery as normal, but came back with a couple of rolls which she made into sandwiches. "It was only 2 francs," she said.
"What do the ready-made ones cost?"
"10 or 11."
Instead of falling back asleep, I did some maths. Making our own sandwiches four times a week would save two thousand francs a year. 2,000!
Proud of her frugality, I invented a competition called 'Best at Savings'. The rules aren't clear and the prize uncertain, but I went ahead and stuck it on the fridge.
(Photo shows the state of play a few days into the future, about Day 58, or as you know it, 'the past').
While my head was fizzing with savings schemes and scams, Jen was out buying the most expensive riding helmet in the world. Why so expensive? Because she has a head so tiny the helmets have to be made by a specialist. (The sad part is, I'm not even joking.)
|Jen's new riding helmet - safety first, everyone. Safety first.|
She insists it shouldn't count against her in the game because it's necessary for her job. A dubious claim, but I've come to realise that lots of the fun of 'Best at Savings' comes from bickering about which items can be included and which can't.
Example: Today a former student gave me a container of high-grade saffron worth 20 francs. She bought it for me a year ago but we hadn't been able to arrange a time to meet and then we'd both forgotten it. I bumped into her near her flat, took the saffron home and awarded myself 20 francs. Jen argued that a) I wouldn't have bought it if it wasn't free and b) I don't know what saffron is, so it shouldn't count in the game. A totally fallacious argument, I'm sure you'll agree.
But she lost the fight about my new financial innovation. Given that I recently bought 2 books for 35 francs, I thought that was an area of spending I could cut back on. I had a brainwave and joined the local library. Six rows of English books! Every time I take one out I'm going to credit myself 17 francs. Here's the reeeeaaaalllly clever bit - I'll get books for Jen to read too!
MY VICTORY IS INEVITABLE
More reading-based savings!
Imagine the following scenario. You are male and have money to buy things. Someone describes the following graphic novel to you. How much would you pay to read it?
"What if baby Superman had crashed on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain and grew up to become Stalin's right-hand man? And what if insane genius Lex Luthor was employed by the US government to develop their own countermeasure against the Man of Steel, turning the Cold War hot?!"
Communist Superman? How much would you pay? A billion dollars? Me too!
Fortunately such a comic exists - it's called Superman: Red Son, and my friend Kevin lent it to me. For zero roubles!
(In case you're wondering, Jen didn't allow me to claim a billion dollars - or anything - in the Best at Savings game.)
Jen's mother - who I always said is a very angel - bought us a top-of-the-line blender, just like the one I mentioned on Day 40.
The last section of an almost endless wall of text on a blog she doesn't read seems the most appropriate place to say thank you.
Progress after 56 days:
Mood: Really enjoying trying to find creative ways to save money.
Compliments: "You should get out more." "You whinged a lot less than I expected." "You made it wet."