Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2015 in Review

It has now been more than a year since I started the Stop Shopping Challenge, so I think this is a good time for a little review. Here are some highlights of the journey, more or less in chronological order:

Stop Shopping

1. The Challenge started on 1 December 2014. From that date on, I no longer spent any money on food, clothing and other stuff. The only money I spent was on rent (all inclusive). It did not even occur to me at the time that I could try to find a free home as well. I was hoping to save enough money to build an ecohome and thought that would be my only way to live (more or less) for free, eventually. But as the time went on and the initial challenge of not spending any money turned out to be so easy, I thought: Why not try it? So I gave it a shot. And sure enough, it worked out very well: I found a wonderful family from India who adopted me into their family.

100% bill-free

2. So from 1 October 2015, I had no more bills at all. Before moving into the new space (a bedroom of about 3 by 3m), I had to get rid of a lot of stuff, because I was living in a 70m2 two-bedroom-apartment and had gathered quite a lot of (free) stuff during the time that I had been living there (which was exactly one year: since October 2014). Having a lot of space and doing a moneyless challenge had put me at risk of hoarding, because you never know what you might need later on. However, with the move I needed to let go of that safety net. And that turned out to be a good thing and very liberating. It was another reminder of how material possessions are a form of baggage (and not just in the literal sense).

Some extra cash

3. Right before the move I gave away a lot of items and sold some as well (such as 4 bicycles, a flatscreen TV, and some other things that I had found for free). This gave me around 2000 NOK / 200 EUR / 230 USD in cash for emergencies in case I would need to use money after all. But of course my intention was not to use it at all.

Some unavoidable costs

4. So, did I manage to stick to that plan of not spending any money? Unfortunately, not entirely.
- One of my fillings broke (this actually happened twice), and so I tried to find a free dentist to get it fixed. But three different dentists (recommended to me by friends) told me it would be against the law for them to offer free treatment, mainly because of taxes. I think technically they would be able to agree not to take money, but they would still have to pay taxes for the treatment. So I paid for the treatments. It cost around 600x2=1200 NOK, but I was happy to pay for it. Dental health is very important to me.
- The second unavoidable cost was for my phone: At the end of last month I was reminded that, in order to keep my phone number, I needed to top up my phone credit at least once a year with at least 50 NOK. I was unable to dodge this cost without losing my number (and I am not ready for that just yet), so I topped up my credit with another 50 NOK. Perhaps with some more research this cost could have been avoided, although I am not sure if there are prepaid SIM cards out there that do not require this yearly top up. Either way, I now have a lot of phone credit, since I hardly used any of it in the past 12 months (I only sent a handful of text messages).
So in total I spent around 1250 NOK (130 EUR / 143 USD) on unavoidable costs.

Some things to remember in 2016

The dental costs were a great reminder of the importance of looking after my health. When I started the moneyless journey and was exposed to all the free food, I noticed that I ate much more of the healthy foods (fruits and vegetables) but also much more of the less healthy stuff (cakes and chocolate), because I would find all of it in large quantities on a regular basis. So, it is good to be reminded that these unhealthy foods do impact health in a negative way and that it is not a good idea to eat too much of it. This will be yet another advantage of going on a nomadic journey and off grid for a while in 2016 (living from foraged foods only) because processed foods are not available in nature. Only the good stuff is.

So, that was my year, mainly with regards to the challenge that started this blog. Let me know how your year has been in the comments! I would be interested to hear about the challenges you faced and the changes you made.

See you in 2016!

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