The MBAWYAO Series – Episode Four

Hello and welcome to my MBAWYAO Series – Episode Four. (I’m quite impressed by the fact that I’ve stuck to this series for more than two episodes.)

A while ago I wrote about my ideal jobI’ve only “manifested”* two things so far and look, one has already happened! Well done universe – I mean, ME – for not giving up and finally being hired at the place you’d been pestering for months.
To celebrate my newly employment, I thought I’d do a little “expectations vs reality” comparison and see if this is actually the job of my dreams. This is a list of what my requirements were before I had a job, and whether my current job meets them or not.

  • No set location
    I work in a supermarket, so the location is: the supermarket. I can’t work from home unfortunately – those shelves are not going to restock themselves, are they – but since I’m only working part time this doesn’t really bother me since I can still go to the library or to a cafe’ and get the rest of my work (aka writing my book and this) done wherever I prefer.
  • Human interaction
    My job provides the exact amount of human interaction I need. My colleagues are incredibly nice and it’s great to have a chat with them from now and then, but it’s also ok to spend our lunch break reading or napping if we don’t feel like talking. And since it’s an organic shop, the clientele is also selected which basically means our customers are decent human beings who don’t treat you like a piece of trash. 
  • Stable income
    I am a casual worker for the time being, which means my income varies every week. However I’m never working less than three days a week, so I know what I’m going to get at least. Also payday is fixed which is also nice (it wasn’t in my previous job and it was crap.) 
  • No dress code
    We do have a t-shirt and an apron we are required to wear, but we can wear whatever bottoms we want as well as jewellery, as long as it doesn’t bother us/get in the way. Also we are allowed makeup, piercings and tattoos. I really don’t mind the t-shirt as I would wear a t-shirt anyway (I’d be more concerned if I had to wear office clothes, bleurgh). Also if it’s chilly we can wear a jumper on top and it’s all good so I can pretty much wear whatever the heck I want.
  • Flexibility
    Being a casual means I can pick and choose my shifts, which does make it very flexible. It’s kinda frown upon to take a shift and then change your mind, but I’m generally given enough time to plan around them so I’m happy with the situation.
  • Creativity
    You’d be surprised to know how much creativity my position requires. This is not your regular franchise: it’s an independent family business, which means there are no crazy rules such as the tile pattern has to be the exact same in every shop all around the world (I’m looking at you, Subway). Everyone is given room for their own initiative and ideas. Although we do have to stick to some general guidelines, we are also free to express ourselves however we see fit.

Overall, I am extremely happy with my job. It also have the extra bonus of providing me and my colleagues with free food and a 20% discount which let’s be real is fucking amazeballs.
Conclusion: work hard for what you want, and you’ll get there eventually.

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*Remember I’m not using the word “Manifest” in its strict meaning (“the ability to convert the energy of our thoughts into a newly materialized form”). I’m using it as a way to find out what I want out of life.
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Money tracking – February

Money-wise, February has been shit. I spent way more than I was expecting in spite of my best efforts, which demonstrates that I’m REALLY BAD at money tracking.
Before I draw my conclusions, let’s analyse this catastrophe in more details.

  • Groceries
    This baffles me: somehow I managed to spend more in groceries than I have in January. How is this possible? I get free food from work! I’m thinking I fell into the 20% discount trap I have at work and treated myself with a few goodies too many. I’ll need to keep an eye on this.
  • Coffee/eating out
    In February I funnelled nearly $160 in eating out, of which only $40 were coffee though. My aim was to spend less than $50 in coffee so that’s an achievement. And to be completely honest $120 for eating out in a month in Wellington is not that bad. However, this is the category that would be the easiest for me to improve on, so I’ll throw all the blame on Giac and say he’s the one forcing me to have dinner out once a week.
  • Op shops
    This is a hard one for me because I tend to justify op shopping thinking it’s second hand shopping and so it’s ok. But it’s not if you’re trying to save money. I spent $29 in op shops last month, which mainly consisted in an AMAZING coffee plunger which yes I’d been wanting for months but no I didn’t really need. *tut tut*
  • Other shopping
    And here comes the hot potato. “Other shopping” last month included: some stuff from Amazon and iHerb, two pairs of shoes, a new editing software, A MACBOOK AIR and a plane ticket to go back home in September. In my defence, these are not purchases I have to save up for every month (thank fuck), and yes my old shoes had holes, and yes I did say that I would get myself a new computer when I got a job. BUT. Fuck.
  • I have also added a new category called “Experiences” as it’s festival season in New Zealand and I have purchased a bunch of Fringe tickets. I also went to see the Rubens and to a session at CoLiberate which will be reviewed in a separate post (it was AWESOME).
  • Then here are the things that went as predicted (let’s cut this short as the more I write the more I have the urge to start breathing into a paper bag): I’ve spent the same as last month on transport and phone contract, and I haven’t spent anything on health and sport.

And now, conclusions!
Despite managing to spend zero dollars for a total of six days in the past month, I still spent – in scientific terms – a shitload of money.
Now, I have been working my ass off in February and I will even more in March, so it’s not that I can’t afford all this. Also I don’t want to punish myself too much: I finally got a job that pays well after two fucking years of basically not having a job at all, so there’s nothing wrong in treating myself a little. However, I am learning that shopping considerably raises my anxiety levels. After I bought the shoes the other day, I had a panic attack in the car and had to stop to hyperventilate on the side of the road. The truth is that I am on the stingy side after all, and spending money  – even on things I need – fills me with shame and guilt.
So after seeing the numbers in February and acknowledging how spending money makes me feel, In March I’m challenging myself to spend no money at all.
I am allowing myself some extra food that I might need in case what I get from work is not enough, as well as some home necessities (i.e. soap), but that’s it. Other things I think I “need” will have to wait. (Oh well and I’ll have to pay for my phone. And transport.)
It’s already day two and I’m doing great. Yesterday I worked all day and today I haven’t left the house. I guess if I keep it up (i.e. work like crazy and spend the rest of the time locked in my apartment) I should be fine.
Wish me luck, and you’ll hear from me soon.

The MBAWYAO Series – Episode Three

Hello and welcome back to my MBAWYAO Series! For those who are just tuning in, this is a series where I go through tings that are important to me and I MANIFEST them. However, I take the word “manifest” with a huge pinch of salt. In fact, I’m not using the word “manifest” in its strict meaning (“the ability to convert the energy of our thoughts into a newly materialized form”). I’m using it as a way to find out what I want out of life.
You can read episodes one and two here.

Today I want to focus on my ideal home.
This is something that’s always been very dear to me. I love decorating and making a space mine. When I was a kid, while all my girlfriends were planning their dream wedding, I was planning my dream house. And in this particular case, I mean literally planning: I would draw the actual blueprint of each room, measure the layout, decorate the walls with pictures and plants and imagine the colours of the walls and what kind of furniture would go where. As a teenager, I’ve moved my room around countless times (as far as the original configuration allowed me). Every time I am in someone else’s house, I always imagine what kind of makeover I would give it to bring the place more in line with my own taste.

I’ve lived in a lot of houses. Eleven, to be precise (twelve if we count the van). All these houses I’ve been renting (except the van), and if you are anything like me you’ll be familiar with the frustration of not being able to move things around the way you’d want to, or repaint the walls, get a nicer sofa, and just in general not being able to find a way around all those obligations that your contract entails.
Of course, none of the above applies once you get our own house. Back in London, buying a house was one of our main priorities. Unfortunately, unless you already own a country, good luck trying to approach the merciless world of real estate.

Since we move to New Zealand our priorities shifted, and recently we have preferred to invest our money in travelling and experiences rather than a mortgage. But the idea of building my own house, something I’ve always wanted to do, never really left my mind, and for a long time now I’ve been looking into tiny living. When I discovered the movement I thought that was exactly what I wanted: it’s affordable, sustainable, adaptable, and from all those YouTube videos it looks like anybody can do it. I’ve possibly watched every single tiny house video out there and I am proud to say that I now know everything from timber structures to energy-efficient fridges, from grey water systems to fibreglass insulation.
However, I’ve recently decided that a tiny house in its strict sense is probably not going to work for me (and for Giac and his 316519492 musical instruments). I have been downsizing for who knows how long, and I finally got to a point where I’m satisfied with my possessions. However, I don’t think I’d be able to fit all my belonging into a tiny house, and for the time being I’m not ready to downsize even more.

So the first requirement for my dream house is that is has to be slightly bigger than an average tiny house.
It also has to be:

  • Energy efficient – I’m not sure I’m ok with the idea of being 100% off grid (my main issue is the compostable toilet), but I definitely want the option to be there;
  • Self sufficient – I’m talking solar panels, wood burner, veggie garden etc;
  • Made of reclaimed materials – Ideally, I don’t want to buy anything new in the making of my house. I’d love it if everything came from op shops, friends and family, or the side of the road;
  • Cosy – Not tiny, but it has to have that homey feeling. I’m thinking lots of wood, lots of books, lots of blankets and cushions;
  • Big enough for me to have my own space – I currently have my own corner and I’m looking forward to having a whole room for myself where I can make art, pile up my books, hang my own posters, write and do my own shit;
  • Not cluttered – I don’t want any shit I don’t need in it, and I also want to love everything my house contains;
  • Easy to clean – As in, no stairs. I hate cleaning stairs.

I also have a colour scheme in mind: I really like white wooden cupboards with dark wood tops for the bathroom, lighter wood in the rest of the house, probably white tiles and wooden countertops in the kitchen. I also envision lots of plants (this entails that I also miraculously lear how to keep plants alive): I love the contrast between the forest green of hanging plants and the dark wood of the furniture.

My final request is to have a window above the sink. This is probably the only thing that has never changed in 30 years of me planning my dream house. I want to be able to do the dishes with a view.

I came to the conclusion that an Earthship would be my best bet. According to the guy who came up with the design, Earthships are actually the top solution in terms of sustainability – plus let’s be real, they are freaking stunning. (And mainly single-story.)
They are primarily built in the Southwest of the U.S., so I guess you’ll now where to find me.