The Art of Frugality

June 20, 2016

My relationship with money is one wrought with complications. There have been times when I’ve had plenty. There have been times when I’ve had close to nothing. Happiness, amid those two points, hasn’t fluctuated accordingly. That’s always been on a path of its own.

But why stop and think about money? Isn’t it better just to simply avoid it, put in the back of our minds and carry on our lives just as we’ve been doing so all along? Any talk of finances, investments etc., and most of us are inkling for an exit. I used to be the same.

When I was younger I remember having the most terrible track record with money imaginable. I’d get a little bit and it would be all gone within 24-hours. What I spent it on I can’t rightly recall. But I do remember being famously into magazines, football stickers, video games, sports equipment and whatever other fad was popular back in the day. The concept of discipline and delayed gratification? So far off my radar it was as if I was living on a different planet altogether. Read More

Earlier this year I set out with the intention to keep a detailed media consumption record to track everything I gave my attention to in terms of music, films, podcasts, books and TV. Suffice to say, I fell off the bandwagon pretty fast in terms of keeping that list consistent and up-to-date. The days began to roll into themselves, one thing would lead to another and I’d end up eventually forgetting to record exactly what it is was that had fallen onto my radar.

One thing I discovered, after first starting that project back in January, is that it, at least first, it actually compelled me to go out of my way to actively consume more media. It made me hungry. And I wanted to see that list look prettier by throwing in at least one new entry per day.

Obviously that wasn’t sustainable, despite my best efforts.

But the experiment (which I am continuing by the way, although haphazardly) definitely taught me a few things. The first, that certain types of media are much more easier to consume than others. The second, that the sheer dichotomy of choice, at least in my case, indeed leads to that which the paradox of choice postulates.

Feelings of anxiety and distraction, plus the difficultly to remain attentive? That definitely comes with the on-going onslaught of newness in our life. Media, for its part, espouses that. We’ll never have enough time to watch, listen and read everything. Even if our friends or mentors implore us that we must. Read More

It’s fantastic in this day and age how we are totally in control of our education.  

No longer are financial or social barriers of the past applicable. Or, such is the case that they are, they’re becoming increasingly less so. 

Granted you can discipline yourself enough to put in the work, you can maintain realistic expectations and you can keep yourself mentally in-check, you really can learn or create anything.   Read More

Not all of us, despite seeming so, have it all figured out. Some of us find meaning and enjoyment in something, we plug away at it for years, and then suddenly, in what appears to be a sudden over-night sensation, we’re just not into it that much anymore.

Others don’t really have much of anything to start with. Perhaps they just got out of of full time education. Quit a job they never intend to go back to. Got fired.

Whether the transition is our choosing or something that’s been forced upon us, the next juncture we arrive at is almost always the same.

We have two choices. The first, to lounge around worryingly in inactivity. Or the second, to get back into something, anything.

Having been in that first place, having been in love with certain projects and certain jobs and then suddenly fallen out of love with them, I can at least understand.

Penelope Trunk, writer and entrepreneur, also recognises this plight. When she advocates that “if you are lost, and lonely, and wondering how you’ll ever find your way in this world. Take a job. Any job”, she’s really urging you to avoid option one at all costs. She knows that pain. And has learned how to avoid it.

Whatever you do then, don’t just lounge around and start worrying. Get out and make things happen.

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One of my favourite ways to spend time is to read and watch things. Unusual right?

Not so unusual in the grand scheme of things, given the power that culture and information has on us. Heck, a lot of it is even purposely designed now to catch and hold our attention like never before. You only need to look at the growing job demand for attention engineers and growth hackers to see just how valuable capturing our time and attention is.

The problem, in my case, is that it’s never been that difficult to get me. I’ve always been addicted to information. And could happily spend entire days just trawling through questions and answers in places like Quora and YouTube.

My addiction is so grave that it’s lead me to track my media consumption. Lead me to quit Facebook and Twitter. Lead me to shut out the world for days at a time. Read More