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It’s too soon to know whether the Austerity Project will be a success. I’m defining “success” to mean reducing my spending to match my income.
The total damage for Austerity Project, Week No. 1, was $189.13. Issues from Week No. 1: I ate pizza three times. That number has to come down. My biggest single expenditure was a fill-up at the gas station, with regular at $2.76 a gallon, for a total of $33.68. After rent, health insurance, and food, gas for the car is my next highest monthly expense. Soon I’m going to need an oil change and some regular maintenance, which is not included in the monthly budget. And looming in February is the $700 annual payment for car insurance, which is also off-budget.
The first day of Week No. 2 was my first day with no expenditures. Not a penny. Tuesday was $16.23 for miscellaneous household goods at Walmart.
Today, I signed up with a health club, aka “gym,” with a commitment of $19.95 a month for the next year! I did not make this decision lightly. There is no health club line in my monthly budget. I don’t know where the $19.95 a month is coming from. But you have to admit it’s a good price for a health club membership.
With a fancy new health club opening, there’s something of a price war going on among health clubs in my area. I found the $19.95 price at a so-called “bare bones” club. It doesn’t have a sauna or whirlpool or spa. The locker room is small. No towel service. But the place is bright and airy, and they’ve got more equipment than I’ll ever use.
I’m thinking that at age 62, with creakiness in the bones and weakness in the muscles, the health club membership comes close to qualifying as an essential.
It’s not as if I’ve been inactive in the past year. For much of that time, I worked as a security guard, which was mostly walking, walking, walking around a large building and grounds. In other words, my job was to be a moving, human scarecrow. Since August, I’ve spent a lot of time on political campaigning, which also involved lots of walking. I got a sunburn, and then a tan, on my face, but I can’t say I feel any healthier for all the walking. The campaigning resulted in two disappointing losses, first my own in the primary, and then the candidate I volunteered for in the general election.
Now, with the security guard job and the campaign over, and winter coming on, I feel like I’m facing rapid deterioration if I don’t keep these old bones moving. The health club is less than $1 a day, and it will give me another place (in addition to the library) where I can go to get out of the rain and snow.
I’m starting the health club adventure at near rock bottom (I always feel rock bottom this time of year, with the shortening daylight and the sun low in the sky). Job one is to get myself to the health club almost every day. It will be interesting to see if the exercise makes a difference. Any improvement in health of mind and/or body will be well worth the $19.95.
Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted.
— John Hayden
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