I recall someone telling me that their notion of simplicity is being able to have enough cash to spend on things they want without having to worry about the cost.
That was 11 years ago for me and, somehow, it stuck. For several years, it contributed as one of my motivations when it comes to earning my keep. I interpreted that piece of advice as earning as much money as possible to be able to buy whatever thing that catches my fancy (which ties into my previous post in this series, Material(istic) girl), or at least, reach a comfortable stage in which I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself and my loved ones of good things. Besides, I like giving things away, so having that kind of privilege wasn’t something I took for granted.
Want less, spend less.
I’m just your typical desk worker, with the typical equivalent salary (albeit with foreign language perks). For the past 10 years of working under steady payrolls, not only I have been able to buy and pay for a good number of things comfortably, but I was able to help out at home (as the eldest child of a Filipino family is wont to do).
In terms of money, however, I know I can do better in managing myself. There was a time when I lived from pay period to pay period, and consciously making the effort of controlling my spending is a challenge in itself.
However, once I come about controlling my material wants, I can control my spending. The philosophy to simple finances boils down to four words:
Want less, spend less.
Note that used the word “want”, and not “need”, and all needs are different. I’m not going to ask a diabetic to spend on cheaper white sugar over whatever sweetener keeps them healthy. I’m not going to ask a stage performer to replace the makeup they can rely on to protect their skin from harsh spotlights with lighter and cheaper alternatives. The key here is to go back to those things you deem the most important (which I covered in the first post of this series), and to focus your investment in them.
In my case, I put a primer on relationships, mental and physical health, and creativity. With the money I set aside from spending on more make-up and clothes (that I don’t currently need since I already have more than enough), I can use it for a nice day out with friends or family or buy them nice gifts, and give more in tithes. Instead of eating fast-food too often, I can use the money to buy ingredients and whip up my own healthy home-cooked meals that I can brown-bag to work. Instead of accumulating more “art materials” than I’ll know what to do with, I can make do with what I already have and work with those to put my creative muscles to work.
Creativity at work: Do-it-yourself.
Speaking of creativity, I have also come to engage more in DIY projects for hair, body and skin care. A quick visit to Michelle Phan’s website (and of course, a quick Google search) reveals a treasure trove of recipes that are beneficial to your hair, face, and body. I’ve already talked about how I came to replace my shampoo and conditioner with a baking soda wash and an apple cider vinegar rinse, but my more recent favorites are:
- coffee grounds and sugar body scrub
- olive oil and sugar facial scrub
- honey and sugar lip scrub
- honey and cinnamon acne-fighting facial mask
- honey and olive oil moisturizing facial mask
- different honey treatments for damaged hair
- olive oil make-up remover
Yes, honey, organic/raw sugar and olive oil can be pricey. Here, good organic honey can go up to Php 200.00 per 500ml, and extra virgin olive oil can demand up to Php 300.00 per liter. Organic sugar costs Php 60.00 per 500g, compared to Php 30.00 for the same amount of ordinary brown sugar. I don’t spend more for coffee grounds, but I recycle what my roomie and I have brewed during the day.
But how much do I spend for the things I listed above (all estimated prices are in Philippine Peso/Php)?
- Facial scrub (St. Yves): 200.00
- Hair mask/intensive conditioner (Watson’s): 300.00
- Facial mask, one use (Etude House, Tony Moly): 60.00
- Body scrub (any brand): 100.00 to 200.00
- Makeup remover: 250.00 to 450.00
- Commercial shampoo: 200.00
- Conditioner: 250.00
- Leave-on hair moisturizer (L’Oréal): 550.00
That can bring me from 2,000 to 3,000 in two months. Olive oil lasts me two months, honey lasts me one. A big bottle of Bragg’s organic apple cider vinegar (300.00) and a big box of baking soda (150.00) lasts me three months or more. What’s 1,050.00 compared to 3,000.00? I have enough money left for other treats, or essential oils (tea tree and peppermint are my favorites) to spruce up my recipes!
Like I said, I put a primer on my physical health as well. I won’t spend for cheaper products, specially if they make me itch. These kitchen-assembled beauty goodies have yielded better results than their factory-assembled counterparts — my hair is now healthier than ever and needs less washing, my skin is better moisturized without needing a plethora of products to put on my face (I just need to invest on water- and sweat-proof sunblock). And best of all, I can eat them 😀 !
In conclusion, I don’t have to want high-end products to get the job done on my wellbeing and in taking care of my relationships. I don’t even have to excessively spend on them. What I ultimately want lies within my priorities. What I have found are more fulfilling ways to spend my money, and with the DIY recipes, an outlet for creativity. I win in more ways than one, as my notion of simplicity is fulfilled — a notion not based on the amount of money I have, but in what I find most fulfilling.
As I’ve said, I only share what I have tried, and what is currently working for me. A usual complaint when it comes to DIY is the lack of time, and I’d like to discuss that in the upcoming posts. See you then!
Questions? Fire away!