Skip the Toonie

old-tram2A few people in recent months asked me about my trip to Australia. It’s a big deal because as most of you know, Australia is very very very far away from Canada. I’ve always wanted to spend my birthday, usually one of the coldest days of the year in Canada, in a place where February means SUMMER. There were other places I could have gone but my heart was set on Australia. A land of friendly people, rich history, wonderful climate, beautiful scenery and of course, the beach.

When discussing Australia, What surprised me is that a lot of people want to go to Australia but admit they do not know how to go about saving for the trip. For 2 years, I saved for my trip to Melbourne by ignoring the endless ways we can spend little bits of money.

I skipped the Toonie.

Given the opportunity to spend $2 here, or $2 there, I chose to not spend the $2. I admit I was not perfect, but I will say, 70% of the time, I Skipped the Toonie. We have so much choice now that it’s easy to think  it’s only a Toonie.  You don’t have to make this your life’s work, but I found this worked for saving for a specific life event.

Then I had a completely unrelated conversation with someone about, of all things, laundry.

I do laundry once a week. One load, in cold water, colours and whites all mixed together. I know, living on the edge. The washers and dryers in my building each cost a Toonie. By skipping the dryer, I save $8 a month, times 12 months that’s $96. I do use the dryer about 5 times a year when I wash linen or new clothing that may need to be altered. So that’s about $86. People always say “but that’s only $86.” The money I saved did not go towards anything else, it went into my bank account, do not pass go, do not collect $200!  So my $86 x 2 years = $172CND which depending on the markets, is about $172AUS.

Well I can tell you, I found lots of ways to spend my $172AUS. Boat tour, bike rental, museum admission, a giant piece of chocolate cake on my birthday, donations to buskers, walking tour, gifts, books, trip to the beach, I could go on. And on. Great memories for $172AUS.

So my point is there are hundreds, if not thousands, of ways to skip the Toonie. It all adds up. All the way across the world.

Idleness Challenge

getbusyI gave myself a challenge for the first week of my experiment in idleness. I tried to do only one thing at a time.

No multitasking.

At work I was forced by the pace of the queue to multitask 6,7,8 hours a day, non-stop, every day. Some days, by 5pm, I would be so dead tired, I would wobble across the parking lot to my car, completely exhausted by the frenetic copy, paste, document, speak, sprint of my day. Some people love this, I loathe it.

Sadly, I am closet multitasker. I do find myself folding laundry while listening to a podcast or listening to music while washing the dishes. If I miss something, well, I can rewind, it’s no big deal. I do try to make a conscious effort to not engage in any sort of multitasking behavior around other people because it’s really rude.

So how did I do? Pretty darn good thank you very much!

I don’t really have a lot of deep, spiritual insight to provide about my challenge except that I enjoyed things much more. Even doing the dishes was enjoyable and I tried to think among the lemony suds why doing the dishes was better this week when a flash of insight hit me.  I did not feel rushed. Multitasking was a daily reminder of  the constant feeling of being rushed, being efficient and going onto the next task. I never savoured anything. Still there were times when I felt guilty for not being more productive and I had to close my eyes and take a few deep breaths to remind myself that it was okay to do one thing at a time.

On Thursday, a DVD I ordered a few weeks ago arrived in my mailbox. I was really looking forward to watching the movie so I made sure I had no distractions. I washed and put away the dishes, turned off my computer and put aside my book and focused on the movie.

thrive-logo2The movie,  Thrive With Less is about a group of university students in Michigan who decided to take on six challenges to cut out the excess in their lives, in an attempt to discover a more essential way of living. Like any sort of lifestyle experiment there are a lot of ups and downs.  It’s refreshing to see young people challenging themselves because frankly, young people are negatively portrayed in the media these days.

Without even trying, it turned out my challenge was not all that different than the six challenges outlined in the movie. Can we be better, or at least thrive with less?