I’d like to report that at 24 days in, Low Spend August has been a success thus far! I had alloted myself $100/week for ALL expenses (besides rent) – gas, water, electricity, groceries, household goods, and entertainment (ha!) – and so far, my highest weekly spend has been $76.00, and the lowest has been $34.00. I’ve even managed to buy a baby shower gift, bake a cake for a party I was invited to, and buy and send a couple of congratulations cards for friends who have recently become new parents (all of my friends are having babies these days. It’s like baby season around here) and stay well within my budget, with room to spare.
So how did I manage to achieve this when I’ve been Captain Spendypants for most of my adult life? Although I’ve been working random side gigs for years – promotions (I’ve been a Bud Girl, snack pack hander-outer, one of the people who rides around in the Starbucks van and blitzkriegs summer events with trays of little mochaccinos, etc) random day worker shifts at city festivals, and focus group attendee for ages, but none of those completely random gigs has made me frugal. Until now. Enter: FD, the Bike Messenger.
I came across an ad on a telephone pole (the source for all life-changing careers, of course) for a bike messenger while I was – wait for it – out on my bike. I love cycling almost more than anything else in the world (next to traveling, and cheese – not exactly in that order). I decided to call in, and was told after 15 rides I would make a 100 dollar bonus. Well, if something was going to entice me to sign up, this was it. Fast forward 3 weeks to the day, and I have made 44 deliveries thus far, and I can’t wait for more.
So besides making more coin on the side, why has this caused me to have the most frugal month I’ve ever had so far? A small factor is that there simply isn’t enough time. I hop on my bike almost every day after work and log in a 4 hour shift each Saturday and 5 hour shift each Sunday. On weekdays I start at about 6pm when I get home, and roll in around 9:30pm when I remember I have a home and chores and partner I should likely attend to. This didn’t stop me from shopping in the past; online shopping has far-reaching tentacles that grasp even the busiest of us. So what’s changed? The fact of the matter is, I have to work like a dog to get money with this gig. For less than minimum wage, I take heavy parcels from one end of the city to the other. Sometimes it’s a set of tools, other times it’s a food order including 4 hot bowls of Vietnamese pho I have to balance in my backpack as I peddle uphill for a measly $7.00. It’s hard work, and God help me if I’m going to spend the money I literally had to sweat for (and sometimes cry for – stuffing a messenger bag with two cans of paint going uphill during a downpour and having your bike chain fall will make the toughest of us frustrated-cry even a little!) I am now pinching those hard-earned pennies so tightly my figurative knuckles are turning blue.
My SO has asked why I don’t just find another part-time gig where I get paid a little better and it doesn’t require so much physical work. Call me a masochist, but I like that this gig can be hard. Besides being able to schedule in shifts whenever I want and go on the clock whenever I want, I enjoy pushing myself to new physical limits each day. I’ve become very sedentary in my soul-sucking 9-5 job and I absolutely despise the gym (which I can’t go to anyways because no way I’m paying for a gym membership) so I feel amazing now that I’m getting daily exercise. I feel satisfied when I accept one more call after I thought I reached my limit, and it turns out it was the best ride of the night. I like that I now look at that $2 coffee and think, no way, that’s one third of that last ride I did that required me to go uphill for 10 minutes with 20 pounds worth of files in my crate for only $6.00. That money stays with me. And I like that.
So that’s what’s been keeping me frugal, while also keeping me healthy, clear-minded, and challenged.
Until next time, you can find me out on my bike.