Thursday, March 21, 2013

Money matters.

Just two more weeks left in Europe. The time passes quickly.

Learning from my past mistakes about booking late with this tour, I am already approaching organizers about my June tour in Europe. Most of my weekends are booked, huzzah! It's reassuring to know that I can at least book weekend workshops reliably. My next goal is to be booked for more full-on weekend events with multiple instructors (e.g. Sideways and EBI). One weekender per tour is enough, but I'd like to do more.

Ruby and I headed into London today. This trip marks the unfortunate conclusion of our adventuring together. After this point, Ruby will continue on to Bristol, Oxford, and green pastures elsewhere in Europe, while I will remain in London with Jenny. Potential still exists for a trek elsewhere next week, however, since it looks like our Easter weekend is not booked. Italy, perhaps?

I find it easier to spend money on good experiences when traveling. For example, yesterday afternoon and evening were spent on the town. We enjoyed gelato, cheese, deli meats, crêpes, and wine. All told, I probably spent 30 Euro in a day. Back home, I can't afford that kind of rampant spending. But on the road, I can more easily justify it as investing in an experience. When at home, I find myself surviving; on the road, I find myself living. (Having a slightly increased income and no rent helps, of course.)

It is a liberating experience to spend money on oneself, but you don't realize it until it's not possible for a while. When I moved to NYC, I suddenly wasn't earning enough money to pay for my rent, let alone food or any other luxuries such as social activities. I switched into survival mode, where I stopped spending money on what mattered to me: good food, the opportunity for social outings (usually in the form of drinks), and the occasional trip to the cinema or restaurant.

I'm a frugal spender, but my time in NYC has put even my spending habits through the wringer. Studies show that increased wealth increases one's happiness up to a certain point of wealth, after which it plateaus. I definitely felt my happiness go down as my income plunged. My plateau point is somewhere around $10-15K / yr. I'm pleased with mine being so low, because it means that I am summarily content even on the salary of a graduate student. Now that I possess a more intimate understanding of poverty, I can appreciate the crazy ways a lack of money can mess with your head. (In fairness: I realize that my situation has not reached true poverty -- where you have a limited income and no resources at your disposal. I have enjoyed the benefit of a safety net in the form of a savings account, plus family and friends that love me and would take care of me if push came to shove.)

When you don't do nice things for yourself and others, you stop treating yourself gently and lovingly. Activities such as a trip to a non-working dance event are foregone for lack of funds, but somewhere in the unconscious mind is a niggling thought: that you're not spending the money because you don't deserve it. It hits closer to home when suddenly you stop feeding yourself well. The depleted nutrional intake (both in terms of calories and diversity of nutrients) puts you into a distressed body state. You body feels uncared for and it's because you are deciding to not feed it. 

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