Living on Less: DAY 1

My Living on Less challenge started today.

Since I woke up late and still craving for sleep, I wasn’t able to prepare my assigned breakfast. Good thing that I don’t eat much for breakfast. Coffee and a slice of bread with peanut butter or a slice of cheese (or both, my favorite!) is usually enough to start-up my appetite and wake up my senses.

When I got to work and I had plenty of free time, that’s when I started working on the 3-day budget. I figured that planning ahead would save me the time and energy for the next three days. Based on past dieting experience, my mood worsens on the third day, so better to plan while my head and mood are still intact.

With a limited budget of 46PHP (Philippine Peso) a day (that’s dollar for you), my options were limited. Very limited. There’s probably a lot of options for budget breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but my average budget for a meal is 15PHP which isn’t even enough for transportation. I initially wanted to include transportation in the budget, but given my daily load of work, I could easily snap in hunger. I work with children, so patience definitely should be a virtue. So despite my willingness to sacrifice, I can’t really sacrifice my work that easily, especially children are also on the line (my weak spot).

Anyway, here’s a sample of the budget I made for today:

BREAKFAST

  • 2 pcs of local bread (4.00)
  • Kopiko 3-in-1 coffee (6.00)
  • 1 banana (5.00)

LUNCH

  • Lucky Me instant pansit canton (7.00) (9.00)
  • Fita crackers (7.00) Family Mart
  • 1 pc. banana (5.00)

DINNER

  • Payless instant Mami (6.25)
  • small boiled egg (5.00)

————————————————————–

47.25 PHP (over 1.25 php)

When I made the first draft for this budget, I had to take out one item from my breakfast because the total was 49.00 PHP. That surely made my jaw drop. I mean, I’m not a heavy breakfast eater, but I wanted to prepare for the small meals of the day, but yeah, 46 PHP is just too limiting.

Moreover, I had to redo my entire 3-day budget which I finished in the morning because I found out the instant noodles I ate for lunch was 2 PHP higher than the price I indicated. Even when I checked the local groceries later on, that brand’s cheapest now is probably around 8 PHP.Good thing I found a cheaper instant noodles which is only 6.25 PHP, so I decided to replace all the Lucky Me in my budget plan with this, and I though the soup could also help me feel fuller since it’s liquid.

I fortunately also chanced upon a small store that sells Fita biscuits (9 pcs/pack) for 6 PHP instead of 7 PHP which is the price in Family Mart. Actually, 7-11 sells it for 8 PHP, so I’ve found a gem of a stone in my neighborhood! There are small bakeries around my house which sells large-sized sweet bread for 5 PHP only, so that’s of course included in my plan.

I considered including half an order of rice that can be bought from small eateries, but that’s about 6/7 PHP. Also, as I normally eat more rice than a dish, eating a small amount of rice would just awaken my cravings, so better to stay away from it.

While going home from my mini-grocery for the next two days of the challenge, the majestic smell of crispy brown, deep fried chicken being sold on an intersection of our street was alluring. If this was a normal day, I would’ve asked my mom to cook me fried chicken the next day, or I could’ve pulled out my wallet to munch on one. But I was a poor worker today, right? I could only be invited and tortured by my favorite food in the world, but I cannot possess it.

I swear, I had the bitterest smile while walking away from that stall.

Then I realized something.

It’s only day one, but this challenge is already providing me with so much of what I need to learn about reality.

I did a diet early this year which also lasted for three days. There’s a program and I just had to follow it. The food in quantity was much smaller than what I usually consumed. It’s a diet program, but I didn’t do it to lose weight. It was more of the challenge to prove to myself that I am in control of my mind and my urges. If I lose weight, then that’s a big bonus.

The diet was a bit difficult the second and third day and I could’ve quit midway. I don’t think anybody was expecting me to finish it, given my renowned appetite, but I finished it anyway. Part of that motivation was that I wanted to prove them wrong, though I didn’t have to.

In this Living On Less challenge, the people whom I’m trying to understand with their struggle on food have no choice whatsoever. EVERY DAY IS A CHALLENGEIf you’re a person trying to live with this very limited budget until payday, everyday in your life, there’s no “I quit this challenge” button. You will walk away from that fried chicken every time, defeated.

If you go over-budget, you have to get some from your money the next day or borrow from others. And of course borrowed money is still not your money. You still have to give it back, then you’re still left with nothing in the end.

It was a depressing realization. It is depressing. To think that there are people everyday living in this condition, it is a cruel life.

On the other hand, with the right mindset, attitude towards one’s given condition, and wise shopping, this budget is manageable and bearable. Though with the “luxury” I’ve apparently been blessed with in my entire middle-class status, I just wish our poor brothers and sisters can have a chance at them too. :\

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Life Advice

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life (memoir)

At the age of 27, I’m not very sure if I have lived enough to be giving life advices to a younger colleague. Nonetheless, I treasure the good and the bad experiences I have lived through the past years. Through the days of idleness, the depression, the silent tears, the struggles, the laughter, the realizations, the challenges; all these made me who I am now. I am not a a very good person, but I am much better than who I was before because of my past.

I’m sure my junior would not fully understanding my words unless she experience these herself, when she’s in her turning point and she’s doesn’t even have an idea why the universe seems to be conspiring against her at that very moment, but I hope she somehow remembers my advice that this is what makes life. No matter how long the frustration is, the landscape of our lives will change. The pain and challenge would be all worth it.

dirty shoes

Sometimes the dirtier, riskier road is the better one to take.

It’s the thought that plagued my mind today after an urge to walk my favorite green, muddy path to school made me get off the jeepney on impulse.

It’s been a while, actually.

On most weekdays, I am taken to school by my grandfather since he drops my aunt to work ever since the world began. With my aunt now working very close to our school, I have had the privellage of a “school service” years after graduating primary school. How ironic. Well, the convenience of a service has been great, of course, but I somehow feel like I’ve missed on a lot of things.

While walking to work (school) this morning (after alighting the jeep), I noticed an orange building standing tall from a distance. It’s actually just behind our school building, or I could be wrong. From my distance, my perception was askwed, so the building could have been beyond what I assume. Nonetheless, it was there. After six months of walking the same path almost everyday to work, it was the first time I’ve seen that building.

So I’m rambling about a discovered building from a distance which could be just my imagination (if I think about it from another angle), but the point I’m trying to drive at is simple, actually.

If I didn’t chose to get off that jeepney (since I paid to be dropped off a different place which was actually cleaner and safer) at that certain moment, I would never have that eureka moment. My day would have been the same, and I probably won’t bother to post this. What’s special about my days, anyways? However, this single, humble discovery brought me so much more than a mere visual. Maybe I’m just romantesizing, but isn’t if fascinating for our world to grow a bit wider every time we have a discovery? No matter how miniscule the importance is, our world shifts–somehow–because of this discovery.

The next time I walk the same path, I’d be wondering about the orange building, heck, I’d probably seek for it. So you see, my walks in the same path will never be the same again. The green grass, the brown, murky field, the tall buildings, and even the paleness or clearness of the sky is affected by that orange building from a distance. Everything changes.

Despite my working conditions getting worse by the months as I’m walking on scalding eggshells, me being in a pinch with my boss, and my insecurity blooming while I feel myself digging further into my shell, this musing was a breath of fresh air. It’s like a crack from this shell which gave me a bit of light and a view of the other, brighter world.

Definitely, I’m proud of my muddy shoes today.

{Expectation VS Reality} Biking: A REVERSE

As I promised myself (and stated in this blog before), I would bike again to and from work.

I did.

To be honest, I was expecting that I would have a terrible time like my first attempt, but everything went smoothly! Biking was a breeze today, except for a few wrong turns which ate some of my energy.

I’m not really sure if the reason for my easier run this time is because I plotted my route well, avoiding any which too much cars would pass or there are up-hill curves (I also made sure to have a Gatorade in my basket), or because my bike felt so much lighter than before. I guess having it checked by my uncle, cousin, and grandfather was a great thing. They tweaked something with the bike and it run faster on the flat routes, and it felt lighter on the up-hill curves!

The rush-hour traffic horrified me, but I was able to bike with ease at the side of the road. It was kinda scary running with big cars, but I had to be brave. Anyway, the feeling down-hill felt brilliant! My only problem is the motorists since they tend to run faster than cars and can easily bump into me when they’re trying to find a hole within the traffic. And people! Guh! Why won’t they get the fuck off the road?! I seriously need to buy a bell soon.

Haaay.

It was a good day, nonetheless. I had a good time at school, only one student, so I was able to ready worksheets for my students next week. I’m beginning to be more comfortable with my co-teachers and I feel they’re getting to know me better and are getting more comfortable with me, too.

I’m glad I did the biking again. The “what if…” would torture me! Some things are worth trying, even if it’s difficult or seems difficult, but if we never give it a chance to be experienced, then it remains a fantasy.

So wait for me, Japan! I’ll live there. I swear!