I just returned from another trip, this time to a Mediterranean country: four days in a big city for a meeting followed by ten days in a more remote region where my mother had a hillside house built. (Yes, that’s the view above.) She and my siblings now take care of it and visit when we can. On this trip I focused on getting a local bank account and a way to have the utilities automatically paid from it. That was a huge hassle, but now it’s done. I put $1,000 into the account and my siblings are putting in some as well. We’ve put in so much because the bills had not been paid in a long while. Going forward, I expect the total to be maybe $30 per month total, just $10 each. Given that the house is totally paid for, that’s a pretty sweet deal.
I just added up how much I spent on that trip, aside from that $1,000, and also apart from the big airfare and hotel covered by my research account: $775 for other travel costs (including a short plane trip and a rental car for ten days), an extra $120 for the hotel in the big city (since I’ve now exhausted my research account for the academic year), and $537 that I used to buy groceries, eat out, and pick up a couple of small things, including one hat to ward off the sun. (Oh, holy hell, did that hat violate my year of no shopping? Can I just say that it was a cosmetic necessity?)
I am actually quite amazed that I only spent $537 on this and that over 14 days — which included a handful of extraordinarily delicious meals out and the costs for making several meals in for family and friends. This was no accident. At every moment I was super-conscious of my spending, including at the grocery store. And except for that hat, I was religious about my year of no shopping. No matter how I bemoaned not having packed adequately, I did not shop for any clothes, jewelry, shoes, or bags. I walked right by every kiosk selling local jewelry, I ignored the shoe stores. I lived with what I had.
The whole trip did slow my debt reduction process, but at least (forgive my rationalizing) I can write off the expenses since a good deal of them were work related, including the meeting in the big city and meeting with a couple of colleagues in the remote area.
I am also taking care of that house. In the past I might have ignored the need to take care of the utilities and set up a local bank account, but now I’m hyper-focused. This is all not just about paying off debt but about taking full responsibility for my life. And, yes, it’s a very nice life.