Saving Money Causes A Headache

So that’s where this headache came from. Silly me. I tried to save money. Instead, I’ll be spending a day or two of reduced productivity, and maybe reduced income, because I packed and ate a sandwich. Lunchmeat, (or was it the stinky cheese?), signed me up for about two days of mental resistance training. Saving money isn’t just a matter of math. Experiments may be involved.

The good news is that I am back in a coworks, again. The longer version of the story will come out soon (after their official press release or at least a good tweet.) Ideas don’t always grow when they’re first planted, but give them some time and they may sprout. In this case, a non-profit that I’d talked to months ago about coworking found a model that may work well with their facility. The news may not be out, but I am in as the first coworker, which made me a solo-worker until the second person signed up. (Thanks, Pattie.)

If you need a primer on coworks, check out some of my previous posts. They might help. At the simplest, a coworks is a shared office that emphasizes collaboration interspersed with great expanses of concentrated work time. Some of my best gigs came from sitting with a diverse set of people and tangentially being invited to take on something they didn’t want to do, or couldn’t do. One good gig can pay for a year’s dues.

Many nomadic workers in the Gig Economy and the 1099 Economy work from a variety of places: home, libraries, coffeeshops, anywhere they can comfortably find power and wi-fi. Home can be distracting, and can lead to being a recluse cursed with self-inflicted cabin fever. Libraries are free, and great if there’s a need for lots of books; but there can be privacy issues when dealing with clients or when someone might not approve of what’s on your laptop’s screen. Coffeeshops have food and drink, for a price; and usually don’t want outside food and drink, so those prices add up. They also have espresso machines, music, and seating that is designed for style more than typing ergonomics.

A coworks costs money, but less than a shared office. There are far fewer distractions (some day I’ll get to those dirty dishes at home.) It’s quieter than most places, even modern libraries, but background noise happens. (Currently, I’m overhearing 2016’s version of teen pop. Earlier, it was someone practicing piano.) Coworkers tend to be respectful of others, so privacy is less of a concern. A coworks that allows people to bring in their own thermos and lunch means frugality leads to significant savings when compared to buying every beverage and eating out for lunch. And, that’s where I stumbled.

Langley, WA July 2013Langley, WA on Whidbey Island is an international tourist destination for good reason. The tiny city has very good food; plenty of coffee, tea, wine, and beer options; and is priced accordingly. In general, for every restaurant meal I eat, I have to work an hour or two to pay for it. Somedays, like today, I only have three billable hours. There goes that money that should go to the mortgage, various insurances, and a variety of utilities. Ah, but I like to cook, can eat simply, and can enjoy my food (which my waistline demonstrates.) Therefore, brown-bagging works for me.

Buy some eggs, cheese, veggies, and maybe some bacon and bake up some quiche that travels well. Buy some bread, lunchmeat, and cheese and layer up a lunch that is simple and satisfying. Commute by bicycle, and justify eating it all (while fighting that waistline bulge.) Combine it all and make meals for nearly the price of eating at home, with the bonus of getting in shape.

The hurdle is that I eat gluten-free. I’m not one of the evangelists that have done years of research. I accidentally experimented with my diet and menu, and stumbled across the realization that anything with wheat ruined my mood. Decades of bad moods explained by a grain. No problem. Eggs, cheese, veggies, bacon, bacon, bacon, (oops, sorry, got carried away there), and cheese don’t have gluten. Gluten-free bread is expensive, but readily available and tastes fine. Lunchmeat shouldn’t be a problem because meat is gluten-free; but (and you knew I was going to get here), lunchmeat can be different. Sliced ham, beef, and turkey are usually okay; but, lunchmeat is one way to extend meat, cutting back on the protein and the cost by adding fillers. Currently, I am cursing those fillers.

My meal savings were substantial, but the side effects made for a dismal Fourth of July (with the fireworks not helping), and a week of a fragile mood amplifying any bad news. Work ended early most days, limiting my income more than the savings. Grump.

Fortunately, the effect is temporary, for me. The unprocessed lunchmeats tend not to have gluten issues. One solution is to use a different (and more expensive) local deli that emphasizes organic, free trade, open-range, sustainable, basically healthy food. Shopping there costs more, but building lunches from there is still cheaper than eating out, so the savings remain.

People who live frugally, who live simply, tend to experiment. There isn’t one answer for everyone. People are individuals, not stereotypes. Vegans certainly aren’t going to follow my example exactly; but some of the same ideas apply. Extreme networkers know their best use of time is to purposely dine in public; they balance the cost of the meal against the potential value of every encounter. Maybe that would work for me, too; but, I’m not comfortable with that financial risk. Fortunately, simply walking around Langley is sufficiently powerful networking. Smiles and showing up are powerful and affordable tools.

Without getting into the icky details, I know what I must do with the gluten flowing through my body – get rid of it. Plenty of fluids and exercise sound familiar? Time helps, too.

The other thing that helps is the inspiration to get back into my kitchen. It has been a while since I’ve made meatloaf. Local ground meat, local eggs, leftover homemade gluten-free cornbread, an onion, some garlic, maybe some mushrooms or olives, some messy fingers and a messy kitchen, giving the mix some time in the oven, and I end up with lunchmeat that is cheaper and tastier than sandwich meat I’ve found in a deli. Oh yeah, and bacon, gotta top it with bacon (an idea I got from my Mom) – and I happen to have some nitrate-free bacon sitting at home, waiting.

I guess that math does work out, thanks to the lesson learned from a headache.

About Tom Trimbath

consultant / entrepreneur / writer / photographer / speaker / aerospace engineer / semi-semi-retired More info at: https://trimbathcreative.wordpress.com/about/ and at my amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0035XVXAA
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One Response to Saving Money Causes A Headache

  1. Pattie Beaven says:

    FYI- EVERYTHING is better with bacon! I tend to not eat it very often for various reasons, but I will be the first to admit EVERYTHING is better with bacon.
    I’m a sucker for meal planning- it’s just better overall for those looking to eat healthier, save money, and yes, even help preserve the environment in small ways. Even if it does cause headaches…

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