How I Cut Back On Avocado Toast

 
 

This piece has been revised and improved since its original posting on May 25, 2017.

Let me just say right now, right here: I have never eaten avocado toast. I don't even BUY avocados because every time I BUY an avocado, it's not ripe enough to eat and it spoils before I realize it's edible. I have a mountain of student debt that eats up a couple hundred dollars of my income every month. I live in a city where millennials live with their parents at a higher rate than anywhere else in the country. Only at 25 did I become financially independent for the first time in my life.

The 'Avocado Toast' Philosophy, in case you don't remember, was first presented by Tim Gurner on 60 Minutes while preaching to millennials about how to buy a house, as if frivolity was the only reason we can't afford to go hundreds of thousands further in debt. Taken as a blanket statement, it oversimplifies the problem and vilifies the millennial. We live in such a polar society (it's absolute absurdity that we can't all accept that trans folks deserve respect and acceptance, people with vaginas deserve access to whatever birth control they want, the patriarchy damages everyone, and children deserve access to a good education/the fact that school funding comes from property tax is a CLASSIST IN ITS VERY NATURE. But I digress) but if we consider that there could be some truth to the statement that millennials spend frivolously, we can begin to examine where we ourselves might be spending money where we don't have to. Hear me out.

We have grown up with access to the internet. We lived pre-Great Recession and are notoriously nostalgic. We LOOOOOOOVE brunch. We know what it's like to have shitty prospects and want to live in the present moment. None of these things are our fault, but it couldn't hurt to take a second to consider how they affect our decisions now, right?  Asking ourselves, "Where's the toast?" and, "How can I eliminate the excess in my own life in order to feel more fulfilled?" can mean the difference between financial independence and paycheck to paycheck.

SO! Where to start? Take a good, hard look at the stuff you mindlessly impulse purchase. Meals out, cell phone apps, nail/hair appointments, Starbucks. The stuff you think counts as "treating yourself" that serves no purpose after that instant gratification fix. When I realized I was spending over $1,100 a year on my hair and nails alone, I was flabbergasted. Giving up my nex-gen nails and wax appointments was an easy way to make a LOT of cushion in my budget. There's this great app called Clarity (which I like better than Mint by QuickBooks) that simplifies what you spend money on, helps you track your habits, AND encourages you to start a saving habit.

This next tip might sound harder than you think it is, but: utility usage can be a great way to squeeze a little more blood out of a turnip--er, avocado. Being mindful about how much water you consume can make a significant impact in your wallet. From personal experience, I can tell you that mindful water consumption meant the difference between a 50% increase and a reasonable bill. You can also implement a grey water system to mindfully conserve water AND your spending. Check on your cell phone plan and auto insurance, too; updating these bills to reflect your current usage is a great way to maintain control over your finances.

Giuls and I talk really openly about our finances and what we're doing to manage our spending. We even created a buddy system for spending frugally while on vacation. To help me stay on the straight an narrow with my day to day spending, Giuls created a budget sheet that YOU can download here! This worksheet is formulated to easily calculate your monthly expenses and we're PRETTY DARN PROUD of it. Here's to taking responsibility of our spending and focusing inward to live our best lives!

Recent Experiment Proves Millenials Capable of Budgeting, Utilizing Buddy System

 
 Illustration by Lindsey Ashley

Illustration by Lindsey Ashley

 

So you blew your budget on swimsuits and a bottle of Patrón before your vacation even started because you #ballsohard. We get it. But now you're destined to spring break like a #peasant, and you're suuuper bummed about it. Don't fret! Your fairy finance mother is here to teach you how to broke-girl vacation step-by-step. I brainstormed and executed the following strategy this weekend and didn't blow my budget ONCE! THERE IS NOTHING SO EMPOWERING; LET ME TELL YOU.

Step 1: Plan your itinerary. This inherently makes planning for spending WAY easier, plus you get the added bonus of not having to waste precious vacation time deciding the fate of said vacation. 

Step 2: Gather some supplies. You'll need a writing utensil, as much cash as you plan to spend (plus 20 percent of that number if you're able) in small bills, your tongue, and a few envelopes -- three will PROBABLY do. Don't get those big-ass envelopes; get the ones that are the same size as... money. See where I'm going here?

Step 3: Prepare one (1) container with enough liquid to cover a 3"x2" object. Submerge your debit and/or credit card. Place container in freezer.  Affirm that you will stick to your budget by chanting, "I am a fiscally responsible adult," as you spin around with your forehead on a bat.

Step 4: Remove your bullshit hat. I am 100 percent serious. Grab it by its invisible rim and set it on your invisible table. Shit's about to get real. If you think this sounds ridiculous, just remember that a second ago you were spinning around on a bat chanting about how fiscally responsible you are.

Step 5: Find a Buddy. Budgeting by yourself is hard and not fun, but budgeting with a buddy makes it all bearable. Walk your Budget Buddy though steps 1 through 4.

Step 6: Decide together how much you're going to spend on each activity. Your numbers should all be the same bc this is a BUDDY SYSTEM. You will stick to your guns more if you've got a friend sticking to theirs. Grab two envelopes each and write "S.O.S." and "Travel" on them. Put that extra 20 percent of funds we told you about in those envelopes. NOTE: TEQUILA ONLY COUNTS AS AN EMERGENCY IN THE LAST 24 HOURS OF YOUR TRIP. Lick those envelopes shut!

Step 7: Divvy up the remainder of the cash between the last two envelopes, and write on both of them how much you're allotted for every activity. Don't try to thrift evenly across the board -- you'll be more likely to stay on budget with only $20 at the bar tonight if you've got $40 to blow at brunch tomorrow.

Step 8: Once you get there, lock that cash you're not using in a safe, and have a great vacation!!!

How to live Tidy, not Perfect.

Giuls and I have been discussing how to limit the amount of time it takes to clean one’s apartment. We love a good, productive cleaning sesh, but it seems like we’re spending way too much time cleaning during the week. How do you live a cleaner life while simultaneously cutting back on the amount of time spent cleaning? I don’t think you’ve got to get rid of a bunch of shit to live a tidier life. I’m never going to downsize my shoe collection and I will forever be a cosmetic junkie. How, then, does one live a tidier life without completely overhauling and Marie Kondo-ing the shit out of their apartment? We found that there were three fundamental truths to living a cleaner life. Gird your loins.

#1: ALWAYS BE TIDYING

I know, I know, this seems rull counterintuitive to the overall goal of cleaning less, but it’s nevertheless effective. ABT, or ALWAYS BE TIDYING, will change your life. ‘Always be Tidying’ is the principle of always putting away what you’ve most recently taken out. That means not letting the dishes pile up, hanging up the first two outfits you tried on this morning, and not leaving your towel on the bed. By ’always be tidying’, you’re eliminating the amount of labor- and mentally-intensive clean-up that has to happen at a later date. Not to mention, your environment is hella more serene in the present moment. As Joan Crawford simply put, “Never leave one room without something for another.”

#2: STREAMLINE YA SYSTEM

Now that you’re in the habit of tidying up regularly, you’re ready to move onto the next step: SYS, or STREAMLINE YA SYSTEM. By STREAMLINING YA SYSTEM, you’re reducing the amount of time you have to spend putting shit away in an inconvenient AF location. Do your clothes pile up in the bathroom? Get a hamper and stick it in there. Do you have a hard time putting dishes away? Buy a dish rack that works for your needs. Make it EASIER to be tidier. To STREAMLINE MA SYSTEM, for example, I bought a divided laundry hamper so that my clothes are immediately sorted. Boom. A third of the work is already done.

#3: THROWOUT SOME STUFF

Ha! You thought I was going to tell you that you could keep everything, right? WRONG! You should definitely get rid of some stuff and you should do it frequently. If you find you’re holding onto physical records or tech boxes, sign up for LastPass and take pictures of barcodes, serial codes, etc. These documents are highly secured and available wherever and whenever you may need to access them. On another note, if something no longer works for you, don’t work for it; that organization system that isn’t big enough or doesn’t fit your changed needs? Let it go! STREAMLINE YA SYSTEM and get a better system that works for you!

Giuls and I used to believe that we could either do something wholeheartedly or not at all. We didn’t like biting off one slice without committing to the whole pie, and we realized that said a lot about our perfectionist natures. There IS a happy medium and it is sort of manic to downshift from one extreme to the other. Be mindful of these tendencies that, while they may masquerade as productive, “good” habits, these habits sabotage small progress in the meantime.

With all that being said, though, if you’re dead set on a deep, absolute zero sort of clean, I have one tip for you: start in the recesses of your closet. pull everything out and reorganize because 1) you’ll have more space to put away things later, 2) you’ll find stuff you’ve been missing or realize that you haven’t missed other things at all, and 3) It’s a small area and completing something will give you a feeling of accomplishment. Start in your closet and work your way out from there.

The important thing to remember, though, is that we’re trying to eliminate the amount of time we spend cleaning and the labor that it entails. By procrastinating until it’s time to dedicate hours and hours of your time and mental energy to cleaning, you’re enforcing your perfectionist tendencies to bounce from one extreme to another. To get to the point where cleaning doesn’t feel particularly laborious, you’ve got to chip away at it a little bit all the time and concentrate on what you most recently used. If your place is ‘tidy,’ then cleaning it will be just that: spraying counters, swapping out linens. It WON’T be an exhausting, day-long process that sucks up half your weekend.

We’re all about finding the most efficient ways to get the job done! What are your tried and true methods? Email us to be featured in an updated post!

OUR FAVORITE RESOURCES ON TIDYING UP:

Support some Black Girl Magic with Effie's Paper

I fell in love with Effie’s Paper the moment I opened the package that Fab Feminist contributing writer (and ultimate gift-giver), Lily, sent me. Everything I’ve ever gotten from Lily has been uniquely feminist, so I knew it was even better than what I was seeing at face value. In neat plastic casing was a set of stationary with marbled backs and black envelopes that read “from the desk of a badass bitch” on the front. Let me tell you, I love this stationary so much that I evacuated to my parents’ house with it in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

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Spend Some Time with Yourself

It may be that I just finished a mini-marathon of Sex and the City, but I think it has more to do with the fact that I've had three whole days to myself. If you're in a long-term, live-in relationship like I am, it's pretty easy to lose perspective of who your independent self is after a few years. A night or a weekend on your own is a great refresher--I forgot how much I liked spending time with myself! Today was the first day that I had all to myself, start to finish. Oh, man, was it fun. I talked to my other half in the morning, bathed for the first time that day, bought a couple books on Audible (they're having a killer $4.95 sale right now, don't miss out), WALKED to the West Palm Beach Saturday Morning Market, talked to strangers, bathed for a second time, purged some of my costume jewelry, went on a me-date to Whole Foods (Whole Farts as my bae calls it) for dinner, started my mini Sex and the City marathon, stood on my patio soaking in the cool night air, and finally crawled into bed.

I haven't done the dishes all weekend. I shaved my armpits for the first time in five days today. I littered the apartment with dirty laundry, I'm all out of fresh underwear, and I don't give a damn. It felt good to be a foul bachelorette frog for a couple days. I got to hog the whole bed, too--I joke that it's an improvement on the 75% that I normally hog...

If I've learned one thing this weekend, it's the importance of spending time with yourself. Not by yourself, but with yourself. Present in the moment and enjoying yourself. It can be hard with another person to think of amongst the day-to-day hustle, but if you have an opportunity to spend a holiday apart or get away for a weekend without it being a big deal, do it! Book a cheap last minute hotel room for a night! Wake up late and go to the pool! Spend time in your own quiet comfort. You might just find what you weren't looking for.