The Minimalist’s Guide to Eating Well on a Budget
by John D’Agostino
A few years ago I was living in New York City and working at a restaurant called The Greenhouse where I met my wife, Jennifer. She worked there too but she had just graduated from college and wanted to save money so she decided not to work full time. For two months we lived together while we saved up enough money for our first apartment together.
We were both working part time jobs and saving up money for a down payment on a house. One day after Jennifer came home from work, she told me that she needed to go back to school because her parents would be coming over soon. I didn’t really have anything else to say since it was pretty obvious what she meant. After all, I’d been doing the same thing with my job and saving up money for my own place ever since I moved here six years earlier!
I remember thinking to myself “Why am I still working? Why do I need to save money?”
That question was probably the most common one that we asked each other during those early days. And the answer was always the same: “Because if I don’t, then when will I get old and die and nobody will be around to take care of me anymore.” It was a pretty scary thought so I decided to find another job doing something less demanding.
I wish I could say that I got a good job right away but it didn’t work out that way. After six months of not even getting a call back for an interview, it occurred to me that I should go back to what I know best. Jennifer ended up getting a job too and we were both working part time again while still trying to save money for a house. Unfortunately, the money we were making wasn’t enough to support our careers so we both ended up back in school just like Jennifer’s parents suggested.
It was around this time that I started looking into getting a roommate to help pay the rent. We didn’t have much luck at first but after a couple months we managed to hook up with someone who seemed perfect for the job. The only problem was, he wanted our house to himself and wouldn’t even consider sharing it with us! I suggested that we move out and find another place but Jennifer didn’t want to waste all the money we had already put into the house so instead we decided to do what every other student does in college: endure it!
Fortunately, the guy ended up being a pretty chill roommate. He didn’t really party or have noisy friends over so it wasn’t all that bad. We could handle living with each other so we decided to stay in that house for as long as possible. Jennifer and I both continued to save money for a down payment on a house and I kept working part time while going to school full time.
We managed to get through the next couple of years without too many problems but after our lease was up we had a really hard time finding another place that we could afford. Eventually we found one but it was pretty run down and gross. We had to split the rent with four other people just to make it work. We weren’t making much money at our jobs anymore so I had to take out some student loans but we were still optimistic about our future.
Time passed and we all made a little more money and got a little better at budgeting but we were still living paycheck to paycheck. Jennifer was doing pretty well in her career but I was still having a hard time finding some job security. Eventually Jennifer got sick of the apartment and wanted to buy a house. We pooled all our money together and managed to find one that wasn’t a complete dump but it still needed quite a lot of work.
Jennifer really wanted me to help fix it up but most of my free time went towards my classes and part time job. Jennifer ended up having to do most of it herself which was fine at first but she eventually got fed up and pushed me out of the process. She said it was because I didn’t care about the house like she did but the real reason was our relationship had taken a turn for the worse around that time.
We just weren’t as happy or excited about each other like we were in college. We both had a lot of stressful things going on in our daily lives and we were fighting more than ever before. We tried to make it work for a long time but eventually we couldn’t stand each other anymore. We went through this long, drawn out divorce that was just a huge financial drain.
Jennifer ended up selling the house at a loss and got most of the money from the divorce. I tried to maintain a good relationship with her after it was all over but she moved all the way to another state and pretty much erased me from her life. I couldn’t blame her. She was always better at that stuff than me.
The divorce happened several years ago and I’m in a much better place now but my career still hasn’t gone anywhere. I’m still working as a nurse and barely scraping by. The only thing that I can think of that will really help boost my finances is to go back to school and get a better degree.
This is sort of why you’re here. I want to know if you can help me out in this situation.
Can you see what you can do to help me?”
You think for a moment before replying, “I think I know what would help you the most right now.”
“A hug. You look like you need a hug.”
Carter smirks and laughs, “That’s all you got for me? A hug?”
“I mean if you want to go upstairs and have wild crazy monkey sexual intercooge,” you say while wiggling your eyebrows. “That’s cool too I suppose.”
Carter smacks you on the arm, “Very funny. I’ll be sure to remember to use that line tonight.”
“Anytime babe, anytime,” you grin.
Carter playfully punches your arm again before getting up from your desk. “Alright, I better go. I have a test in biology tomorrow and I need to start studying for it.”
“Alright well good luck and remember our deal!”
“I know, I know, if I get a B or better you don’t rat me out to Kyle. I’ll see you later. Thanks for the chat. It was…really enlightening.
And the hug.”
“Anytime, partner. And you’re welcome!” You say with a smile.
Carter rolls her eyes before walking out of your room and shutting the door. You fall back into your chair and let out a sigh of relief.
That went better than you thought it would.
Now all you have to do is wait for Carter to get that B or better so you can finally rat her out to Kyle.
You’re pretty sure it should be easy since she mentioned she had a test tomorrow. You imagine all she has to do is pay attention in class and she’ll ace it, she’s always been a smart girl.
Then again she did say biology was one of her weakest subjects…maybe you actually made things a little harder for her…but she said she would do it!
She promised you!
You’re such a good influence on her.
With that positive thought in mind you walk out of your room and head downstairs to watch some TV while your Mom is in the kitchen figuring out how to make chicken salad sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunches.
As you think about the future, you realize that maybe moving back home was the best decision after all. Things really are looking up for you.
The next day you’re brushing your teeth in the bathroom when you hear your Mom call out to you.
“Eric! Get in here! Now!”
You suspect that this must be important if she’s willing to breach the rules of the house and shout from her bedroom directly into the bathroom. You quickly rinse the toothpaste from your mouth and walk out of the bathroom.
Your Mom is looking at you with a very serious expression on her face. “There’s something I need to tell you.”
“It’s about your sister…”
You don’t want to hear it!
Your Mom begins to squeal and jump up and down and you find yourself in a bone crushing hug. You’re not sure how this happened, but all you know is you need to get out of here before the news becomes any worse. You struggle to get free, finally breaking free of her grasp, “I’ve got to go!”
Wait, where are you going?”
“I…I uh…have something really important to do!” you say as you quickly walk away from her and out of the room.
You get out of the house as quick as you can and begin walking towards the high school. Along the way you try to think up an explanation for why your sister is getting married. You go through a few ideas, all of which seem to be really far-fetched. By the time you finally get to the high school, you’ve settled on telling Kyle that she’s having a baby…somehow that will be easier to explain than the truth.
You enter the school and begin walking towards his classroom. On your way there you bump into Carter.
“Hey Eric! I heard the news, congrats on being an uncle!” he says. You look at him with a puzzled expression. “
Your sister is getting married right?”
Oh right, you told him that yesterday…ugh why did you tell him that? “Ah yeah…about that…”
“Gotta go!” you say as you quickly walk past him and towards Kyle’s classroom. After arriving and taking a quick look to see if he’s alone, you open the door and step inside, seeing that it’s indeed empty. You walk up to his desk and begin staring down at him. You’re not really sure how to start this conversation so you just blurt out the truth.
“My sister is not getting married.”
“Oh…” Kyle says with a shocked expression.
He looks like he doesn’t know how to respond to you, and he’d be correct in that assumption. You continue to throw truth bombs at him as he tries to process this new information.
“She’s only 14.”
“…oh dear.” He says finally giving a more appropriate response.
You continue. “Her boyfriend is 37 and already has a family.”
“And to top it all off, I’m moving back in with my parents.”
You drop the bomb and watch as Kyle slowly processes the information. After a couple seconds he finally looks up at you. “I don’t know what to say…except I’m sorry.”
The two of you sit in silence for a moment. You think about saying more, but you decide now is the time to get out while the getting is good. You quickly stand up and exit the room, leaving Kyle with his thoughts. On your way out you bump into Mr.Foster.
Hey Eric, I’m heading to the teacher’s lounge, you want to come?”
Sources & references used in this article:
Do Less: A Minimalist Guide to a Simplified, Organized, and Happy Life by M Moore – 2019 – PublishDrive
Budget by R Jonat – 2014 – books.google.com
Temperature, larval diet, and density effects on development rate and survival of Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae) by R Templar – 2001 – books.google.com
You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and how You Can Too by J Couret, E Dotson, MQ Benedict – PloS one, 2014 – journals.plos.org
Goodbye, things: on minimalist living by T Strobel – 2012 – books.google.com
VB6: Eat vegan before 6: 00 to lose weight and restore your health… for good by F Sasaki – 2017 – books.google.com
Essential: Essays by The Minimalists by M Bittman – 2013 – books.google.com
Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by JF Millburn, R Nicodemus – 2015 – books.google.com
Rationalization of pleasure and emotions: The analysis of the blogs of Polish minimalists by F Sasaki – 2017 – books.google.com