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So, I’m sure there are a ton of people in this crazy concrete jungle we call New York who are in the same position as me: I’m a foreigner, on a limited budget, in one of the world's most expensive cities.
However, hope is NOT lost, my friends! I’ve managed to come up with a system that allows me to pay for all of my basic essentials, which for me are rent, a phone bill, a monthly train pass, and, of course, food!
It all started when, during my first couple of months upon arrival, I got to the second week of each month and discovered I had already spent the majority of my paycheck! And I’m talking down to coins.... yikes.
I knew the important stuff was paid for already, but I honestly believe it will send you mad not being able to enjoy the little things in life: going out with friends, seeing a movie, seeing a live show, getting a coffee, or being able to buy a new book. These simple sounding things really do bring an amazing balance to your life to ensure that you maintain a positive outlook.
This is when I discovered intermittent fasting (I.F.).
I.F. is when you abide by a new regiment of food consumption in which you go a long period of time without eating (most of which is while asleep) and then have a smaller window of time to be able to eat. For example, fast from 10 PM to 2 PM the following day, and then eat from 2-10, the most common and popular one being 16 hours of fasting with an 8 hour window to be able to eat.
This system completely changed the way I organise my budget. Because you fast for so long, the first meal I eat (for me, at 2 PM) fills me up so much that I’ll often not eat again that day, or only eat a small meal at the end of the day.
Over time, my body readjusted to this way of life and one nutrient-full, large meal a day keeps me satisfied for the entire day. Eating once daily allowed me to save money rapidly.
Once I pay for my essentials:
- Train: $121
- Phone: $50
- Rent: $750
The total comes to $921... on a paycheck each month of $1500, not much is leftover. It allows $579 for food, outings, entertainment, the things that make life worth living; having fun!
I would originally allow $100 for food each week, leaving me with $179 for the rest.
But take out further bills (and yes, luxuries) like a gym membership, website domains, utilities, and so on, I was left with barely $50. That's not much when a cup of coffee is $4.50 in this town!
But with I.F., I was able to shop week-by-week and only for a plan of one meal a day, which I would pre-prepare myself.
After doing so, my shopping for food bills dropped from $100 down to just $50 a week, leaving me with an extra $200 in cash.
My first couple of months, I saved and was really strict on myself. Now, I have a safe back-drop, a full stomach, and enough to afford the stuff that brings a little bit of joy and fun into a life.
I can’t stress more, however, that the meals need to be nutrient rich! And you should check with a doctor if you have any current medical conditions to ensure that going into this proposed method is good for you.
This may not work for everyone, but it definitely did for me.