Day 9 of they year without spending and the questions are coming in quick and fast. One of my friends Rachel, who is really interested in this whole project has asked tons of questions, and I’m glad she has because it is raising thoughts and concerns that I’ve yet to even consider.
For example Rachel raised the important question of Home Entertainment, more importantly my unquenchable thirst for movies. In my student days, and even whilst I was working, I was a pretty hardcore downloader. I got greedy with the whole thing to the extent that I would download anything and everything I could get my hands on. I estimate I spent weeks burning various CD’s and DVD’s, but when you can’t afford anything, free is a good price. Now I can’t say I’m proud of what I used to do, in fact looking back it was obscene, however what is done is done and we move forward. Nowadays I may download the odd TV programme because it airs in the USA before the UK, but thats more like watching an advance showing than stealing as technically it will be shown on my TV in the days following the download, so its more cheeky than wrong.
This brings us onto the subject of movies. The problem is, the year without spending includes digital media (cd-r’s, dvd-r’s etc). If I can’t burn it, then there is little point copying or downloading stuff to watch. This leaves me a few options however. Film4 and the various other channels on Freeview in the UK show tons of good movies. All I have to do on the 7 day programme guide is select the movies I want, and hit the record button on the PVR. This means I always have a ton of movies stored on the PVR which is ideal. I also found a 320GB IDE hard drive in Vicki’s old PC doing nothing, so I’m going to upgrade the 160GB drive already in the PVR to double the storage capacity, will post with the progress, I digress…
If not watching pre recorded Digital quality stuff on the PVR, I can choose to view old movies out of my substantial DVD collection, or indeed trade movies with friends to keep things fresh. We are also holding a Movie night every Thursday to which people bring the popcorn and drinks, and we supply the hospitality, warmth and of course a big ass TV. Depending on the numbers of people who turn up, this saves a fortune. What’s more we can pause the movie half way through to make tea and go to the toilet, now that beats any cinema. We aim to do this every thursday so over the course of the year, if you assume with snacks and a ticket the cinema costs £12 a head, we are saving around £2k a year on cinema visits between us all. Movie night is a nice calm social event and fun is had by all.
Now onto various other things besides TV. I’m also an avid Xbox 360 user. Regular readers of this blog will remember I cancelled the Xbox live subscription which was costing me around £60 a year, and was never used. With regards to games, i have an abundance of games. I’m one of these people who needed to buy the latest games on their release date (past tense). As such the current title I was playing was shelved in my Man Cupboard in favour of racking up achievement points in the latest title to hit the shelves. This means that my cupboard is chock full of half completed games (honestly around 70 titles, I know thats disgusting and I’m sorry in advance, the Xbox is my Achilles heal!). So the task for this year is to ignore the latest games (of course until a friend completes said latest release and sends it my way on loan) and concentrate on completing the library of titles already in my possession.
Finally books. I never used to be a book person. During my degree, I would always read a journal, or a website, or even a newspaper article (and even, heaven forbid, cite wikipedia, shameful!) but would only use a book as a last resort. Doing a Computing degree meant that as soon as the book hit the shelf on any given computing topic, it was out of date. This out of date material may have been suitable for some lecturers but not me.
I only really got back into reading in the summer after finishing my bachelors degree. For a time I was unemployed, and would spend hours in the park in Manchester, reading in the sun and waiting for Vicki to finish work. Those days feel like a long time ago, it feels like forever since it was warm enough to wear only a t shirt and read in the sun. Sorry I’m getting all gooey and romantic, perhaps a little too Jane Austen!
Anyway, this period really got me back into reading. At the time I loved the books by Jeremy Clarkson & James May. I’m not really one for novels, i like journalistic writing, real life stuff and text books.
During this next year I’m determined not to buy books. I’m heading down to St. Helens library this week to re-activate my youth Library membership, in the hope that I can find stuff in there which is relevant and not out of date. We also have an abundance of books on our bookshelves as Vicki is a hard core readist (I would say reader, but she is a little more hardcore than a reader, so a new word has been coined to describe her). I’m going to raid the bookshelves for inspiration. I already have my eye on the copy of George Orwell’s 1984, and may even give some of the Penguins Banned Books selection a go.
So there we have it. How to entertain yourself for a year without spending on new stuff. i think we all forget how privileged we are. I’m lay in bed typing this, with Vicki by my side enjoying a good book. I’m typing away on my iBook over my wireless network in a nice warm bed. This experiment in the few days I have been doing it has already made me feel slightly more humble, and very motivated. It’s almost as if now it would be harder to spend on stuff than to not spend. I’m in that zone of proving it can be done and proving I can do it, and the last time I got into that zone I got into £4k more debt and ended up with a Masters degree. Time to clear some debt and live a little more honestly.
Thanks for reading this entry, it has been quite an epic. Please feel free to comment at the bottom, your comments mean a lot.