My next post will be about 5 things I've continued to invest in, that are worth it to me in this age of belt-tightening, but here are 5 things I've given up since becoming self-employed:
Therapy: One of the first people I contacted was my therapist, to cancel that week's upcoming appointment, and all subsequent ones. I was barely affording the out of pocket $150/week as it was, but I was loath to find someone in my insurance's network because I clicked with my therapist and had already shared and been through so much with her. The idea of starting over was daunting to the point of not being worth it. Funnily enough, I knew I'd be seeing family members and others I'd discussed in therapy for a while, and it felt like an opportunity to learn how to be a grownup, to learn how to handle possible adversity with grace, and I think I did, to the best of my abilities. It will take a little getting used to, and I in all likelihood will return when I am able, but I think I'm making pretty good strides on my own, which is an accomplishment for me in and of itself. This also means, unless I find I can't function without them, giving up the Ritalin I'd been using, since I can't afford another pricey doctor visit. It's possible I could find someone using whatever insurance I now have, but I am terrible with all forms of paperwork and don't think I'd have the time or energy at the moment to wade through that. I still have some Wellbutrin left and am hoping it's not a giant hassle to get more. If it is, I would consider springing for a doctor visit since I do need that to keep me earning money by writing and editing and generally getting out of bed.
Personal training: I had a few more training sessions left that I'd purchased from New York Sports Club, with a trainer I've enjoyed but I wasn't sure I'd continue with anyway. I've found that for me, measuring my BMI only leads me to either become obsessive and depressed about its numbers, neither of which help encourage me in a healthy way to eat more wholesomely or exercise further. I simply cannot afford the indulgence of pricey training, though I am thinking of looking into working out in a park with some friends who recommend the classes there. I do like the individual attention, but have found an inner resource of discipline I didn't have before, and have been running more consistently, in part to get my money's worth out of my gym membership, and in part to relieve stress and tension.
Travel (mostly): I love traveling; it's what keeps me sane when NYC gets to be too much for me, which is all the time, and gives me a chance to see old friends, make new ones, discover deliciousness like Sweet Iron Waffles in Seattle, and contemplate whether I could actually live in whatever city I'm visiting. I find that I see more art and explore more and just look around in a different way when I'm out of my home environment. I would still like to go to Iceland and Korea in 2012, in addition to our Cupcake Cruise to Bermuda, but for now those plans are on hold. I already have a ticket to Scottsdale for two weeks from now, and I'm hoping to still go to Portland, Maine, since it's cheap and I could use a little escape, and my uncle may get me a ticket to LA for Thanksgiving, but other than that, I'm using this extended time at home to work on clearing out my home. Perhaps if it was more livable of a space I wouldn't feel the desire to travel so much; or maybe it'll be a way to incorporate writing into my traveling and find a way to sell stories and thus support my travel habit. I'm not ruling out travel entirely but I feel extremely foolish for having, say, gone to London this year and wasted oodles of money, supposedly in the name of readings but I handled that extremely poorly. I know I cannot afford to fly anywhere just for readings or book events, because my money would be much, much better spent on promotions that reach more people. I will have to see if I can afford to visit the Bay Area as I'd planned in the spring to meet with my publishers in person and do some events, but it will have to be much more considered than my previous wasteful, haphazard arrangements.
Theater: Save for a ticket I had already bought, I'm forgoing the membership I was going to buy to The Rattlestick (mainly because I want to see Jesse Eisenberg's Asuncion, but also because I like being exposed to things I wouldn't otherwise see because I've committed to them, even when it turns out, like at Second Stage this last season, I'm not overly impressed). I do still want to continue trying to go to at least one theater show per month (hopefully going to The Lyons with my mom as a birthday present next month, but we're aiming for rush tickets), but I can't afford to pay more than $25/show. Hopefully if my finances improve this will change, as I've been lucky enough to see shows at Berkeley Rep, Seattle Rep, ACT, Rattlestick, The Public Theater, Second Stage (both theaters) and perhaps somewhere I'm forgetting this year. I love that New York has so much free and cheap comedy and other entertainment
Birth control: I know this is a hot topic this week, and will probably address is separately, but my new financial circumstances solidified my decision to forgo wasting $50/month on birth control. Why "wasting?" Well, on the rare occasion I might be having possibly procreative sex these days, I plan to use condoms. I had already decided to go off NuvaRing; my doctor said if I don't need the hormones, there's no point in adding them to my body. I did like the regulation of my period NuvaRing provided, and the added backup, and in the crazy wackadoo chance I wind up engaging in ongoing sexual activity where this might be an issue, I could conceivably (ha!) afford the $50 a month, but I'd really rather not. And while some argue that a manfriend should pay for birth control, I don't think I'd feel comfortable with that. Condoms, yes, but my birth control, not so much.