I'm a TV writer on strike. These are the 4 ways my partner and I save money while having fun.
- My partner and I have a lot of debt when we combine both.
- As a TV writer and WGA member, I'm currently on strike and not getting paid.
My partner and I are two millennials doing the best we can with the hustle-culture anxieties we can't seem to shake off, the massive waves of a recession that we keep getting swept up in, and our combined debt of a lot — most of which are my student loans.
I'm a TV writer and WGA member, and it's been a rough few years. Work has been so sparse, and residual checks have been so small that me and roughly 12,000 others are currently on strike. My partner is a personal trainer, health coach, and small business owner. Being a service provider means that if people don't have the extra money to spend on themselves, his clientele roster reflects that.
To sum it up, money stresses us out. So my partner and I have started making an intentional effort to separate ourselves from capitalism whenever we can. Here are some little ways that we've been able to do that.
Waking up earlier
For so much of my life, I've set an alarm so that I'd wake up with just enough time to get dressed, eat a little something, and then get to work on time. By setting the alarm an hour or two earlier, our mornings now belong to us. We make fancy coffees with my milk frother. We journal. We fool around. We do things that we want to do before we do the things that we have to do.
We also don't open our email until we're ready to "clock in."
And let me be clear — we do not do this every day perfectly. It is hard to avoid our phones first thing in the morning.
Hobbies, hobbies, hobbies
First, with the pandemic, and now with the writers' strike, I have been forced to distance myself from what I do for income. There was so much security in saying, "I'm a TV writer," that I didn't think about who and what I was beyond the way that I make money. What do I do besides watching TV and writing TV? And so we've been dabbling with hobbies.
We sing. We dance. We draw. We cook. We read. We drink. We bowl. We play. We bike. We skate. We swim. We write poems. We strum the guitar. We tickle the ivories — well, we tickle the keyboard I got from Facebook marketplace.
We don't do all of these things all of the time, but we've been carving out more and more time to try and do things with our hands and with our bodies. There's something very therapeutic about doing when you otherwise feel powerless and out of control.
A combination of the news headlines, an inbox full of emails that start with "Unfortunately," and having to turn down invites because it's not in the budget can make us feel pretty powerless sometimes. Doing things that are free of monetary cost just because we feel like it or we want to has helped us feel a bit more in control of our days and, therefore, our lives.
eBay and 'Buy Nothing' groups
Whenever we need something, here are two things we try to remind each other of.
"Sure we need it, but do we need it now?"
We're all inescapably immersed in the reality of "two-day shipping." It's hard to practice patience when we're all about instant gratification. There are some things that, yes, we admittedly run to Target for or order from Amazon. But we try to fight the feeling of needing something today and wait until we find it elsewhere.
If we don't need it immediately, then it leads me to the next reminder.
"Our neighbor probably already has it."
One of the first things that my partner and I bonded over was our shared love of getting things second-hand. He's loyal to the site eBay, while I prefer to do my hunting in the "Buy Nothing" neighborhood groups on Facebook or on apps like OfferUp.
We also both love a thrift store. A tradition of ours, whenever we're in a new city or town, is to peruse a local second-hand shop. We're currently in need of an extra set of dishes. We'll keep popping into thrift spots and flea markets to find a unique set that needs a new home.
On the subject of "stuff," camping is a great way to remind yourself that you don't really need much. Food, warm clothes, shelter from the elements, maybe a book to read, and good company. And aside from the brand tags on our gear and clothes, camping provides a small sanctuary from the foggy haze of screen lights radiating and the noise of constant ads in your face.
We don't camp that often, but we do try to camp a few times a year, and between tents and yurts and campervans, there are so many different ways to do it.
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