In January of 2018, Heather and I spent 12 hours transporting second hand mirrors into our tiny little shoe box studio in Manchester, Richmond. We broke one, 8 feet, but the rest made it, and we were one step closer to building the studio of our dreams. That completion of that trip on the second day of the calendar year was one of the many tiny victories we had that led up to building the business of our dreams.
After that long ass day, we went to a chain greasy spoon drive through, and split a Cheerwine Float. It was $1.99 (side note: if you don’t know what Cheerwine is, you’re missing out). We took turns sipping it and eating the vanilla ice cream in Heathers car. Dead silent. We were partly drop dead tired, partly starving, and completely broke. In fact, I had tried to convince Heather earlier that we could not afford to SPLIT a $1.99 soda float. I wasn’t having it (more side note: I keep an impeccable budget, which is sorta what this blog is about). She was paying! Not me, not the “company” we had started less than a year prior. I couldn’t fathom spending $2 of counted out change found in the car to celebrate 12 hours of labor in service to a life changing endeavor.
We reminisced over this day this past weekend, where we went all out and celebrated the end of Q2 with (ready for this?) one brownie a la mode each from the local dive bar (shout out Lakeside Tavern). It cost $4.90. So we went from spending $1.99 total to celebrate to $4.90 each in 15 months. Thats progress. This got me thinking about how I struggle to celebrate my wins because I feel bad about spending money. For one, we’re building a business. We’re broke. Second, I am a lifelong blue collar water trash from a broke urban beach town, and I have a feeling no matter how much money I earn, I will always live beneath my means because (third), after I stopped stripping, I taught myself how to celebrate with little to no money. The second you learn how to maximize satisfaction while minimizing the cost of it, you’re winning.
Stripping taught me to spend. Quitting taught me to save. It took years. I fucked myself over royally financially while dancing because I didn’t have the skills to celebrate myself on a budget. So, I’ll save you the time, and give you this list I’ve created of 5 ways to celebrate your wins without breaking the bank…and without loosing focus on the prize.
This list isn’t for big shit like graduating with your doctorate, one year without a cigarette, or getting your dream house. This list is for the mini wins that you achieve while you’re on the path to those things. They’re small affirmations that are a cheap, a simple high five to yourself while you’re broke af and chugging along to excellence.
Get the guac. But only just this once. The guac is from my friend and client Michelle who invented The Guac Metric based on a conversation we had one night about my own struggle to get by financially. Whats the guac? The guac could literally be the guac. But its actually something much bigger. Its the $1 up charge for the avocado at the burrito joint. Its getting the almond milk rather than the regular milk. Its the goddamn Cheerwine Float. Get yourself one single up charge to celebrate your mini win. Don’t make this a habit while you’re broke, though! Reserve the dollar up charge for when you are rewarding yourself.
Sexy sunset. The only thing this one will cost you is gas, unless you can walk, then its free. Ok, check it: its nice out, you’ve hit a milestone. Take yourself to the sexiest sunset spot in your city and treat yourself to 30 minutes of picturesque bliss. Keep it simple. Go to that beautiful spot, bring a cold drink you already have in your house, and take it all in.
Put on perfume. Nothing makes me feel like a million bucks more than a scent that stimulates my senses. You’ve already spent the money on that one fancy bottle that you never wear. Go ahead, put it on and wear it to the grocery store. People around will notice you, and more importantly, you’ll notice yourself. Its the olfactive equivalent to wearing lingerie under normal clothing. Try it. All it’ll cost you is a few pennies of an investment that you already made.
Wash the sheets. Wash and dry your bed sheets and put them on your bed just before its time for lights out. The feeling of warm, smell good, fresh sheets out of the dryer is better than a vacation after a long grind. I know washing sheets is technically a chore and we do it every two weeks anyway, but don’t think of it that way. Think of it as a sensory based reward for absolutely killing it. Your cost is one load of laundry and the detergent. It’ll be on your water bill, so you won’t even notice. Bonus points if you can line dry. It smells good. It feels good, and it’ll promote a restful night so you can wake up and kick the next day in the balls.
A pet treat. Yup. Buy a fancy cookie for your furry friend. Celebrate your win by showing some love to your biggest cheerleader. Trust me, they won’t turn you down. Don’t have a pet? Buy a treat for your friends dog, who listens to you bitch over wine or coffee when shit hits the fan.
Listen. Rewarding yourself, self care, and all this buzzword shit doesn’t have to break the bank. Taking care of yourself isn’t about $12 bath bombs and overpriced crystals. Its about taking a moment, high fiving yourself, then getting back out there and keeping the momentum. Also, these 5 rewards aren’t objects, so they won’t clutter up your house. Because fuck dusting.