I just finished this delightful book that a blog reader recommended to me on Goodreads: Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod. Have you heard of it? It came out just last year, thus adding to the growing collection of Paris-themed memoirs out there for us Stateside-bound dreamers!
In the book, Janice describes her draining work as a copywriter in L.A. and her growing desperation to escape. Through regular journal writing, she finally decided to save up $100 a day for a year and then quit her job, travel the world, and figure out a new way to pay her bills and live her life.
You should read it to find out the details, but it all works out incredibly well for Janice. She meets a James Bond look-a-like in Paris, falls head over heels in love, figures out a thriving Etsy shop business selling hand-painted letters (check it out), and the rest — she writes — is history.
I found the whole story fun as well as inspiring, and the most inspiring part was how she made her dreams come true. She figured out how she could afford to quit her job for at least a year, and she calculated that would require saving about $100 a day for one year. At the back of the book, she wrote an exhaustive list of all the things she did to either save up or not spend $100 a day for a year. I loved the thriftiness and practicality of the list. I mean, who of us doesn’t want to quit our day job and have enough cushion to travel the world and paint/write/blog/create? (Or would you just like to end your year with $100 x 365 = $36,500 more dollars than you planned? Which is actually a great idea for all of us!)
Here are a few things Janice did, as recorded in her book:
1. Canceled my television service.
2. Sold my television. Saved money and time.
3. Used up my samples from Sephora.
4. Used up the creams that were just so-so before I repurchased my favorite.
5. Sold everything I didn’t use on a daily basis on Craigslist and eBay.
6. Invited friends out for hikes, coffees, or frozen yogurt rather than wait until they invited me to pricey dinners.
7. Used up my running shoes. I had enough with enough zip to get me through the year.
8. Drank all the tea in my house before buying more. Oh lordy, I had a lot of tea.
9. Ordered a small coffee instead of a latte. It would have been cheaper to make coffee at home, but less social.
10. Said no to dinners at restaurants.
11. Stayed home at night and painted instead.
13. Did my own nails with all the polish I already bought.
14. Accepted gifts from people. Strange, but the more I released, the more I received gifts, largely in the form of free meals and stationery.
15. Got a cheaper phone plan.
16. Searched my medicine cabinet before I went to the pharmacy. What I needed was usually there.
17. Stopped falling for coupons. You know what’s cheaper? Not buying at all.
18. Took care of unfinished business instead of ignoring it and going shopping instead.
19. Spent all my coins. The bigger your coin jar, the bigger your coin collection.
20. Cashed in all my free coffees from loyalty cards.
21. Listened to all the music I already had in my collection. There was so much I didn’t know I already had.
22. Convinced my family to not get each other big Christmas gifts. Instead we got each other a small stocking stuffer. It was delightful, and no one missed the lack of presents.
23. Used up all the half-filled journals I already had around my house.
24. Popcorn popped on the stove.
25. Welcomed overnight guests into my home. Strange, but they basically fed me half the time out of gratitude for the free place to stay, and I was delighted to see them.
Have you done some of these things already? I try to do some of them, but I need to work on others, like using up all my coins (such a good idea) and taking care of unfinished business before starting something new. Actually, Janice’s section on finishing her “unfinished business” was amazingly inspiring. She finished all the paintings she had started, did her taxes in March instead of on April 14, sent all her half-finished letters, and used her expensive health insurance to get her annual physical, dental exam, and eye exam. Her goal was “finish my unfinished business by the end of the calendar year,” and that got her cracking on projects that might otherwise have sat around her house for years.
I love this idea. I have a thousand items of unfinished business all over my house. Especially after my sister died, I thought about trying to tie up loose ends now so there wouldn’t be a lot of unfinished things if I died suddenly… but time has gone by and there is plenty I could finish. Like organizing our files before tax season, tidying the garage (again! I already did it once after this post!), finding the mysteriously missing car registration sticker, clearing out and selling all the clothes the kids have outgrown, and so on and so forth.
Which is your favorite suggestion on this list? If you haven’t already, are you going to read Paris Letters now? ;)
P.S. Check back tomorrow for a lovely letter and an exciting bit of news from Janice MacLeod herself! I just got an email from her and decided it deserved a post of its own. I’ll share it on Friday morning!