I love being crushed under crippling student loans. Who ever thought of suffocating middle class students with debit before they could legally have a drink should probably get a medal.. because dreams are for trust-fund babies.
But being healthy and not bankrupt shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.
I’m a broke, recent graduate, who’s living on her own in China and I’m in the best shape of my life. If I can do it, then so can you. Here’s how.
1. Stop Buying Alcohol At Bars/Clubs
Said no one ever. But seriously. Get drunk at home like every other respectable middle-aged man or women in the corporate rat-race. Perpetual raging is bad for your health and wallet. If you’re throwing down $10-$15 a drink, 4 drinks later, you just racked up a tab of 60 bucks! If you’re a recent grad, I’m guessing your body can still R&R (rage and recover) relatively well, so nothing is stopping you from doing this 3 to 4 times a week. $240 later… you’ve also consumed roughly 2,448 calories of regular beer, or 1,552 calories of distilled spirits, or 2,000 calories of wine. That’s $960 and almost 10,000 EMPTY calories a month! I don’t know about you, but I’m more vain than I am thirsty.
2. Invest In Sleep
You know what’s awesome? Free stuff. I’ve seen my peers tackle people to the floor for a free shirt, but for some reason, we don’t put the same type of dedication into our sleeping schedule. The relationship between sleep loss and weight gain is a strong one. Stop pretending like it’s not. As an adamant believer in “Eff it-YOLO,” I need my body to be in tip-top-shape in order to run away from potential kidnappers in Thailand, wind surf in the Philippines, and crush CrossFit programs in China. Also, if I come home earlier (like 2am) then I am less likely to blow my money on midnight junk food or get ripped off by cabs. It’s really that easy.
3. Buy Green Things
Let me break it down step-by-step for people who continue to be confused. When you roll up into the super market, head straight for the vegetable section first. I’m sure your recent diploma has sharpened your deductive reasoning skills enough to identify what is green and what is not. Approach the “green thing,” pick it up, ascertain whether or not it satisfies the following criteria: is this green? If the answer is “yes,” put it in your basket. Walk directly to the checkout aisle. Pay. Leave.
Most millennials know that fruit is good for you, blah blah blah, but fruit also has a ton of sugar and can get expensive fast. We know about tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes, but dark green vegetables continue to be daunting to young adults because we don’t exactly know what do to with them. Do we eat them raw? Can we microwave this? Will this taste good in a cocktail? Youtube or Google how to cook green vegetables. It’s really that easy. Plus, you pay per pound and your dollar is able to stretch farther without your pants doing the same.
Author’s Tips: Donate all of the “crap” and processed foods in your pantry to a local shelter. This way, you can only drunk-eat raw vegetables at home when your self-control goes out the window at 4am. Also, get your sober self to hide the delivery menus before you hit the club. It’ll be a fun game for you to play when you come home.
4. Go Outside
A gym membership isn’t cheap and running on a machine is incredibly boring. Try joining free/cheap co-ed league instead! It gets you moving and helps you meet people in your immediate neighborhood. Ignore everything you were taught as a child and don’t be afraid to build relationships with these strangers. This way, if you’re ever lacking motivation, these new fit friends will be more inclined to blow up your phone until you drag your ass to volleyball practice after work.
It’s also a great way to hit on random dudes… “I TOO have a smart phone… we should probably exchange numbers.”
5. Eat Real Food
A pound of sugar is TECHINCALLY fat free. It blows my mind that companies are allowed to label their processed garbage as “fat free” or “sugar free,” when in reality, they’re just substituting in foreign chemicals to satisfy the criteria necessary to be put on the shelves. Buy real food. This is a squash. That is an avocado. This is salmon. That is beef.
What is Aspartame? What is saccharin? Or acesulfame potassium? All of these chemicals are unnatural sweeteners that offer zero nutritional value, but still remain on the FDA-approved list. Screw you FDA. I hope you get fat.
6. Switch to Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
IBR payments are based off of your current income and family size, and thus, IBR can decrease your monthly payment significantly. While it extends the repayment period, if you continue to carry some debt after 25 years (and meet certain requirements), chances are some of your remaining balance might be canceled! It’s a gamble, but it’s a resource nonetheless. Read more about it here. This is my plan: after I crush Chinese in next two years (fingers crossed), I plan to go to business school and study international trade so I can continue my nomadic ways, but in a far more comfortable way. This is when I plan to really focus on my loans. But for now, I would rather take the interest hit and do what I love, than continue to live as a prisoner. The world is about more than just the hustle.
7. Drink More Water
Shut up and just do it.
Ye Mao Zi Photography (夜猫子摄影)
Aaron Berkovich is one of my personal friends and long-time supporters. He believed in my dreams before it was cool.
He’s been shooting in Beijing for the later year and by photographing travel, parties, people, and food, his intimate images allow him to share his own journey with like-minded people. Like his page here.