I hope this will be the last in a series of posts dealing with how to get by during tough times. You see, while I have been searching for a decent job lately, I believe I've finally found one.
Anyway, while I've been away from home looking for work, I've had to live very cheaply indeed. See my previous post about "alert status red" for more information. Once again, I'm happy to give you tried and true strategies for getting by on less -- or stealth living in a 24h society.
I know it's been done before, but the stealth issue is that I've been living out of my car. If you are forced to this level of living for a short period of time here are some ideas for you:
- Buy old fashioned (large flake) rolled oats. If you are lucky they will come in a large plastic bag that is resealable. This is your cheap, convenient and healthy food.
- Buy powdered milk because it won't go bad whether it is hot or cold.
- Buy bottled water. It's okay if it freezes, as you can melt it and use it at a later time.
- Buy plastic cups, perhaps the cheap pack of 50 beer cups, but not the styrofoam ones.
- With these items, and perhaps some chocolate powder, preferably chocolate protein powder, you have an instant snack anytime you are hungry.
Clothing is another issue. So are showers. Use the trunk of your vehicle like a closet or dresser. Have a gym bag that you will load with clothes you will change into and then simply go to a nearby 24h gym. It helps if you have a membership, but many will offer a trial membership. You can go early in the morning and then change for the day after your workout and subsequent shower. Be sure to get your change of clothes ready whenever weather permits -- as it could rain anytime and interfere with your ability to pick out a critical change of clothes for an upcoming interview.
With showers covered, and clean clothes to change into, you now need to have access to facilities. This is easy during the day if you have pocket change. You can walk into a donut shop or a McDonald's, use the facilities, and then buy some minor item on your way back out. However, you will have to find 24h services so that you are never left without the ability to use them whenever you might need to. Of course the gym will work as well, but you'll generally want to limit your visits there as you may end up working out every day in order to shower and change anyway.
Now, sleeping in the car does suck, but if you have to do it, you have to do it. You obviously must find a safe place that you won't freeze. One good place is at a gas station used by a large number of truckers. They are generally busy 24 hours a day with trucks coming and going. You can find a parking spot, curl up, sleep as best you can, and then head out to the gym the next morning to wake up and get changed. Just make sure you don't freeze to death.
If you need Internet access in order to stay connected during your travels, you have several options. Usually you can book some time at a public library. However, if you do have a laptop, you can find places that are frequented by students and see if those businesses maintain a public access network. For example, while doing laundry on the road recently I was able to connect my laptop and get online thanks to the local pizza place.
Living like this is not fun, it's not comfortable, but it is cheap. Just be careful while you are out there...