As someone who has owned and relied upon having access to a car since pretty close to my eighteenth birthday, living without one always seemed like the isolating stuff of nightmares. To be fair, for many of those years, i truly did rely upon having access to a car.
For getting to university
For visiting family and friends.
See, I grew up beyond the public transport network, and when I started working, I kept odd hours moving between my various jobs, adventures, and schools.
So learning how to really thrive as a somewhat functional adult without a car at my constant disposal has been quite the adventure.
As I'm approaching my thirty-second birthday, I'm sharing some of the most valuable things I've discovered (many as a result of some major fuck-ups, and other setbacks) over the past year in adjusting to life without a car.
Plan Ahead, Be Prepared, and Be Punctual.
Thankfully, The Kitteh Palace is extremely accessible by public transport, so there have been very few occasions where I've been adversely effected by not having a car. That said, it has forced me to be far better organised, and to leave home earlier than I would have done previously. This means being familiar with timetables, planning my trips the night before, and setting reminders on my phone so I'm not racing out the door at the last second.
Living in Melbourne means expecting that the weather can (and probably will) turn from fine and sunny, to a windswept, flash-flood inducing thunder storm at any moment. As such, having an umbrella, a pair of sunglasses, a tube of sunscreen, and a scarf in my bag at all times is a must (and if things happen get really awful, there's always uber or SheBah!).
The Upsides of travelling by foot, or by public transport mean more time for listening to podcasts, audiobooks, or playlists - as well as writing.
Fun Fact, I wrote the whole of my last blog post on my while sitting on a tram listening to thunderstorm recordings on Spotify.
I've also increased the number of kilometres I walk every day by a huge amount - purely through incidental exercise.
Bus delays, cancelled trams, or missed trains are reasonably likely events that can't really be helped, so I aim to leave home at least one trip earlier than I need to. This way I always arrive with time to go for a walk (or grab a coffee) before I'm due to be anywhere. This helps me dodge the anxiety of running in late to work, a coffee date, or an appointment feeling stressed and apologising for having kept people waiting.
Subscribe and Automate.
The best thing I've learned this year has been the art of setting and forgetting. Here are a some of my current favourite things for making life feel a little less shit-balls hectic.
Book and keep regular appointments
This one might seem really simple, but it's made a big difference for me. Before walking out of the hairdressers, I book my next appointment, and I make sure that I stick to it. As I've been growing my hair out for a couple of years now, it might seem really tempting to just let it go and just opt for a solid chop every six months. In fact, it's so tempting, that I actually did that while I was between stylists, and to be honest, dropping money on a haircut just wasn't a priority for a lot of that time.
The result was that I lost a considerable amount off the length of my hair in split ends, and had been feeling shit about my hair for months in the lead up.
Since having my Bettie-Bangs cut back in, I haven't really had much choice - other than to maintain regular appointments for a quick trim, and so unless something majorly important comes up, I'm sure to show up bright and early. The other bonus is that I really enjoy visiting my salon, and I always feel better for having been.
On that - it's really important to respect you stylist's time. If you need to cancel for a scheduling conflict, be sure to do so as early as possible. And for crap-sake, unless it's an emergency don't just not show up. The time your stylist, beauty therapist, doctor, or counsellor book for you, is time and money they can't get back if you decide either cancel at the last minute, or don't show up.
A Rad Bitch gotta eat!
While I love cooking, I have always sucked at both menu planning and batch cooking. I also dread having to either stop for groceries on my way home, or make an extra trip to the shops after getting home to discover that the fridge is bare. Add in the prospect of public transport hauling home bag loads of groceries by tram, and you can pretty much guarantee I'll be ordering burgers or bento boxes instead.
Subscribing to HelloFresh* has meant that we receive a weekly box full of pre-portioned ingredients to cook three nom-worthy veggie meals for two, delivered to our doorstep. The meals take roughly half an hour each to cook, and the recipes are clear and easy to follow. Even Jordan (who seriously dislikes cooking) has whipped up some really yummy dinners when I've been running late.
Not only are we saving money by not ordering take away as often, but I'm also seeing less food go to waste. We're making far fewer last minute trips to the shops to grab that one ingredient we're out of (and not spending more money on the five other things we may or may not need while we're there!), and most importantly, we're really happy with the meals we've received.
If you haven't tried them out before, and would like to receive $30 off your first delivery, simply check out the link above.
(If you find it's not for you, then you can pause or cancel your HelloFresh subscription at any time. *I may receive a $30 referral bonus from HelloFresh should you make a purchase via this link.)
But what about The Kitteh's?
Okay, so finding a solution to having a constant supply of food (and kitty litter) in the house has taken us a number of hit and misses. Our biggest challenge has been finding a pet supply store who offer affordable prices AND who don't rely on Australia Post to deliver their packages. There are few online shopping experiences more frustrating than paying a ridiculous amount for shipping, and then having to send your boyfriend to the post office and have to wheel home 40 kilograms worth of pet supplies on a trolley!
Like with HelloFresh, I'm SO excited to have discovered Pet Circle that I've been telling everyone I know how great it is! Not only do they stock all the major brands of pet food and supplies (including vet prescribed foods), but they ship via a courier with a 'Leave at Door' policy so I don't have to stress about missing them!
Even better, is that they offer automatic scheduled deliveries, making it virtually impossible for us to run out of cat food, or kitty litter ever again!
You should give a crap!
Much like running out of kitty litter, running out of toilet paper sucks. Not anymore, thanks to Who Gives A Crap who offer scheduled or one off delivery of tissues, toilet paper, and paper towels. All of their products are 100% sustainable, made using either recycled paper, or forrest friendly bamboo. Being extra rad humans, they also donate fifty percent of their profits to Water Aid - so, "for every roll of toilet paper you buy, you’re helping to provide someone with access to a toilet for roughly one week."
Get into Micro-Investing
Sometime last year I signed up for this micro-investment app called Acorns*, which automatically rounds up my purchases to the nearest dollar, and invests the difference on my behalf. It also allowed me to put away a set amount of money at set intervals.
Even though the dividends for micro investments were tiny in the short term, using Acorns meant that I was able to save money in a way that I've never been very good at before. The round ups, and regular small automatic investments I had set up made such a minuscule difference to my bank balance day to day, that I didn't even notice the money was coming out until I realised how much I'd saved.
Since then, Acorns have partnered up with a whole bunch of brands and online stores with their "found money" feature, which rewards you with bonus investments for shopping via the app. They've also added features that help you track and project your spending, and measure your carbon footprint based on your monthly activity.
I've recently started using the app again, and if you want to give it a go too, it would be rad if you joined using this link, we will both get $2.50 towards our Acorns accounts*.
Simplify your period
Look, I know heaps of people who swear by their Diva Cups, but if you're someone who prefers to use pads, then Tsuno have got you sorted with their environmentally sustainable, body-friendly, feel good pads. Just like Who Gives A Crap, they also offer a subscription service. And being rad people, they donate fifty percent of their profits in support of women and girls experiencing poverty. I first learned about Tsuno over on Instagram, and kicked some money towards their organic tampon crowdfunding 'tampaign'.
Does all of this mean I've magically figured absolutely everything out now?
I'm still growing, learning, adapting and healing.
The truth is that nobody ever hits a well defined point where we somehow have all our shit sorted into neatly labelled and packed boxes - and that's especially true for those of us whose anxiety likes to metaphorically pull all our shit back out of said boxes and throw it at the walls while we're looking the other way!
But these are some of the more practical changes I've implemented in the way I live my life, that have helped to make the day-to-day things run far more simply - even when it feels as though shit is all over the place.
I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
Which areas of your life have you set up to run with minimal effort or input, and how does it help you?