Posted by: Shanna Germain | 11/04/2009

Pg. 177: Ghost Change


GhostGirl walking GhostDog through the very real night.


Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about finances, about living and traveling on next-to-no money, and what that means for a life. I’ve never believed that money bought happiness, or even ease of living. Of course, there’s such a thing is a middle ground. If you have NO money, then some money can buy you many things, including ease of living and possibly happiness. Too much, and it seems to bring with it a whole slew of issues all its own.

Right now, I’m much nearer to the no-money side at the moment than the too-much money side. This is partly the economy, partly the big changes that have happened in my life over the last year or two, and partly my own choice to pursue my life as a creative creature instead of one who continues to do a money job.

What changes, when you don’t have the money you used to? A lot, I suppose. I don’t have anything to my name, really, except for what matters most. My computer. My phone. A camera. A backpack. Some basic, travel-anywhere, semi-flattering clothes. A good suitcase. Excellent shoes (all bought, of course, when I did have money. So if there’s ever a claim for quality over quantity, this might be it, considering I’m still using and wearing all of the things I purchased at least a year ago.). The biggest thing I miss? Buying books. Ack.

Now, my finances are minimal. I don’t have a car. I don’t have a house. I don’t have a credit card bill. I don’t have much else that costs me money.

How minimal are my finances you ask? This minimal:

I buy groceries and house supplies for myself and whoever is hosting me at the moment: About $400/month.

I’m taking the bus wherever I need to go: About $60/month.

I am addicted to coffee, and I work best at a coffeeshop, thus coffee/”office rental” space: About $100/month

I pay for a gym membership at the moment, because I think prevention is the best medicine and I write and live and eat better when I work out: $30/month.

That means my spending budget is, give or take, about $600 a month. (Note: This doesn’t take into account the other stuff, like the occasional hair cut, business expenses, travel plans/flights, entertainment, etc. Those are sporadic these days, few and far between, but they still happen, they’re just not monthly. But spread them out and they probably become about $200/month.)

Which brings my total spending to around $800 per month.

Is this a lot? I have no idea, truly. And I’m sure it all depends on who you are comparing yourself to. But it’s what I can do right now. Sure, I could cut out the gym and the coffee, but I’ve done that before and I find that both of those are important to my well-being and my writing, and thus are well worth the financial cost.

How else am I saving money?

  • Hulu, which has brought me Flash Forward, CougarVille, and various other things to watch, all for free.
  • Ted, which offers free lectures from great minds around the world.
  • Pandora Radio. Free music is good.
  • I use the free internet at Starbucks while I’m there (and mooch from kind friends if they let me)
  • Couch-sitting and house sitting.
  • Walking and bussing.
  • Asking, “Do I really need or want that? I mean, really?”
  • Remembering what I really love that is free: Walking, reading, gaming, writing, laughing.

Granted, the nomadic lifestyle is not for everyone. Obviously, it can’t be. After all, who would I stay with if all of my friends were nomads? And I know I can’t do it forever. At some point, I’m going to start craving my own space, a car, something to care for besides the laptop (house plant? cat? pet rock?). When that happens, I’ll have to decide how to live, how to move forward, whether I want to continue to pursue the creative writing in the hope of sustaining myself financially or whether I want to return to the world of freelance writing.

But for now, here I am. Floating along. Remember that scene in the movie, “Ghost,” where he learns how to move things and he slides the coin along the door (I think that’s what he does; it’s been a long while since I’ve seen it.)? Well, that’s how I feel right now. I’m moving like a ghost through the world. Touching little. Barely tangible. Seeing how few waves I can make. Seeing how far off the grid I can get without losing myself totally.

It’s a unique experience, one that I’m glad to be having, glad it’s my choice and my decision. Glad to be ghostly. For a little while longer, at least.

Far and fast, s.


β€œAn idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.” ~Charles Dickens



  1. beautifully written as always…i had this kind of nomad life for many years where i steadily were traveling and nearly to never was at home…this kind of life isnt forever..but its shapes us a lot…and give us more then just freedom…

  2. Yeah, it’s such a learning experience, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t trade it for anything — and I’m pretty sure I have no idea how much I’m learning, and probably won’t for years to come.

  3. When I lived in the Caribbean I worked only for a few months in the winter and saved my $$ then housesat and traveled for the other 8 or 9 months. Worked out well, very well actually, for almost five years. They were some of the best years of my life. I learned allot, saw allot and met allot of interesting people, places and things.

    • That’s exactly the experience that I’m having! You nailed it.

  4. Hope Patrick Swayze slides a hundred-dollar bill up your door. : )

    • Woowoo! Me too, thanks πŸ™‚

  5. Seeing your photo and reading your blog made me think of a song….

    . . . .
    don’t you go
    it makes no sense
    when all your supermen
    just take away the time
    and get in the way
    ain’t it just like rain
    and love… is only heaven away

    inside you the time moves
    and she don’t fade
    the ghost in you
    she don’t fade

    psychedelic furs – the ghost in you

    • Thank you, Annie. I haven’t thought about that song in a long time!

  6. I had the same debate with myself in the late 1970’s through the early eighties when I finally became terminally self-employed.

    • Oh, yes. I had this conversation for the first time then as well. I suppose I’m just going to keep having it, aren’t I? πŸ™‚

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