My Pursuit of Purpose Cost Me $0 and a Broken Heart

Everyone keeps asking me why I am moving to Chicago. The answer? Love.

t began with the way love is usually portrayed: you know, those irrefutable, indescribable, uncontrollable feelings between two people. That, my heart stops beating when I hear your name, type of feeling. Feminist author and thought-leader, bell hooks describes this as cathexis. This cathexis, disguised as love, followed me all the way from South Korea and eventually led me to Chicago, a city I had always admired.

My rekindled relationship with Cathexis was (relatively) short-lived, though. In my pursuit of the relationship, I discovered something even greater. I discovered love. Around this same time, I was reading bell hooks' (2000) trilogy on love, where she defines love as, "the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth" (p. 10). I remember the turning point for me: I was on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center drinking a glass of Pinot Noir, literally overlooking all of Chicago. In that moment, Cathexis and I abandoned our relationship with one another, and a love for myself, one that I had fought so hard to get (thank you, childhood bullies), deepened. My spiritual growth was far more important than Cathexis or any watered-down version of a relationship. I began doing the work to, once again, make my way back to my healed space. I reminded myself that my purpose and my love of self was just as good of a reason to move to Chicago as any other. In a matter of three nights and two days, I (miraculously) put my own pieces back together.

The more pieces of me I found, the more purpose I desired. The only way to satisfy that craving was to pursue purpose unapologetically. And I did. I am. When I was uprooting my life (which wasn't really uprooting because, well, I've been a nomad for the last 2+ years) in pursuit of a relationship, the supporters were boundless. The moment I decided to call Chicago my new home in pursuit of purpose, in pursuit of me, supporters withered away and doubters came rushing in. "How are you going to finance this move when you've been volunteering around the world for the last 6 months?," they asked. "You have no job lined up, but you have loan payments and bills," they said. Yes. All of this was true, but what was even truer was a love I'd discovered for my purpose... for my complete well-being. After many prayers, tears, and sacrifices, I was confident that my success was wrapped up in Chicago and I was (am) determined to be much more intentional about my life. Just as I did when I decided to move to South Korea after a summer fellowship there, I reminded myself that "all I need is faith and a plane ticket™."

Here's how my faith got me a one-way ticket to Chicago for no additional cost:

First, I made a mental note to take the money for my student loan and other bills off the top of any additional earnings. Once I had all of my financial responsibilities for March covered, I utilized the rest of the money strictly for my move. 

My secret to making money is finding money that already exists. This meant returning any unused items and selling the unwanted ones. What an amazing spiritual and physical shedding process this was! 

eBay and local consignment shops quickly became my best friend. After clearing out my own closet, I reached out to family members and asked them to do the same "as a donation in support of my move." It cost them no extra money and helped them dispose of things that were just taking up space. Win-win! I made $508 from items that none of us wanted or used anyway!

I even visited a jeweler to get a quote for my old jewelry, but wound up making more money on eBay. Having the jeweler's appraisal actually helped buyers realize the worth of my pieces (Ladies, let God be the appraiser of your worth and stop giving your jewels to these men prematurely - but that's another post for another day).

The money I earned was used to cover my student loan and bills. The remaining cash flow purchased my brand new Food Network cookware set that cost me $0.95 - $2.43 an item, along with my Food Network flatware that cost me a whopping $2.44. Yes, you read that correctly. But again: another post, another day.

I sold a few products that I handmade to people in my community and flipped the cash to pay for additional parts on my titanium Saladmaster food processor. 

Although I bought 3 extra parts, I received the brand new, titanium food processor, wok, and baking sheet all for free! The manufacturer even shipped them straight to Chicago for me so I could avoid additional shipping costs!

Saladmaster 316Ti Food Processor

Saladmaster 316Ti Food Processor

Now, what to do with the things online shoppers and consigners don't want? Have a garage sale! I had three, two-hour, sales over the course of a month to clear out the final items. I even started pre-selling my items to neighbors the night before or morning of my sales! In total, I made $356. That's $59 an hour!

This money was used to pay to ship my two boxes to Chicago (talk about shedding!). I weighed each box and took the measurements at home and shopped around online to see which shipping agency would be cheapest. I then bought some necessities for the move and splurged on some new workout shoes from the Nike Outlet. Even after this, I still had money leftover!

Ever heard of ecoATM? Again, I called on family and friends and asked them to give me any old cell phones they had. I took those to the ecoATM kiosk and received cash on the spot. Most of the phones were so old that I ended up recycling them, but I made $36. Hey, that's $36 more than what I started with and any contribution is a great one. I once heard The Budgetnista say, "many drops of water does a mighty river make."

In California (and a few other states), you get a $0.05 refund for every can and bottle you recycle. Glass gets you a bit more. It seems like nothing, but I've received up to $40 for doing something that I was going to do anyway! After gathering cans, I only had about 1.5 bags worth of recyclables, but it earned me $13.69. 

I put that little money together and paid off the last bit of a credit card I have. 

How'd I pay for my plane ticket? Good question. I used points from trips I've taken in the past and airline credit I'd accumulated for trips I forfeited. I didn't even have to pay extra for the two checked bags! Airline loyalty pays.

By now, I'm confident you get the point. While all of this was only steps 1 and 2 to making my move possible, they were some of the most crucial steps. Crucial, not because of the money it yielded but, because of the freedom it produced. Shedding myself of physical and emotional baggage, made room for the thing I need the most: purpose.

...and that's what this is really all about: my journey in purpose, on purpose.

Danielle Lyles Barton