This summer – thanks to a combination of moving cities, living in the moment and being unemployed – has been the poorest two months of my life.
I come from a family that has never had a problem discussing finances. “Money Talk” doesn’t make me uncomfortable. I have a full disclosure policy because I was taught that the best way to be financially successful is to be financially honest (and hence, realistic). Obviously my dreams that I was going to inherit five million secret drug-money dollars on my 18th birthday were a long shot. There’s no account in the Caymans for this girl.
Because of this upbringing, I have no problem disclosing to the world wide web things like “my savings account has $25 dollars in it.” My savings account does have $25 in it (or at least, it did, until I decided a bottle of wine and a wheel of Camembert were an ‘absolutely necessary purchase’). I am so tired of conversations surrounding money being a taboo. It’s bizarre. I used to think that a great friend was someone who would say “nahh, she’s no where near as pretty as you!” – now it’s someone who will say “girl, I can’t go out, I have, like, four bucks.”
I am a firm advocate for living within ones means. Which is why when I say I have no money, it doesn’t mean yeah, i’ll still come out! Vissaaa it means yeah…. no. Can’t. Why? Because I royally messed up when I was twenty and put a years worth of rent on a credit card and had to dig myself out, the hard way, and I don’t want to do that again.
Despite this, though, I have always found a way to afford my priorities. Which is where people question me. As much as I’d like to say I have parents who are more than happy to subsidize my shoe obsession and flitting about – I ruined that when they had to bail me out of the aforementioned credit card fiasco (seriously, my Mastercard statement said that if I made the minimum payment each month it would take me 74 years to pay it off. Um.. am I even going to live that long?) Of course, they would never let me starve, but they don’t go out of their way to monetarily support my spending and/or living. No, when I decided that I wanted to spend New Years in New York City, I worked for that. When I decided I simply had to go all Girls Gone Wild on Spring Break in Daytona, I worked for that. And when I decided for some absurd reason that I couldn’t possibly spend another day in the city and just had to pack up and move on, I spent every cent I had worked for on it.
But now what? Unemployment and a sorority-style drinking pattern has left me without the means to buy peanut butter, let alone run away to whatever city is next. Both my [irresponsible] choices, and both not the greatest use of income. So, I’ll tell you now what. Now what, I got a job – it’s not glamorous and it’s not going to push me into another tax bracket, but it’s a job. Now what, I deposited my first $139 paycheck that I actually sweat for and put 10% (whooo 13.90!) in my [empty] savings account. Now what, I put a label on my coin jar that says “Marc Jacobs Watch” (because mason jars are how I successfully save for frivolous purchases). Now what, I buy “Great Value” beans from Walmart for .79 a can. Now what, I lock myself in my apartment and say “no sorry” when people ask me to go to Fogg’s for a patio drink. Now what, I take extra shifts when people call in sick. Now what, I make my own coffee at home in the mornings. Now what, I commit myself to staying put for long enough to finish my degree. Now what, I work hard for my next goal, so that when I need to run away again, I can. Now what, I realize that this is just fine – that I have done my fair share of spending, and will do again – and that sometimes being young means eating a lot of cabbage and not much else.
So if you’re in one of these positions (the twenty-something, “bills to pay and nothing figured out” position), I’d like to encourage the conversation. What is money holding you back from? How are you planning on getting there? Does it stress you out or do you roll with the punches? Are you living off the bank of Mum and Dad? Student Loans? EI? Paycheck to paycheck? Minimally? Ask your Aunt what her number one money saving trick is. Ask your parents what their biggest financial regret is. And let’s all go buy a lottery ticket… because hey, you can’t win if you don’t play! (Now where am I going to find the six dollars for that…)
If you’re one of those people who has their shit figured out and isn’t living paycheck to paycheck … I’d love to hear all about what you do. I’d love to know what your tricks are. Tell me what you splurge on and what you go no-name for – just because it tastes the same. And you can tell me all of this over dinner. On you, obviously.
Waiter? I’ll have the lobster and a glass of unoaked chardonnay please. Obviously the 8oz. As if you even had to ask. Pshh.
xo & yw