Sunday, July 5, 2009

money, money, money, money

I've always kind of prided myself on being a non-materialistic person. I think it stems from the fact that I didn't really get a lot growing up. Not to say that I did not have everything I needed and of course, the occasional want, but nothing like some kids! In fact, when I think back to my youth, I do not remember many things that I just had to have. I think I was pretty content with playing outside or riding my bike. In fact, the things I valued the most were tiny and cheap. I could play for days with a fake plastic bug the size of a quarter. I didn't need video games or expensive toys. Mud pies, all the way!

And even into high school, I remember a good friend of mine who had a job and would spend, spend, spend. It seemed like all we ever did was go shopping (I would tag-along, not buying anything because I did not work in high school)! I hated it! I didn't really see the point in continually buying things that weren't needed. I guess I had a pretty good grasp on the whole want vs. need thing from a young age.

It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly. --Thoreau

...which is why I am confused and finding it hard to understand why that seems to be an issue now! Or, at least it's an issue in my head.

Let me paint a clear picture for everyone: compared to most people my age (or really, ANYONE at any age), I am pretty damn responsible when it comes to money. Each month, I pay my bills on time. And every check, an automatic amount goes into my savings account. So, after savings, retirement, insurance, bills, and taxes are paid, I THEN use whatever is left over for food, gas, and entertainment. Here is where the guilt comes in. For some reason, even though I have made sure to pay myself (and everyone else) first, I still feel an incredibly ridiculous amount of guilt when I spend money ON myself for things that are wants!~ I can just hear Suze Orman in the back of my head, "Nicole, you don't have an 8 months emergency fund, what are you doing spending money at the movies?? are you insane?!!"

What is this about? I think I need to give myself a freakin' break. I suppose the hardest part is seeing what everyone else is doing. Pictures on facebook of my peers going on vacations, to theme parks, BUYING HOUSES...I just sit and think, Am I doing something wrong? And then I think either they must have families that help them out financially or they are just being incredibly irresponsible. How could they all possibly have money in savings when we graduated at the same time??

I simply refuse to spend money that I do not have until I have more money in my savings account. I just can't do it!! However, I think it is a lot more difficult to be frivolous with money when you DO NOT have a stable family. I do not have parents that could help me if I get into a financial pickle. I would be screwed unless I went to my sister, but I would only do that in an extreme, extreme emergency.
In all reality, I could potentially purchase tickets to go on an awesome European trip or buy a new computer and what not, but would I enjoy eating pizza in Italy knowing when I returned that I would have absolutely nothing in case of an emergency? Or would typing on my brand new mac laptop really be worth it? My guess is a resounding NO. So yes, I am going to sit here and try my best to just enjoy going to the library or spending the day at the pool and cooking my own food instead of going out and spending money. And someday, when I finally DO have an 8 months or so emergency fund, then I will start saving for that new computer and trip somewhere.

And while right now Suze Orman is a nagging voice in my head, I know that someday I will have gratitude for that woman because I took her stupid advice to heart!! Damnit.


Susan said...

I'm the same way...I *hate* spending money, even if it's on food at the grocery store! I feel bad buying something that I "want" (like a new shirt...that's on sale...for $7) because it's not something I "need." I'm lucky in that my parents are very supportive (both financially and...not financially), so I know they would be there if I needed them, but I don't go running to them for money, and I have savings to fall back on. I save lots of money, but don't usually spend it on takes a lot for me to buy something. Most people don't have this problem, which is why people have cell phones and cable TV but can't afford healthy food. Everyone has different priorities, even if we don't agree with them.