Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Best Things in Life Aren't Free

I want it, and I want it all right now.


Fashion stuff, household stuff, stuff I don't even need or would know what to do with. Bring it on. My 101 list said I had to be debt free within 3 years and I have over 29 months left. Laughable. Bring. It. On.*

The thing is, normally I am quite the thrifter. Not by choice, but by survival. Even at twenty eight I am not beyond living paycheque to paycheque. It's become more of a lifestyle than anything. Living by myself equals rent, utilities, student loan payments, car insurance, food, credit and survivalist bills. This leave me with very very little bling to fiddle with, and the day to day necessities like coffee, and the occasional cheesecake or sushi date (any financial advisor that tells me these are not necessities can cram it) tend to eat it up.

I'm usually the one that can't afford stuff. Wait, let me correct that, I'm still the one that can't afford that stuff. Redheads tend to look good in green, and the green I usually wear is envy of friends who can afford frivolous and fancy things.Tech things. Shoes things. Purse things. Concert things. All a sounding board for me to be jealous of you. But suddenly with age, it's like a certain amount of vanity and entitlement has kicked in.

I feel like a failure when at twenty eight there are people my age that own nice cars, houses, have travelled extensively, and can buy nice clothes knowing that they don't need to stress about it. It's not fair to pin your life against anyone else's as we all have different paths, but at a certain point it's hard not to take a look around and see that I don't measure up. I don't regret the choices I have made as going to school in a different town and paying for it with student loans/waitressing jobs made me a stronger person, I just wish it wasn't still biting me in the ass with diamond encrusted teeth.

I don't wanna live in a student's apartment anymore, filled with makeshift tupperware end tables. I want a big bed with 300 thread count sheets and jewellery to go with outfits that match. I want to shop at a thrift store cause I want to not because I have to. I want to be able to get my eyebrows waxed without the consumer guilt kicking in (although really it's not laziness, it's essential. I can't draw a straight line much less pluck hair in a shaping motion). I want a gorgeous balcony with a quaint bistro and BBQ, not winter tires and a hand me down plastic chair set. Right now I could easily name twenty things I WANT off the tops of my head and could realistically justify them all to myself.

Of course as much as I have a hard on for all things material right now and could easily be portrayed as a slightly less popular Sophie Kinsella novel character, I don't want to slide down the slippery slope of debt. I watch shows like 'Til Debt Do Us Part' and want to shake the people in it as it's petty, immature and reckless behavior that has gotten them into those messes in the first place. It doesn't take a psychologist to realize that I am trying to validate worth through "things" to make up for certain life expectations not met at this age. And validation through finance is a dangerous game to play. Spending outside your means is a deliberate choice, plain and simple.

This isn't just a post to bitch and kvetch, even though I'm good at it, and could probably make a whole blog of whining, but to see if anyone else is in the same place. Do your wants sometimes out weight the logic of savings? How do you curb the cravings for Stuff? How does one start to become financially secure while trying to gain as they move into a more adult lifestyle? Any tips on how to come into my own economically without fisting my credit card? Some insight, tips, or just people relating so I know this is Normal would be muchly appreciated.

Same with a million dollars.

*By debt I don't mean student loans. Student loans are like the herpes of debt and shall stay with me for life with occasional flare ups of interest.


Tricia said...

Really the only thing I can say is you have to find a way to make more money! :) At 28 I was in much the same pickle - too much debt and not enough salary. I had a decent job but definitely lived paycheck to paycheck. My kindly grandfather bailed me out of the CC debt and I paid him back over the course of 4 years. He saved me literally. I thought I'd never do it again. But then my husband became unemployed in 2004 and we racked up some CC debt and we didn't get it paid off and then he became unemployed again in 2008 (this time for good) and we have racked up more CC debt. It's a hard thing to get out from under.

Some thoughts - if you have more than one card - pick the smallest one and work on paying it off first paying mins on the others. Then when it's paid close it. Pick the next smallest one, etc. And unless it is a true life and death emergency don't use a card to pay for ANYTHING. :)

It is possible - once the CC debt is gone you will feel a huge weight lifted.

Also if you don't have opportunities for advancement in your current job and you have been there several years it might be time to consider a move - typically I have picked up at least 10% raises with each job move.

Mike said...

Get a better job.


Maybe make grilled cheese sex a paying job? I'd pay.

I bought my house at 27 and was in a bitch of a trouble the next while after.

I made some lifestyle changes (no sports car, quit smoking) and now, 4 years later, I'm doing ok.

Not bling bling ok but I'm finally financially able to do stuff like finish a room in my basement. Not great, still can't travel but I got a money buffer in the bank and what the hell, life's good cuz I'm not stressing about money.

Anonymous said...

Stumbled across this in my own quest for pretty things and extra bling.

Racquel Valencia said...

I so feel you! My friends are buying houses, treating themselves to trips across the country, designer clothing... and it's not even that they have more money than me, they just have an easier time justifying it than I do.

I've been keeping myself on a cash-only budget for over a year now. Like, I withdraw $100 at the start of each week and that's it, that's all. It's about as much fun as it sounds... and doesn't even work. I should really destroy my credit cards.

Paula said...

I am always living from one monthly wage to another too, and struggle cos I love to buy stuff. But I don't tend to be into buying high quality expensive stuff (unlike my little sis, who earns twice as much as me!) so I just about manage to live on what I earn and still buy a lot of things! result!!!

Nick said...

Simple solution:

Steal from people.

Melissa W said...

LOL, great suggestion Nick.

On a serious note, I have always thought they should teach a money management class in high school. Of course I think we would all have more money if we wouldn't have spent so much on booze and smokes during University.

Jamie said...

I feel like I'll never get ahead. I need a new job and financial stability so bad.

Random Musings Of My Life said...

1. I think you are SUPER SMART

2. I think you are OFFICIALLY and adult.

3. I heart you.

Being that the hubby and I when we got married (6 years ago almost) we "thought" we needed EVERYTHING!! Good will was not an option for furniture, Tv ect.

And we have the debt to prove it. AND IT SUCKS ASS!! I mean REALLY bites. We paid off 2 last year and only have 7 more to go!! And we are not talking $700 balances.. Its stressful.

But we have a plan. I have started my own business (little start up) and I am plugging away. All commissions will go towards debt and nothing shiny and sparkly till its paid.

My time line is Christmas. Which is also when my company buys me my White Mercedes. For a job I work part time. Its fabulous!

So I am taking my STUBBORN trait and putting it to good use. I AM GOING TO PAY THIS SHIT OFF FOR GOOD!! Then I am going to travel the world!

Anonymous said...

FYI- Do NOT close or cancel a credit card. Ever. It puts a negative mark on your credit report because it implies that you can't handle it. All advisors will tell you that the best thing to do is pay it off and simply cut up the card. Leave it with a 0 balance until it expires.

Also, when choosing which card to keep, if you have more than one, always select the card that you've held for the longest. If the interest rate is higher, just call and ask for a lower one. It may cost you a $20 annual fee but it is SO worth it for what it can save you in interest charges.

Meghan said...

Tricia-I've been debating bartending again on the side for residual income.Good CC tips, so thanks!

Mike-"Maybe make grilled cheese sex a paying job? I'd pay."...I may be a floozy but I'm not a whore! :P

Anonymous- thanks, great website.

Racquel- the cash only is a good idea, but I find either way it burns waaaay too fast.

Paula-discount shopping means getting even MORE stuff. Score!

Nick- LOL. You're brilliant. And onto something.

Melissa- I swear we'd both be homeowners right now with what we spent in college on booze and smokes. Ahhh, hindsight.

Jamie- lets start a business together. Something to do with the internet and cute stuff. Like animals.

Random Musingbs-it sounds like you have a savvy debt management plan that is going to be rewarding in the end. Good for you for sticking to it. I'm going to try to follow suit :)

Kelsey-thanks for the heads up, muchly appreciated. I was about to cancel one paid off card. And shall talk to bVISA tomorrow about the interest rates. You're awesome.

LiLu said...

"I feel like a failure when at twenty eight there are people my age that own nice cars, houses, have travelled extensively, and can buy nice clothes knowing that they don't need to stress about it."

I often wonder if I'll ever get to this point... it sure doesn't feel like it. *Pokes at Grey Cloud of Debt overhead glumly.*

Jack said...

I'll be honest and admit that for the first time in my life, I am more or less in a position to buy the things I crave. But in reality, the cravings aren't as big a deal when you know you can have these 'things'. And that's exactly what they are - 'things'. They'll be outdated and useless in no time at all. Keeping up appearances is very expensive and I don't recommend it at all.

My best advice, is to sit down and take your monthly pay, and write that figure at the top of a piece of paper. Note all your outgoings over the next month.

Then start to look at each of these and figure out which ones truly are fixed and which ones can be cut back on. It sounds really obvious and a bit of a cliché, but when you sit and look at what you are spending your money on, it's far too easy to fritter it all away on dumb stuff.

Once your fixed outgoings are nailed down, put aside an amount right away - into a savings account. Even a small amount like $50-75 is a good start. If it's gone before you start spending, you'll not miss it.

Now, with what you have left over, split it up into weekly allowances, take the cash out, and live within that amount and withdraw no more funds. Anything left over, bonus - shove that into savings.

Hard to get going, but once you see your funds accumulating, you'll get so much better at it.

I should be quiet now really.

Slyde said...

dont beat yourself over things you want.

ive found it helps me to really just focus on 1 or 2 kinds of things that i want to splurge on, and really forget about the rest. For me, i love having the latest in televisions and computer stuff. I always have the latest kind of television or newest computer gizmo, but that shit costs money, yo, so i scimp on other things.

its all about having enough to get by, and enjoying all the rest...

Bruce said...

Do what all my ex-girlfriends have done. Start looking for a sugar daddy to pay the bills in exchange for a-hem, some personal favors. It is like legitimized prostition.

Sreioulsy, material wealth is over rated. It is like a hunger that is never satisfied.

Meghan said...

Lilu- at least buy a cute umbrella for that nasty rain cloud.

Jack- thanks for the advice.I should listen to people, not in debt rather than silently hate them. And welcome!

Slyde- Same, technology and things with buttons will always be my financial achilles heel.

Bruce- my comment to Mike applies here as well.

Lad Litter said...

You could try ebay - and become a specialist in buying and selling (at a profit) a particular type of item. I have a mate who makes about 60% of his income through buying, cleaning up and selling above ground swimming pools. Probably not suitable for you (or your climate!) but if you could think of something that would fit, something you might already have some expertise in well, you never know.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

28 or 48...the more you make the more you spend.

Money and stuff don't solve problems, they just make them more tolerable. People with money lust for "things" too. They just lust for more expensive things.

And everybody worries about keeping up with the Joneses.
At 28, to be educated, employed and making it, albiet pay check to pay check, (witch we all do from time to time) says a lot about your work ethic and who you are.
You are young and you have plenty of time to figure it out, and someday a partner to share it with. The lessons you are learning now, can't put a price tag on that.

ms. bliss said...

I want to not have to struggle financially anymore too...wahhhhh