Monday, November 15, 2010

It gets awkward

One of the big drawbacks to living a frugal life is the near-constant thought of money. I'm getting used to that, it's becoming routine, but tied in with that is the near constant appraisal of other's money--does anyone else do that? I'm not saying that I do it in a malicious or envious way, but when I know approximately how much people make, I find myself wondering how do they afford this?

I don't know if this is something I just started doing on my own, or if it's a reaction to things people have said to me, but it's there. I used to work with a kid who was an avid video gamer. I have nothing against people who play a lot of video games, but it's not something I really choose to do with my time. What bothered me, was when he started making snarky comments about my travels and how lucky I was that my parents paid for all these life experiences for me.

In the interest of full disclosure, yes, my parents did pay my college tuition for four years and that four years included a semester abroad and a grand tour of Europe, but by the time video gamer and I were having this conversation, I was completely cut off from all parental financial support. I was paying all my own bills, taking out loans for grad school and funding all travel adventures myself. When I was in High School, I traveled as much as I could and paid for all of it with money I earned myself. I don't think my parents even gave me spending money. I've been working since age fifteen, buying all my own clothes and extras but I was lucky enough that my parents were willing to pay for college (then I went to grad school twice and took out an obscene amount of loans).

When he made that remark, I looked him square in the eye and said, "You just bought three DVD sets from me for $60 and barely blinked. How much do you spend on DVDs and video games per week?"

He thought for a moment and shrugged, "I don't know, maybe $100? depends on the week."

If he would stop buying video games for six weeks, that would save him more than enough for my most recent trip to Vegas. If he quit buying video games for three months, that's a trip to England.

I've had a lot of people look at the way I live my life, and assume that I'm heavily subsidized by my parents, which is something that I really don't appreciate, but I guess if I'm taking a positive approach to veiled insults, it means that it looks like I'm doing a lot with very little. Of course, if these people knew me better, they would have seen my coupon organizer and heard me rave about the great deal I just got on yogurt, so it's not like I'm masquerading as a fancy person.

I save, and splash out on the things I really enjoy. I'm lucky now that I'm finally making enough money to bolster my savings account more than before, but just because my income has gone up, doesn't mean I'm really doing anything else differently. There will always be something to save for, and there will always be a reason to keep myself in check and not get carried away at Target (which I did a little today, but I got a great deal on socks). The more you own, the more your stuff owns you, and I just don't want that kind of burden. Save your money, and buy independence.

1 comment:

  1. I think it's close to impossible to not get carried away at Target. What is it with that store??

    I agree with you on this. People who spend a lot and don't make a lot will suffer in the long run. They probably aren't putting money away in savings and are buying way more stuff than they actually need.

    I think that even if you are putting money away for a trip or something else large rather than for a house, a new car, retirement, etc, you are still getting into the habit of saving money which will be so helpful in the long run. People who buy for instant gratification or spend a lot on not-so-important things are headed for trouble at some point.

    But that's just my opinion.