Spending Money

Jun 7, 2013 by

          In an effort to financially relax, since March, I’ve begun to allow myself to spend money. This is a revolutionary concept to me. My current spending budget is $75 per paycheque, which I receive every two weeks. Some of you may think $75 per two weeks is self-deprivation, but it’s quite the opposite. Compared to the near – and more typically, actual – $0 spending budget that I previously held myself prisoner to, I view $75 every two weeks as a gold mine. Whereas big spenders may equate this to poverty-like circumstances, I know all of the starving students out there (I’m an alumni of this unfortunate group) know the value of $75 biweekly. Evidently, perspective is relative to personal experience.

          Learning to chill my frugalness has been freeing. I can say yes to social invitations and loosen my purse strings without guilt, as long as I stay within budget, which I do. I’ve always maintained good control over my spending. My parents had me reading personal finance books at 10 years old. Whether or not they know it, I learned the value of experiences over material things by observing them. Their non-materialism taught me to be the same way. As a result, I’m not a shopper and I’m simply not tempted by new things, such as clothes, jewellery, make up, furniture, cars, etc. This is a huge factor in my ability to effectively manage my spending.

          I learned most of what I know about the value of money from being a student. I know that $10 spent on one thing could alternatively feed my roommate and I for an entire week if necessary. Although it’s not necessary anymore, I am still conscious of what it was like to be a broke, hungry university student. Survival instincts would kick in and $10 miraculously turned into seven healthy meals for two, as if we were descendants of Jesus, turning water into wine. (Note: University students don’t eat multiple meals per day. How would they pay for their tuition?) Perhaps you can see why I’m financially paranoid.

          Great news though: I’m no longer a student. Two years after graduating, it’s finally sinking in that I don’t have to live like every meal may be my last anymore, and I’m taking advantage of one of the best perks of being textbook-free: disposable income. It’s a much appreciated change in my life. More so, is allowing myself to actually use that income. Along with my mindset on everything else, when I began my happiness experiment, I knew my views on money needed to change. The result has been a much more relaxed, financially empowered version of me.

          To be honest, sometimes I don’t even spend the full $75. Old habits die hard. I still tend to do the free versions of things. For example, I’ll have water at a patio. I’m mainly at patios for the vibe, which I can get without a $12 drink in my hand. However, the difference now is that I’m happy to do the free version, because I know that I have the option to order a drink if I want one. It is the choice that gives me this sense of liberation; not the drink itself.

          Doing this may make some people feel uncomfortable when out with friends. Luckily, I’m not easily peer pressured into buying anything that I can’t afford. I have no problem going out with friends and not ordering food or drinks. I just eat before I go and drink water when I’m out. Sometimes it’s a bit awkward when out with new friends, who occasionally wrongly presume or comment that I don’t eat at all (which is annoying, because I love food), but I’ll take a tiny bit of discomfort in favour of spending my money where I want to spend it. Life is about tradeoffs. Before, my life was about nothing at all, so the tradeoffs don’t bother me a bit.

          To emphasize once again, I feel like I’m loaded! I’ve gone out more since the end of April than I have in the last four years, spending no more than $75 every two weeks. It’s been incredible! In the last two weeks alone, I’ve celebrated my half birthday, gotten drunk and went to a club for a friend’s birthday, ate pizza on a rooftop patio downtown, went to a going away party, discovered and made 100 percent healthy peanut butter and banana ice cream, experienced rain pouring down on me while laying across a train track (nerve-wracking!), finished a beloved book and started reading my latest addiction, played baseball, and fulfilled a lifelong desire to ride in a convertible. During this time, I’ve spent a total of only $33.68. Ironically, now that I have spending money, I’ve found it easier to prove to myself that I don’t need it – or at least, don’t need much of it – to have fun. Most of the things I did over the course of the past two weeks didn’t cost me anything at all.

          With $41.32 left over, combined with $21.93 of my new $75 spending allotment from today’s paycheque, I can afford a ticket to Edgefest! Could I be more of a rich bitch?! Excited! By the way, the CAPTCHA code that I had to enter to purchase my ticket online was “live life.” How appropriate! Mother Mother, The Lumineers, The Neighbourhood, and many others at Downsview Park this July? I’m so there!

Happiness Tip: Financially invest (within your means) in happiness!

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