The Missing Shoestring

Sep 5, 2014 by

          “You’re going to tell us if you need money, right?” my mom pressed in a stern tone last Friday.

          “Absolutely not!” I laughed. “When I run out of money, I’m coming home.” (I don’t take money from my parents. I’m an adult. I’m not their responsibility.)

          “See?” my dad turned to my mom. “She’s coming home.”

          “I don’t know,” my mom said, unconvinced. “You never know with her.”



          My taste in cities is the palette of royalty, as my places of interest are the caviar of the world. In some, apartments cost more per month than I currently clear; and after next Friday, I’ll be clearing nothing. (Not that I’m complaining. I’ll be work-free! I’m just saying; money is finite.) There’s a sense of security that comes with saving for a big trip. Even though I knew the money would eventually be spent, I was comfortable knowing it was there and growing. Soon, I’ll be depleting my fund. I’ll be spending more than I’ve ever had in my life to spend. You’d think that would feel freeing. Au contraire (Look at me, practicing French! I can also say that my name is Maria in French and incorrectly say that I can’t speak French in French, though I’m pretty sure that last bit will be perfectly clear. See what nine years of mandatory French in the Canadian education system taught me? #goldstarforthecurriculum), for a chick who knows nothing but life on a shoestring budget, it’s daunting.

          I’ll probably always live like a poor chick. No matter how much money I may eventually have, I’ll probably always live like I have next to nothing, because I know what literally having no money while also having an apartment to rent and a living to sustain is like. I don’t waste money; I know its value. Hence why I haven’t booked my flight yet. After almost tossing $459.16 away on a one-way to Paris that could have landed me right back in Toronto, I’ve been nervous to put my money on a new flight/accommodations/anything before I feel well researched on European travel. Clearly, I’ve been financially scarred by my life, so the idea of dropping the largest sum of money I’ve ever saved within the span of a few months scares the shit out of me.

          What I should really feel is empowerment. Despite getting to the point where all my bank accounts were without a single cent by month six of unemployment after quitting my last job, I came through for myself. I paid my rent and bills on time without indebting myself and without depending on anyone for money. I budgeted. I got creative. (For example, to avoid carrying a credit card balance and paying interest, I had Olivia do her 2012 Christmas shopping on my credit card, knowing she’d immediately pay it off, which made it appear to the bank like I had paid off my balance coming due in full. While her money was really paying for her recent purchases, to the bank it looked like I was paying for my previous month’s purchases, granting me time.) I picked up a couple random jobs that lasted mere weeks just to make rent. I did what I had to do. I know how to stretch a little bit of money for long-term survival, and I know when to temporarily suck up jobs I don’t want to work to make money flow. I know how to take care of myself. I don’t go crying to mommy and daddy. Parents don’t exist to pick up after their kids’ choices. My parents didn’t even know I had quit my job until long after I found another. I knew they wouldn’t be able to sleep had I told them sooner. (They’ll probably be insomniacs while I’m in Europe. They know they have a daughter who lives like she’s fearless.)

          Knowing that I have strong endurance, I should feel confident enough in my financial sense to know that I can pull myself out of any mess I may get myself in to. More importantly, I should know that I’m probably going to make some stupid financial decisions, and that’s okay. It’s my first big trip to Europe. I have everything to learn about months-long European travel. The financially responsible saving part felt comfortable because it implied stability. Stability is easy. It’s adventure that takes balls.

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