Thursday, October 22, 2009

On "why being a grown-up sucks sometimes."

Being a grown-up really sucks.

Don't get me wrong, I love being an adult. I like taking care of myself, I like cooking and cleaning for myself . . . I even like the whole paying bills bit (somewhat) because it reminds me of my freedom -- I am supporting myself, I am making my life as comfortable as I can.

But sometimes, it really stinks. The whole budgeting thing is something I still feel like I'm getting used to . . . and part of the reason why I wish my parents had decided to give us allowance as kids. (They always had the mindset of, "if you need it, we'll find a way to make it happen" . . . as well as trying their best to make sure we had what we wanted as well, to some degree.) I feel like not having been given an allowance, not being allowed to have an after school job in high school has somehow contributed to bad financial habits. But I know I'm not the only one.

Example: A friend of mine grew up not knowing what having an allowance was like, not learning firsthand about spending money wisely and didn't immediately grasp that having a debit card is NOT like having a credit card. Within a few weeks of having the debit card, they had racked up over $250 in bank fees, not to mention what they overdrew by . . . A $3 cup of coffee at Starbucks that now costs $25-30 because of the overdraft charge is a little ludicrous to think about.

Another friend: This friend of mine really aggitates me at times. For working for a tax firm, they have no concept of spending wisely. I lent them some money a couple of years ago . . . which I still haven't seen. But redecorating their house (to the tune of about $700 -- enough to cover what I lent them almost 10 times) is apparently a more worthwhile cause than paying down debts. What if I were a bank? What if I charged interest? Would this have guaranteed payment sooner? Now, I have always struggled with being assertive about the things that I need - especially when it comes to money. It's the most difficult thing in the world for me to say, "Umm, you do remember that I let you borrow money, right? Borrow." It's even more difficult to say that when what I want to say is, "Are you going to pay me back or not?!? Because if you're not, just tell me so I remember to never help you out again."

But that doesn't come across very nicely, does it?

Today was pay day, but because of the timing of my bills, my paycheck shrunk drastically in about 5 minutes -- the length of time it took me to make my car payment online, put some money into my savings account, write a check for my rent and balance my checkbook. The leftover is less than 1/4 of what came in, and even though it's more than enough for groceries and gas for the next two weeks, it still leaves me . . . wanting. Still makes me wish a tiny bit that I could just fill my apartment with things that I like.

Silly I know since I can use that money not just for the necessities, but for greater pleasures like hosting friends for a weekend or driving up to see Alex for a couple of days -- all infinitely more worth being able to buy a couple of bar stools or hit up IKEA for some mixing bowls any sooner.

But the 'wanting' thing is hard sometimes, which is why I'm trying to get a new perspective on things.

I'm learning though . . .

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