A money rant, just ‘cuz

– Contributed by Big L

You know what I hate? Counting pennies. Thinking about things in terms of how much they cost, rather than how much value they have. Constantly feeling like the money you have is not enough. Always wishing for more, more, more, even if you have more than your friends, more than your parents, and certainly more than you need. That’s what I hate.

Why is it a societal norm to be consumed with spending, rather than with appreciating your money and making it work for you? In this modern day, when everything costs so damn much, we shouldn’t have to be faced with the desire to buy a house, pay off student debt, get married, see the world, open a business, or make babies, yet not have any comprehension of how we’re actually going to DO that. And by that I mean, PAY for it. Not by getting a new credit card, or another line of credit, but by actually being wise with our dollars, prioritizing, saving, and understanding the relationship between cost and value.

Remember all of those hours you worked at the gas station, ski hill or movie theatre as a teenager? Well I don’t know about you, but I wish I had done something useful with all of those dollars. I wish I had understood the value of saving then.

I wish it was normal for parents and teachers to talk to you about money at great length. It should be as important of a discussion as safe sex, because it’s impact on your future is just as great. Forget economics and chemistry. If I wanted to be an economist or chemist, I should have been able to opt in to those courses. Instead, talk to me about cash flow. About savings, interest, RRSPs, the housing market, debt. Teach me how to plan for the future; how to balance instant gratification with long term planning. Teach me how to respect this currency of life, rather than fear it, abuse it, waste it, loathe it, crave it.

Those are teachings I could have used! We all could have used them. Except, even as adults they’re damn hard to find. Especially because most people who have that knowledge and understanding to share – bankers, financial advisors, insurers, accountants, lawyers, mortgage brokers – will often put their own interests before yours, even if subtly.

Why this rant about money? Well, three reasons:

1. Money is one of the biggest personal stressors that 30 Things did not fully lead me to get over. (Although my outlook changed a lot, there’s still some serious growing to do).

2. I recently met with my financial advisor, because I want to “improve my financial health” this year. We talked for 90 minutes about all of the places my money should be going and I left feeling hopeless and overwhelmed at my ability to put money in any of them. I then proceeded to scratch the shit out of my car on a brick wall in an impossibly tight parking spot, at a place I didn’t want to be in the first place, essentially burning through hundreds of dollars in a nano second. Wicked.

3. Since I wrapped up 30 Things at the start of this month, I’ve shifted into maintenance mode. That means still saying Yes instead of No once a month, every month. In January, I’m trying to institute a family budget for Hunny and I. We don’t have combined debt or profit, we make most financial decisions independently, and the only thing we jointly save for are vacations, if we’re lucky. I’m ready to make more progress, TOGETHER, but that’s a big, big leap to take. Yet, I feel like it’s the right one and is important part of being equals and preparing for a long, happy life.

Hopefully, by January 31, we will have made enough progress on #3 to consider it accomplished, and I will have swiped my Visa to deal with issue #2 and blocked out the financial advisor convo altogether, at least for now.

{Photo credit}


4 responses to “A money rant, just ‘cuz

  1. “They” say that worrying about money will manifest a shortage of it…I’m really sorry to hear about your car. 😦

    Money or lack thereof can be an all consuming issue. But I believe you are far ahead of the curve when it comes to financial issues. You understand the importance of planning for the future and avoiding debt. You also know how to create (and follow) a budget…something many of us NEVER learn.

    You are at the age where there are a lot of major expenses: a wedding, buying your first home (and everything you need to fill it)…the list is endless. So my advice is buy only what you can afford, don’t live beyond your means, focus on getting rid of whatever debt you may have. And if you can’t save for your (longterm) future right now, be content to pay for today.

    Turn your thoughts to gratitude rather than worry and frustration. Be grateful for your good fortune. The rest will follow.


  2. I enjoyed this post, Big L. I think most (if not all) people can relate to this one! It is one of my “things” I’d like to accomplish for 2011 as well. Keep in mind, all young peeps go through this and it’s not until we are “older” than we can actually buy those $200 jeans without wincing at our bank accounting 🙂

    Good luck!

  3. Amen sistah!
    If only there was a course in high school that introduced us to money. Good God, I’m 32 years old, still paying for my seven years of university, not to mention a horrid Alberta mortgage (note the root word in mortgage: mort. French for death), two cars and all of then there are the basics (food, gas, etc). The thought of having children some day causes me great anxiety…for a lot of reasons, but mostly the cost. How the hell can we afford to have children? It all just seems so wrong. My parents told me not long ago that money always seems backwards: when you’re young and you need to to get started, have children etc, you don’t have it. When you’re older and the kids are gone and the house is paid off, you don’t need it the same way. ARGH!
    Great post Big L. It strikes a cord with all of us.

  4. Thanks ladies for your comments, all good ones! It is definitely one of life’s ironies that when we’re young and making big life decisions and expenditures is when we feel like we have the least amount of money (even if we have a lot by comparison to other people or countries!). And even though I know I AM ahead of the curve in a lot of ways, I still find it so frustrating that money isn’t a generally accepted conversation and learning topic. Imagine cocktail night with the girls sharing receipts, coupons, money saving tips, and interest rates. Enough pussy footing around, everyone should be sharing whatever it is they’ve learned so we can all get money wise together!

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