I haven’t been able to write anything lately because I’ve been really busy watching four seasons of Breaking Bad and not studying for this exam for work which I really should be doing and maybe doing a little bit of self-back-patting because I really feel like I’ve made a dent in my debt AND I haven’t felt totally crazed and in an urge to spend a chunk of money to make up for this stretch of non-spending.
Having a blog is confusing. I want to write and inform the world but I don’t want to misinform. I’ve been following and supporting the Occupy movements and I believe in the power of the 99 percent finally speaking up for itself on its own terms, and I think that is the most exciting thing that has happened in America in a long time. I don’t agree with 20smoney when he says that the Occupiers are uneducated about the issues and aren’t saying anything of substance. This is a large group with a variety of views, but they are trying to do something different (inclusive, not centered around a single leader or single demand) and that is what counts. But you wont see me posting on the http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com/ page any time soon, and here’s why.
I Got Myself Here (with My Dark Passenger Known as Immaturity)
My debt situation is my own fault. I am the 99 percent but I am not in this situation because somebody stuck it to me, or some corporation pulled the rug out from under me, or I got hit with million-dollar medical bills due to evil health insurers. I had a nearly full-ride scholarship for my undergraduate career and paid off my $6,000 in student loans just 9 months after graduating from college. My parents helped me out until I graduated college and even up until last year were paying for my car insurance. I have been lucky enough to always have work when I wanted to work. Sometimes, through a fault of my own thinking, I have worked for way less than I should have. But that was my own choice. I have friends who make similar salaries to me and yet they are not in debt. Why is that? My best friend is a teacher and she has worked from age 17. She has personal savings in the SIX FIGURES. God damn! How did she do it? I asked her to explain herself.
She said that one reason that she was able to save so much is that she “has never paid a cent of interest” to anyone, for anything. On the other hand, I’m paying all kinds of fees and interest. Interest on my credit cards, auto loans, and personal loans. A $10 fee each month because I pay my auto insurance monthly instead of every 6 months. Those things add up.
She has also always spent way less on clothing. Brand name jeans that cost $150 which looked super-cool to me, only seemed ridiculous to her. I think women’s spending habits on clothing/accessories is a HUGE factor in predicting how well they save. I am not so sure if it’s true with guys, but I have noticed that all of the women I know who don’t spend a lot of time shopping and rarely buy designer brands are generally not in debt and have been able to save for other things. I wasn’t there before, but I am now.
Be Less Impulsive
My best friend (who’s reading this and will probably call me and tell me to not use her as blogging fodder) is also less impulsive. I have noticed that she takes a lot more time to make decisions and she doesn’t shop impulsively. Sometimes I try to push her but she makes decisions in her own time and they have worked out for her. I was always impulsive in my actions, whether it was buying things or making decisions about my life. I had a very strange mentality of making decisions and then charging forward with them no matter what (which we’ll analyze in my next post reviewing Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior). But impulsiveness is a sign of immaturity. Becoming less impulsive and being more thoughtful and deliberate means you are becoming mature. That’s bittersweet for me. I love being impulsive, immature and never worrying too much. Reckless is hilarious and makes for interesting stories. But if I continued that way it would be very hard to achieve my dreams and make big things happen.
So maturity is good. It doesn’t mean your life is suddenly devoid of color and all things fun, it just means you don’t act on every single impulse. For me, it’s about taking responsibility for having never considered the price, pretending like I could afford everything I wanted and deserved to spend money. It would have been nice if my parents had instilled frugality in me, but it’s not the end of the world. I would rather they taught me everything that they did teach me, which instilled in me a natural curiosity, a love of all people, a true desire to give and be a part of a community, and a healthy sense of humor that makes me who I am. I guess for all those good things I can forgive them their lack of sensibility when it comes to saving for retirement.