This may be shocking, but Mr. VS and myself are actually pretty fiscally responsible. We’re fiscally sound, financially astute and budget friendly
cheap as hell. But it’s come to my attention that there are many people in the world who are NOT at all fiscally responsible. In fact, it’s a pretty sad day when you read an article that says that the majority of Americans can’t scrape together $400 if there’s an emergency.
It’s especially sad when you realize that it doesn’t matter what people are pulling in for a salary. The person making six figures is apparently just as screwed as the person living in poverty. That’s pretty confusing and weird if you think about it. How is it that Americans are so bad with their money that even those who make six figures are still living paycheck to paycheck? What the hell is wrong with this scenario? What kind of decisions are these people making with their money?
I mean I get it, you spend more as you make more. However, it’s not really THAT hard to spend less. Is it? Is it really that hard to realize that you cannot afford something if you don’t actually have money in the bank to pay for it? That seems like a simple concept, but apparently it’s a very complicated concept for the majority of us. I think it all comes down to willpower and choices. We’re all faced with choices everyday…what choices do we make?
I’m not sure why we’re like this? It could be because we feel the need to “keep up with the Jones'” or it may be because we have shopping compulsions that we can’t keep in check. I think…it may actually be that shopping and buying new things temporarily fills some kind of existential void or boredom within us and so we keep looking for that next purchase. And having that new item brings us happiness for a time until it doesn’t and we need something else. Trust me…I am not immune to this idea!
Well, all you spendthrifts are in luck because I’m sitting on my high horse willing to dispense my insane wisdom to help you gain fiscal responsibility. In fact, my wisdom is more like my own particular brand of mental illness! You’re gonna love it! Ready?
Tip One: Instead of Treat Yo’Self, Trick Yo’Self
There’s this little mental trick that’s been stuck in my head since I was a child. I can probably thank my parents for instilling this idea and can thank the weird way my mind works (obsessively) for keeping this thought in place.
Ever since I made my first $5 babysitting at 11 years old, I’ve had this idea that someone would be angry with me if I spend my
their money. Basically I’ve lived my life with this idea that any money that is mine, that I earned, actually belongs to someone else who will yell at me if I spend it.
This meanie used to be my Dad. And he’d be mighty unhappy if I spent his money! I didn’t want to hear him giving me a hard time! NO LECTURES DAD!! (This was all mental by the way, I don’t think he ever actually yelled at me, other than telling me now and then to save my money and explaining why) This was a very effective way to get me to save. I wanted to be “good” and I didn’t want to “listen to no grief.” So I saved my money, because that’s what good little girls do. And this has stuck with me through the years.
Can you see me shopping and then putting an item down because…I don’t really need it, it’ll look like crap in 3 months and I really don’t want to listen to a lecture from Mr. Meanie? Yup, it totally happens. Don’t you love those little voices inside your head?
You have those, right? So here’s the tip, pretend your money belongs to some guy with more money than you and he will be pissed and give you a tongue lashing if you spend it. It works, I’m telling you!
What’s weird is that now that I’m older, I still have this idea that my money is not my own. I’ve completely divorced the idea of going to work with making money. Somehow money appears in my checking account, although it’s probably not REALLY mine, however if I’m good I can use some of it, now and then, as long as I’m really really conservative and fly under the radar, i.e. notice of the mean guy. Mr. VS is also my current meanie who gives me a hard time. Basically it’s good to have checks and balances…hear me Federal Government?!
Tip Two: Outrage and Sticker Shock
I have an abnormal idea of what constitutes an expensive purchases and a love of finding a deal. Growing up, my parents always told me that spending $100 was a lot of money. I can remember going clothes shopping with my mom and $100 was a huge amount of money to spend for an ENTIRE going back to school wardrobe, certainly you would NEVER spend that kind of money on a single item.
This idea has still stuck with me through the years. $100 is still a huge dollar figure. If I want to buy something and it’s $100, I really need to think about it and research all my options and decide if I really NEED the item. Will it last? Will I still be using the item in a year?
Over the past few years I’ve taken to second hand shopping. It really changes your perspective on what things cost. If I go to Ann Taylor Loft and a button down dress shirt costs $75, I am outraged. Then I head to the Salvation Army or Goodwill and I find that they are selling similar clothing for $6 in very similar condition. So why should I be the one to pony up the $75? Why not let some other asshole spend their hard earned money on that shirt and then pick it up 6 months later when they’re tired of it? Basically I am #winning.
Plus once you start shopping cheap, you’ll find that paying more for similar things becomes very difficult to do. Your levels of outrage go up, exponentially. So here’s the tip: You basically need to cultivate a healthy amount of sticker shock for every purchase you make. If you can become outraged at the high cost of everyday items, you will likely still have money in the bank.
Here’s another fun thing to try: Recently I’ve been into this fun little phone app called Poshmark. It’s a second hand clothing/accessories buying and selling app that makes the whole process super fun and easy (sorry dudes, it’s for chicks). So I sit there spending a lot of quality time scrolling through items of interest and finding SWEET deals! I can sell stuff I don’t use and then BUY MORE STUFF and the net change to my finances is a GOOSE EGG ! Did you know you could buy a $100 bag for $40? It may be slightly used…but hey…good deal!!
Tip Three: The Buddy System
Mr. VS and I have a buddy system where spending is concerned. If he decides he wants to buy something that’s very expensive ($100!! HOW DARE YOU!), I’ll give him hell until he either rethinks the idea or if the buy is warranted and valid (and he can make a case that I’ll believe), he purchases the item after much shopping around and comparing prices.
If I decide to expend a significant portion of cashola on something, Mr. VS does the same for me. He’ll say, do you really NEED that item? Can’t you FIND that item cheaper on Craigslist or Ebay? Why do you NEED that item? Apparently saying I need an item to fill an existential void in my soul is not a good enough reason to spend big bucks.
So here’s the tip: Find someone to hold your ass accountable. It’s really kind of similar to tip 1, if I’m honest, but it’s nicer and there’s the excellent benefit of being able to hold THEM responsible too, plus a lot of quality debates
arguments and giving of shit to those you love. Relationships THRIVE on this folks!!
So there you have it Angst readers! PEARLS OF WISDOM have dripped from my pen! Or my…keyboard!!
Now that I’ve said all of this… I will admit that I too succumb to the idea that shopping is exciting. So all my tricks don’t really stop me from nickle and diming Mr. VS and myself to death with smaller purchases now and again. So I may have to admit to a slight bit of fiscal irresponsibility. Maybe. Just a little. I mean spending $30 is totally okay.
If you do it enough times, it becomes $300.
Now, I urge you Angst readers, to reach for fiscal responsibility! It’s within your grasp! Having money in the bank is cool! It’s doubly cool because it can relieve money related worries and angst!
I know I enjoy the idea that there’s cash in the bank and if something happens (EMERGENCY!! AHH! OMG!!), I’ll be covered. I can’t imagine how everyone out there can live on the edge for years on end! I’d go straight up crazy. FAR more neuroticism would become me!
And let’s just call a spade a spade, I’m neurotic to the bone and you certainly don’t want to see me with less than $400 in the bank. I’d lose it. It wouldn’t be pretty. So reach for both your mental well being and fiscal well being. It’s WORTH IT! You’re WORTH IT!!
*Photo Credit: Kaboompics.com