One of my good friends has a financial group online where we share tips about what helps us. I used to try to contribute more, but at some point I just gave up. It felt a bit too ironic, and that irony is just growing.
I should clarify that the group has nothing to do with people who are in huge amounts of debt (that I know of). Grandiose purchases are not my way, unless you count my late night splurges on plane tickets to fly home (and those I consider therapy as opposed to losing my freaking mind…they count toward mental health).
When the group first started, Parker and I were making an effort to curb eating out, something we determined was where most of our excessive spending lie. Parker also cut back on buying kitchen appliances, mainly because I never used them, washed them, and there was no place to store them. I couldn’t actually put any sort of dollar amount saved on this, although not seeing new, annoying kitchen appliances is priceless.
We cut back on our spending in these areas. Then we tried not to buy ANYTHING.
It’s not so much that we spend. It’s not so much that we save. It’s that we don’t have enough to save so we try not to spend anything.
Therefore, I rarely have anything to outright contribute to the group. Moreover, if I did have any kind of truthful comment, it would look like I was trying to capsize the group or make fun of it. Other people’s comments remind me of a Geico commercial. From time to time I hear, “I took part in a ‘Keep the change’ program!” or “I’m paying off my credit!”
Here is what my feedback would look like:
“I paid my bills! Almost all of them! But I’m waiting for that last paycheck.”
“Parker and I didn’t forget to pay the electricity bill on time.”
“Parker got written up in class, because he hasn’t bought a new uniform shirt in two years. Because new shirts are for rookies.” (Seriously, he came home, and we both studied the “white” shirt that his teacher claimed was blue tinged. “It’s just not white anymore,” I said, squinting hard. Then he DID have to buy a new shirt in order to go to class.)
“I put a paycheck in savings! …Nope, I transferred it back to checking. Can’t save that.”
“I got a paycheck! This is going in the bank.” (No progress there, because it’s what I do with every paycheck.)
“The Weird Button paid the rent instead of Parker.”
“Parker paid the rent instead of The Weird Button.”
“No one asked anyone for money.”
“We had quarters left over from doing the laundry so we didn’t have to make a trip to the bank! Score!”
“The Weird Button sold a kidney, and Parker posted several items on Craigslist.” (Ha ha! Just kidding, that’s sketchy. I’m afraid for us to post things on Craigslist.)
“Free vacuum from the in-laws…score!”
“Tonight, I ate out of a can of beans! I saved so many helpless spices in our kitchen, not to mention water from washing dishes. They’ll live to see…well, they’re not alive, but no one’s buying more.” (I’m not even sure what most of the spices DO, nor could I identify them at knife point. The eating out of a can part is true though.)
Recently, I am really feeling how unlike the rest of the group I am. Parker and I made a decision to move home instead of continuing to live here. Although this is an amazing decision emotionally for us, it’s not a great one financially speaking.
“Good news everyone! Parker and I are saving money…on rent! We are moving home. This also means we’re saving money on the amount of sad binge drinking that goes down here. We’re going to drive home and live with a friend. Possibly under a bridge, depending on how things work out. To celebrate, we’re treating ourselves to a trip with all the money we’ll be saving: driving home cross-country with one pet per car (nah, one car is for people really cool with giving up the part of themselves that enjoys buying gasoline!). Recently, my co-worker suggested that since we’re so good at this plan, we should bicycle home. What an idea! We’ll be like a green-mean-moving machine! The Forrest Gumps of cycling across the country! We could get a mini-trailer for the back. Surely that won’t weigh more and possibly slide into our bikes splattering us on the highway! Maybe there’s a bike that can accommodate our pets where they can pitch in with the power? The possibilities are endless!”
The good news, financially, is that I will not be spending several hundred dollars a year flying home. My mom also promised to invite us over for lots of dinners and has people lined up to work on my car (which I’ll undoubtedly need after driving halfway across the country…even though I now need to fix tons of things on it in order to move).
Needless to say, I’m feeling pretty pessimistic about spending and saving right now. But then I have to remember that I hate this place, and not living through burning summers where I can’t go outside will be worth it. I hope.
Update: Stress and uncertainty have caused me to post something dark. Not Batman dark, but dark enough. Obviously, there are a lot of people worse off than us…on the other hand, I can’t understand how people I know personally are buying houses. It’s akin to knowing low level celebrities, and the fact that I think this just goes to show what a discrepancy there is.