I will be the first one to tell you. I like nice things, and I always have. For me, it has always been about quality rather than quantity. It was a way of rationalizing spending more, to get exactly what I wanted. But after four years of university, a tragic job market, and lifes daily rollercoaster, this mentality has evidently changed.
First and foremost, I have a confession to make: the first time I really looked at a receipt was six months ago. Its not that I didn’t know the cost of the item; I did. I just didn’t realize how it all added up, or what it felt like after the euphoric high of my brand new purchase sizzled away.
It all started my first summer of University when I landed the perfect summer job at a bank. In comparison to many of my friends jobs at the time, this $35,000 a year gig was the ideal placement. Fast forward 2 years later to a 40% pay increase, I was living the good life. I spent without question because I knew I had enough money, I just didn’t know I couldn’t afford it. Yes, those are two different things!
My parents are bankers, and great ones. They save but are also great spenders. They spend what they can afford, and at 18 I had no idea what that meant. Notwithstanding the fact that I graduated with little debt I definitely could have saved more. To be honest, I had no real expenses, no rent, no food costs and no car insurance. All my money (that I worked hard for!) was going to me, me, me.
Although I worked at a bank, managing other peoples money I had no idea what the purpose of my spending was. I have since moved on from this job and lifestyle. Albert Einstein says it best with we can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them. I have grown up, learnt where I fit in and started to understand the bigger picture.
I came out of University living in a self satisfied bubble, to find myself relearning what a dollar was worth. I had changed, along with my lifestyle. It was about balancing my dollar, taking 20 cents for savings, 30 cents for wants, and 50 cents for needs.
As many of you enter another school year with books, food, rent, transportation, nights out and caffeine all added to your daily shopping bag, I would remind you to keep your goals in mind. Take a look at the bigger picture. Understand what is a necessity and what is simply a self-indulgent urge. Can I live without this? Will this support my goals? Understanding how your decisions now, make way for actions tomorrow will help support you in making rational, money saving decisions.
It has not been an easy journey, and I will be completely frank, if I could take the word budgeting out of the dictionary, I probably would. But until then, a penny saved is a penny earned.