Tag Archives: update

Spending Addiction vs. Earning Addiction

Unlike most of the personal finance bloggers out there, I’m more of a spender than saver. That admitted, I limit my spending as to not put myself in debt. I still save, or at the least, break even without dipping into my savings.

It’s hard, as an adult, to spend “correctly.” This year my biggest purchases — other than my trip to Bloomingdales last weekend and my new favorite $600 leather jacket and updated fall wardrobe — were laser hair removal and a few classes at my local community college. I probably spent too little in terms of health (with company health insurance and an HSA, I have yet to dip into my company’s $100/month contribution. It’s extra retirement savings for me, right?)
I do need to write a post on the latest health insurance debacle in the US government, but for now I’m just updating about my spending habits, and how I’m going to stop being ashamed of them, but really try to get them in check.
The good news is that I’m earning a lot this year. My general rule is that whatever I make as base salary for the year for my full time job, I need to try my best to do some side projects here and there in my spare time to cover for any splurges. For instance, I write for a blog (usually at 7am before I head into the office for the day) and make anywhere from $200 – $500 a month doing that. So in a year or so, if I hit the $500 target, that covers… at least some of my splurges. Which makes me feel better about those few days a year when I go to the mall and feed my addiction.
On one hand, I feel guilty for even being able to spend so much. And I have finance voices in my head saying — save the money. But — with the stock market recovery and my investing heavily earlier this year, I’m above my net worth for the close out of 2008 already. I could save more. Everyone can always save more. There has to be a line one draws between saving and spending, and I still don’t have a clue where that line should be. I love shopping, I love fashion, and I admit I spent about $1000 total revamping my wardrobe so now it’s complete with leggings, long t-shirts, and 3 new pairs of shoes that fit both with the trends and my long-term fashion aesthetics, plus my new jacket that I am in love with.
Laser hair removal is even more expensive, but it makes me happy. It’s not a necessity, I will live without it, but being hair free is something I’ve dreamt about all my life. I’m really hairy even after one day of shaving. It puts a damper on my otherwise great relationship. If my legs are prickly intimacy limited to kissing.
So this year, I’ve invested in myself. And I feel like I should continue to do that, within reason. After all, I’m an adult, an adult without children (for the time being) and I ought to spend on myself a bit before there’s other things to worry about… a house payments, school tuition, etc. It’s hard to really understand the concept of saving when you’re not in debt. How much should I be saving? I’m not sure. I try to make my networth go up a bit each year. I’m hoping as my income increases (if it increases) over my lifetime that will be easier. But who knows. I’m a little lost. But I’m not too lost, and I for once feel like I’m in control of my finances, the control I have is obtained by spending within reason, not by saving. Saving is a byproduct of limiting my splurges.

Spending and Saving & Saving or Spending

I know it has been a while since I updated this blog, and I wanted to let you all know I’m A) not dead and B) doing fairly well, financially speaking at least. I’m still employed (knock on wood) which is an incredible feat in this economy and one that I’m both proud of and grateful for.

While I haven’t stuck to my budget as planned exactly in the first half of 2009, I’m not overspending. I’ve been pretty good at avoiding shopping malls and spending on things only when I have to, with the exception of an occasional splurge.

My big expenditures this year so far have been laser hair removal packages (approx $2500 for armpits and face, thanks PCOS), quarterly flights across the country to see my dad (he’s in the late stages of cancer so it’s worth it), and a few classes at the community college both for career growth and fitness. Gas is still costing quite a bit with my rehearsing for a production about a half hour away from my home, but it’s not too bad. Maybe $100 – $150 a month.

Food wise, my costs have gone down quite a bit. My boyfriend and I are determined to get healthy so we barely ever go out to eat. I do spend quite a bit at whole foods but even with those expensive shopping trips my food budget, which has surpassed my clothing budget, is not that huge.

There are some larger purchases I’d like to make, namely a new pair of glasses and a better bike, but I’m holding off on both until I find the perfect ones. I also would like to get laser hair removal for my legs and bikini area, but that gets extremely expensive fast.

My rule, that I’ve been trying to follow, is that whatever unnecessary large purchases I make, I need to first earn that money above and beyond my salary. So, for instance, my blogging income goes to things like really nice glasses or that new bike. I don’t have enough freelance gigs going on to earn money fast enough, though, which kind of sucks. My blogging gig could feasibly earn me $600 a month at most, but I usually make more like $100 or $200. I used to have a good monthly writing gig for my uncle where I’d make $400 a month but with the recession all those jobs have dried up.

Some days I’m curious about what would happen if I found a new job, as I think I could probably find one that’s better paying given my experience now. But I also really love working in a company that’s up-and-coming, and for what it’s worth I don’t care about my salary that much. Well, I do, in that I’m no longer working in journalism or non-profit, where I’d be lucky to break $40k / year. I’m happy where I am now, yet not sure where I go from here. Taking the GREs this fall, considering grad school still, but I’m scared of all the change. I’m FINALLY feeling happy (usually) and settled and I don’t know if it’s worth it to go through the trouble of applying to grad school, the anxiety of waiting to see if I get in, the anxiety of getting in and worrying that I’ll be in over my head, and so on. So I’m starting with these community college classes hoping they’ll help lead the way. And re-learning math so I can get a decent GRE score.

Well, that’s my life in financial terms right now. It’s ok. I’m not saving enough probably, but at the least I’ll max out my roth IRA this year, I haven’t spent any of my HSA funds that my company contributes $100 / month to yet (though I probably should!) and I’m putting about $200 / month into my sharebuilder account. So I’ll be saving about $7000 this year, I guess. If I go to grad school, that’s not even a semester’s worth. So I kind of don’t want to go to grad school. But I also don’t want money to hold me back… after all, people DO go to grad school, and not everyone is from a super rich family.