Monday, December 20, 2010

Money, Money, Money...

It's no secret that I've spent the past couple of years kind of broke and desperate for work. And even when I did find a paying gig, more often than not, the money sucked. But I'd take the job anyway because hey, some cash is better than none.

During those lean times, I managed to squeak by but not without some sacrifices. I'd often opt to spend the evening staying in instead of going out with friends. I'd eat the same thing for a week rather eat out. I'd keep a pair of running shoes well past its prime rather than buy on a new pair.

But this year, despite getting off to a slow start, has been a pretty bitchin' year for me. I've been working steadily, as things go, and for the first time in a while, my bank account has been pretty well fed.

However, now the challenge is, how do I keep it from sliding back into its previous anemic state?

I've noticed that the more money I make, the more I tend to spend. Sure, I know that this newfound cash should be put in the bank and left there, untouched and saved for the rainiest of days. But as with many things in this business (and life in general), it's easier said than done... Especially after a rough couple of years.

I suddenly find myself indulging in all the stuff I had to previously miss out on. I'll splurge on a night out with friends or treat myself to a nice meal and a movie. I'll get my car washed and waxed. And more importantly, I'll splurge on a new wardrobe. After all, I haven't done any serious shopping for myself in a while and vintage Ts are so 2009.

You'd think that the logical thing for me to do once I got that all out of my system would be to get back on a reasonable budget, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Apparently, the next logical thing for me to do is indulge myself even more.

All this work I've been doing lately, while it fills my pockets with cash, has been leaving me tired and fried. I feel like I work hard for my money, so it's all too easy to justify treating myself to a massage or a nice dinner. I've had a really rough week at work, so why not indulge in a little shopping spree? Not to mention taking some real time off and skipping town for a while.

And then there's my friends... Some of them are still down on their luck, so when we hang out, I'll offer to pay for their movie ticket or buy them lunch. After all, I've been lucky enough to be working virtually non-stop while they're still on their ass and unemployed, so it seems like the right thing to do. Especially when you consider how they've always stood by me when I needed them.

While this spending may (or may not) be justified, it's also imperative to point out that my career is that of a freelancer. Sure, I may be doing well now, but how long will this good fortune last? If I go through another period of lean times, will my bank account still be fat enough for me to make it through?

My balance sheet is still in the black, but it's pretty obvious that my recent spending habits need to change (like, set up a savings account that's as good as forgotten) but change is hard. Even more so around Christmas when you're excited about the fact that the first time in a while, you're able to afford presents that you know your loved ones will really enjoy, rather than ones off the clearance rack.

Sigh... Maybe I'll start saving again after the Holidays....?  :)


*Before I get called a hypocrite in the comments, I'd like to point out that the difference between my friend and I is that he's to the point where his phone was shut off. Despite me spending a bit more than usual lately, I'm still a ways off from anything like that.


Phay said...

I recently (as in 4 months ago) got myself into the habit of tranferring money into my savings account at the same time I deposit my checks...for every day that check is for, I put $20 into my savings...I also deposit a small portion of my unemployment checks as's a slow build, but it seems to be working out so far

D said...

I learned long ago that that's the answer- having two accounts. If you keep it all in one, it either goes down or stays at the same level. It's really mysterious how it happens too. I used to put every other check into savings and forget about it. It builds up quick and doesn't get spent. I also have 200.00 a month transferred automatically to savings just as an extra bump.

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