The Things We Buy.

As it is the start of a new year and I am somewhat more conscientious about what I’m doing with myself and my life (not much, it seems), I’ve noticed a bit about how I spend money.  I’m not a ridiculous spender, nor am I a highly thrifty person, like my sister, Shelly.  I guess I’m somewhere in the middle, but in today’s culture, I’m not really sure exactly where that puts me.  I just spend a significant amount of money buying new work clothes.  True, they look really nice and snazzy, and the quality is good so they will last me awhile, but do I really need more clothes?  Probably not.  I could probably get away with wearing the same wearing-thin pants I’ve been wearing.  But at the same time, looking nice and different and buying something new does give me a little esteem boost.  Maybe that’s my feminine side coming out, or maybe we just all like to look nice.

Mike is more of a gadget buyer than I am, but I still have  my own little gadget buys once in awhile that I probably don’t need.  I would like to get a new computer sometime.  Why?  Mine is not running out of space, but the processor is a little slow.  So why not get a new one?  They aren’t that expensive.

I guess that’s the kind of message that’s been ingrained on my generation.  We didn’t have any depression, or cold war, or any real reason to tighten our belts.  We were born to a time of plenty, when the economy basically depends on us consuming more and more.  So we do, almost without thinking.

Why does this bother me?  Basically because I’ve watched myself balloon out my spending as my salary has increased.  When I first moved to Boston, I was tight enough on cash that I spent only about 10-20$ a week on groceries.  Usually I could keep it to under 15$, but occasionally I spoiled myself.  I went out to dinner maybe once a month, someplace cheap.  I just didn’t buy other things.  When I got my current job, I spent more.  When I got a raise, I spent more.

True, some of this spending is legitimate and worth its cost.  I fly home for holidays now, and sometimes in between.  Those flights add up, but they are definitely worth it.  And now that I’m living with Mike we’re more likely to have a nice dinner, just the two of us, as a little outing for us to just spend time alone together and get out of the apartment.  And I don’t regret that time spent at all.   But at the same time, it adds up.

I think the bottom line is that I want to have more money to spare, or invest, or save.  And if I’m going to do that, I need to really think hard about what things are worth their cost, and what things I can do without, at least for a little while.

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