Friday, September 14, 2007

When is it ok to stop worrying?

If nothing else, the project of tracking every cent I spend for the rest of 2007 is keeping my attention on my finances. I'm no longer quite so certain that's a good thing. The goals I set for myself were pretty ambitious: I wanted to live out the semester on nothing but the housing allowance from my scholarship, $100 extra for the expenses of moving into my own apartment, and any money from tutoring. There was no real need to be this frugal since I worked this summer, get an additional stipend on top of the housing money each semester, and could easily dip into savings a bit as a result. Before I decided to get an apartment, I planned on using the roughly $60 my online savings account earns each month as an allowance. For some silly reason, I concluded that it would be better to not touch that money and instead build my savings.

I'm beginning to think I'm making myself unhappy over nothing, fretting about whether it's extravagant to spend $3 on a Lean Cuisine dinner at the end of a stressful, sleep deprived week rather than trying to figure out something novel to do with beans, rice, and frozen veggies. Last night I was actually worrying about how to save for Christmas gifts for my family, an expense of perhaps $100 total. It's silly to treat what's left of money I earned this summer as untouchable, and even more silly to try to save a stipend that's supposed to help with living expenses.

This may cross the line into pathological if I don't keep it in check. Frugality is good, but there are limits. Adult life is rushing at me very fast, and I am very much adrift. Saved money can be a source of security, but saving because I'm frightened and it is one of the few things in my life I can control probably isn't the wisest approach to money.

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