Monday, August 11, 2008

Really, I'm not broke, just frugal!

Never before have I felt this weird about having savings. There hasn't been much opportunity for it to cause social awkwardness since I don't talk about it in real life with anyone besides immediate family. Now, however, pretty much everyone around me is talking about money all the time.

That's largely because the many of the other first years are dealing with a serious financial crunch induced by being unable to work all summer, moving, and having to pay all sorts of costs to get certified, ranging from $900 for graduate tuition to $3 to have forms notarized. People who received transitional funding have all depleted it, and lots of people are scrambling to figure out how to make it until we get paid in September. There's lots of talk of living on popsicles, using credit cards to pay utility bills, and taking out loans from parents.

I'm keeping quiet and taking advantage of the opportunity to embrace the bare-bones lifestyle. It feels slightly disingenuous, but I am much broker than I was in May and I don't want to deplete my savings any more than I already have. Still, I'm not sure what to say when the second years ask me what I'm doing for lunch, I explain that I packed a sandwich, and they try to commiserate and launch into reminiscences about getting down to $4 in their checking accounts before they got their first paychecks.

Yes, I will probably ratchet up my lifestyle a wee bit in the next few months. I do want Netflix and a newspaper subscription, and I'll probably treat myself to an occasional chocolate shake at the fast food joint next to my school. If I'm feeling wild and crazy, I might even shell out $25 a month to join the gym. However, overall, I'm hoping not to abandon my frugal habits, and I find it a little annoying that people assume that the only reason I could possibly have for bringing a pb&j is a cash flow problem.

2 comments:

Mary Sue said...

It's a cultural issue, not a personal one. To the majority of folks, the American Dream means that you constantly improve your visible lifestyle through conspicuous consumption (in this case, actual conspicuous consumption of what is considered higher-class foods). You should hear the jokes that my beans n' rice lunches garner, especially now that I'm a permanent employee, and my department's main focus is saving money for our institution! I even had one coworker sadly state that she could never eat 'boring' food like mine.

We're counter-cultural, yo. Fight the System!

Zombie Money said...

Remember savings is good but def splurge once in awhile but not something too crazy. You only live once :)