Sunday, March 25, 2012


It's all the rage now, being frugal. You see 'experts' on TV shows talking about saving vegetable scraps to make soup (a tad extreme for most of us) and how you can turn an old t shirt into a snappy reusable bag. I then read an article about how a family of four has a hard time living on six figures. This family actually spends $1000 a month on food - that's not a typo - $1000 a month. What the hell? I honestly don't think I could spend $1000 a month on food if I tried. Not even at Whole Foods. This family also spends over $15,000 a year to send a kid to private school and spends $175 a month on their cable bill amongst other expenses.

I read said article while waiting to go into a meeting with a coworker. I was reading parts of it to her and she was sort of taking their side. I told her it really isn't about sides, it's about choices - in my opinion, which I know is worth about buck and a quarter. People spend what they make - we all do. I've found that there are few exceptions to the rule - one being my friend Julie. I have no idea exactly how much she makes but I know that she's a smart saver. I would bet my house that they're set for retirement, at the age of 45. And I have no judgement against rich people, none at all. Some of my best friends are loaded. Anyway, back to choices. If you choose to send your child to private school and pay $2100 a year to watch TV, then those are your choices which means you don't get to complain about not making enough money. In today's world anyone that complains about making more than six figures and not being able to 'make it' is either ignorant, stupid or both. I know everyone is struggling on some level 'in this economy' but once again, to me, it's about choices.

You know who doesn't get to make the choice of paying $15,000 to send their kid to private school? MOST PEOPLE!

I feel that I make a really decent salary for the job that I do yet I am on the hook for some serious credit card debt. I do not, nor have I ever, blamed anyone but myself. I made some shitty decisions, some decisions I felt backed into a corner to make and some simply frivolous choices - like when I think it's prudent to purchase yet another pair of black pants at Macy's (I recently paid off that card, by the way).

The recent choices I've been making are all about paying off my debt so that I can travel to Italy next year for my 45th birthday. These choices come up everyday. We live in such a consumer culture that every single day I am making choices on what not to buy, what do I really need, etc. The really cool side effect of my constant attention to paying off my debt is that since I've started seeing progress, I've felt my life open up a bit. Feeling like I'm getting rid of the giant Chase credit card that I've been dragging around is freeing me up to try some new things, be adventurous and think about possibilities that I thought were out of my ballpark. Taking control of my financial situation gives me a sense of confidence I had long ago buried.

Saying no has a lot of power. It allows me to say yes more and I'm getting good at it.