There are not many things I am an expert at, but I can confidently say I suck at finances. I’ve made every mistake possible. I’m that girl who on Tuesday after pay-day is scratching her head looking at her bank balance going “What the hell happened?” Over the last few months I have made some massive strides (see above) but I have a long way to go. I implore you to commit this article to memory. If nothing else, let’s let my expansive fuckery save someone else from financial suicide.
“It can’t be that bad” you say. Well like probably always, you’re wrong. Let’s explore my most spectacular financial moments.
1.) Relocate as often as possible. Might as well change jobs once a year while you’re at it.
So we already learned about my penchant for moving here, and we haven’t explored my colorful resume (perhaps coming soon…) but we need to talk about how a perpetual fear of commitment mingled with an addiction to new hire on-boarding can make your financial foundation totally unstable. After years of running away and spontaneously quitting jobs for mostly unreasonable reasons, I can promise you the answer is to stay in one place. Moving is expensive. Rent always got steeper while square footage got smaller. Eventually movers had to be involved. There are deposits that never get returned for inexplicable reasons. Moving is a financial mess. Changing jobs always winds up costing me money somehow. Needing to re-accrue time off, acclimating to new healthcare plans that seem to get more expensive and less beneficial with each move, thinking you’re making more money but somehow it feels the same because maybe your commute is longer. Change for change sake is pricey, so make sure your moves and job changes are necessary.
2.)Don’t pay your bills on time. In fact, ignore your debt completely.
This is a fast and easy way to flush yourself down the financial toilet bowl. I don’t think anyone just decides to not pay their bills or ignore their debt. For me, this mostly occurs in times of transitions (see above.) I kind of freeze on financial responsibilities until I feel settled. This comes down to financial fear. It is super easy for me to scare myself out of being fiscally responsible. This is a dumb thing. A dumb unnecessary thing. It is incredibly empowering to open all of your bills and assess what you owe. It is extraordinarily satisfying to pay each thing off little by little or all at once when you can. But if you are looking for that certain feeling that only publicly getting turned down for a $200 limit Target credit card can give you, then I super recommend blowing off your bills.
3.) Decide you want a dog.
Ok so “dog” in this context is symbolic for a lot of things. For me it was actually a dog. I’ll tell the story of how I obtained my darling canine soul mate later, but just know I was not financially ready and I’m pretty sure my perfect pupper is made out of economic quicksand. Now, for some, this could be having a kid. I don’t regret my dog, you don’t regret your kid(s), but let’s be real: Adding any addition to your household makes money run away crying. Maybe for you “dog” represents buying a brand new car you couldn’t afford because all of your friends were getting brand new cars and once you realized how much you failed you had to sheepishly beg your mom to pay off your loan. Maybe you did this twice because there is something wrong with your brain where you can’t learn lessons and also because you drove that first car into a lake accidentally. Does this sound oddly specific? I warned you I had some spectacularly stunning financial pyrotechnics to bestow. The point is, we all have the money pits, or the multiple money canyons. Some of these are clearly more avoidable than others. I now strive to avoid the ones I can.
4.) Complain about work more than you actually work.
Alright so in a weird way I’m a perfectionist. No, I don’t have an inane attention to detail or a scrupulous drive to do everything right. My perfectionism manifests itself as me deluding myself into believing that I can do everything better than others and then being repulsively vocal about it while I ignore my own responsibilities. I’m a work in progress and admitting you have a problem is the first step. I really like my current job, and at some point it occurred to me that if I worked as hard as I bitch about working in general, I might actually earn my paycheck and then reap the benefits that come with good old-fashioned hard work. Holy moly what a lightbulb revelation. Well it’s working. I’ve learned I’m kind of a master at the suspension of disbelief. If I try to make it seem like I am working hard I actually believe I am doing so, but alas my ruse is easy to see through by others. It’s actually easier and less stressful to just do my job as best I can. My future is brighter, my bank account is fatter, and my delicate ego is joyfully deflated.
5.) Spend more than you make.
Another easy way to be your own worst enemy. There are 50 million articles out there that give you obviously trite advice about living within your means. Any idiot knows you are supposed to do this. For some reason, it is when I am at my financial and emotional worst that I feel pressure to needlessly spend. “Retail therapy” is a thing. But it only makes you feel better for a moment. Then the buyer’s remorse kicks in because we cannot fill our happy jar with arbitrary stuff. Do I really need that 7th vanilla scented Yankee Candle? Am I really going to take tambourine lessons?
I have learned that my best weapon in the war against want is practicing gratitude. Maybe this sounds lame, and it doesn’t happen overnight, but the more I practice being grateful for what I have, the less pressure I feel the urgency to acquire. If you still feel a persistent need to turn your living space into a little department store, then by all means hoard until you develop claustrophobia. I think it’s easier to just light your cash on fire.
So there you have it. My little handy dandy guide to destitution. I’m kind of thinking I should quit my job, move downtown, buy a condo and become a financial advisor!