I grew up very poor even though my parents made decent money. Where did it all go? Money just seemed to be piddled away due to lack of foresight, impulse purchases, restaurant food, lack of budgeting, etc. When I moved out on my own I started living the same way, it never even occurred to me to do it any other way because that was how I grew up, I was working 50-60 hours a week and only paying $300 a month for my apartment but still never seemed to have any money left at the end of the month. I didn't even have a savings account! If only I knew the things then that I know now. I cringe to even think of how much money just went to waste on disposable items, food and entertainment. Thankfully all of that changed or I wouldn't be writing this blog!
Here's a summary of the 5 points as well as my comments but really just go check out the actual article, the guy is hilarious, he approaches bleak topics with a very dark humor that I just love!
- You develop a taste for crappy food: Yup, it was a 1 hour drive to the nearest town large enough to have a big grocery store so we only went once a month which meant nearly everything we bought had to be canned or frozen and the absolute cheapest that could be found, in case something spoiled then we wouldn't be out too much money. This means fresh fruit and veggies were only something we got to have for the first week after the big shopping, after that it was frozen tv dinners, gross tasting apples and oranges, canned fruit salad in syrup, canned pastas and beans, white bread and a whole lot of other convenience meals. Basically anything high in sugar,salt and fat. It took a couple years before I became accustomed to the taste of fresh ingredients and learned how to cook with them properly. I just recently (probably the past 2 years) stopped putting salt on my food and Jon commented that everything is now consistently good and far less greasy.
- Spending any extra money right away: I can't think of anyone I knew growing up that ever planned ahead when extra money came around. Instead of saving, investing or paying off bills the money was always used to purchase a "want" item, some silly thing like a snowmobile, night out on the town, new television, etc. And then guess what happened when I moved out? Same thing! Pay day or tax return and you bet I was out shopping for shoes, clothes, movies, going out for takeout and just generally blowing through all of my money with nothing really to show for it. Now I put my money right into the bank, put some into each savings account, some into Alice's college fund and if I have some left over then I will plan for about a week and figure out what I really want and then shop around for the best price.
- Going overboard on gift giving: feeling guilty and overcompensating for not buying things we needed during the year by getting tons of stuff for Christmas and birthdays was totally the style of my family, who cares if it's something we wanted or even needed, they got us stuff so we should be thankful whether we like it or not! Thankfully I fixed my habits before we had Alice, we buy her things when she needs them and she got a decent amount of toys for Christmas. When it was just Jon and I we were guilty of buying a bunch of stuff for each other without much thought.
- Obsessing about how much money you have left: I'm still guilty of this, I find myself checking my bank account online nearly every day even if I don't have any purchases coming out and don't need to make any withdrawals. I don't know why, maybe just to make sure it's still there? Years ago I would go to the machine and take out $20 just to check. Sad right?
- Not thinking about the long term when buying: Only buying just what you need and no more. Instead of buying more of something you use all of the time when it's on sale you just buy as much as you need right at that moment. Diapers, laundry soap, etc are on sale for a great price but you still have a little bit left so you don't need to buy it. The day you run out and need to buy more I can guarantee that it won't be on sale and you'll be stuck paying full price or even paying more if it's an emergency and you have to pick it up from a convenience store. In my family the items were always toilet paper, shampoo and pads. Now I think I may go a little overboard stockpiling certain items when they are on sale especially considering that we live right in the city but the less often I have to go out and carry home cases of diapers the better! I always buy things like shampoo and pads when there is a 3 for $5 or 4 for $10 deal on. The savings is usually several dollars and I never really have to worry about running out.
Well, I hope that was informative for someone even though it brought back some somewhat unpleasant memories for me. I mostly just feel lucky that I've corrected most of the behavior and hope that I'll pass on good spending habits to my kid.