Living, Laughing & Loving… while in debt.
Hope everyone is having a great Sunday!
This morning a co-worker of mine had her daughter’s 4th birthday party at The Morning Call Coffee Stand in City Park, New Orleans. They have been making beignets for over 140 years! Café Du Monde in the French Quarter is more renowned for their beignets, but to be honest, it’s fried dough and powdered sugar… it’s probably harder to make it not taste good. It’s one of those things that you could probably get at a 7-Eleven and it wouldn’t end up tasting that different. But, anyway, if you’ve never had a beignet- you should definitely try one… or you can just get a funnel cake; they’re basically the same thing.
So, I received a mass e-mail the other day that must have outsmarted my spam folder. I’ve decided that my spam folder is like an unappreciated, bottom-tier worker at a big corporation. It works hard and usually gets everything right, but only when it screws up do I even remember it exists.
But I am actually happy this e-mail did slip through. I very rarely read spam, but this one had “free joke” in the subject line, which I found rather enticing. The only thing more appealing would have been if the subject line read: “don’t open this e-mail.” So, I decided to collect my free joke and it was a good one. It was also surprisingly thought provoking.
Here was my “free joke:”
First Date Conversation
Lady: Do you drink?
Lady: How much a day?
Man: 3 six packs
Lady: How much per six pack
Man: about $10.00
Lady: And how long have you been drinking?
Man: 15 years
Lady: So 1 six pack cost $10.00 and you have 3 six packs a day which puts your spending each month at $900. In one year, it would be $10,800 correct?
Lady: If in 1 year you spend $10,800 not accounting for inflation, the past 15 years puts your spending at $162,000 correct?
Lady: Do you know that if you hadn’t drank, that money could have been put in a step-up interest savings account and after accounting for compound interest for the past 15 years, you could have now bought a Ferrari?
Man: Do you drink?
Man: Where’s your Ferrari?
I like this joke for a lot of reasons. For starters, it’s funny. Financial situations and alcoholism is clearly inappropriate first date talk, this woman is irritatingly annoying, and the man is most likely drunk during the entirety of the conversation- at least in my mind, because that makes it funnier to me. But the main reason I like this joke so much is because what this fictitious man spends on alcohol a month is roughly what I owe NJClass Loan every month. (This is since my consolidation, which brought my payments from about $1,200 a month to around $800.) Therefore, if the female Will Hunting has her math correct, every one with a job who doesn’t have my loan payments should be driving around in a cherry red Ferrari. But that isn’t the case. And that isn’t the case for many reasons, but for starters it’s because we believe that we are hindered by allocated funds a lot more than we actually are.
For example, I pay $900 a month to NJClass, or a monkey living in a tent in Africa for all I know; all I know is every month that money isn’t mine. It might as well turn into dust and drift away in the wind. And for the first few months I had to say goodbye, it really, really bothered me. I thought about all of the fun stuff we could do together, all of the nice, exotic places we could go. I felt like I earned that money fair and square, and that I was being punished for not understanding a complicated, twisted world at the naive age of seventeen. However, it also forced me to accept the reality that it wasn’t mine and it was never going to be mine for the next thirty years of my life. Therefore, I sat down and started a budget.
I started this budget while working at a photography studio in Philadelphia, where I was making significantly less than I am now. After paying all of my bills for the month, I was able to put away $50 dollars a month into a savings account. It wasn’t a lot, but it was something. I also put aside about $100 for activities for the month. I made sure I continued to do fun things, and spent time with friends, but I was just more cautious.
I also thought of innovative, creative ways to make a little extra money, like doing social media and online marketing for a small vintage boutique, and making jewelry and key chains that I sold on “Etsy.” Those side projects were fun to me, and they didn’t feel like work. Finding something you naturally enjoy and turning them into a side business is something I sincerely recommend. If it becomes something bigger- great. If it doesn’t, you still made a little extra money doing it. Win-Win.
Getting to the point: I had friends with less debt, to no debt, who haven’t saved a penny. They spent all of their money every month because they lacked the feeling of responsibility that I was basically forced to inherit due to my massive debt. At the end of the month, I had $50 and they had nothing, even though I had a $900 dollar loan payment! I even know friends who were living with their parents, without rent or loans, who have not a dime saved in the bank.
This applies to any debt payment. The bottom line is, don’t envy those without debt and believe that your life would be so different without it. If anything, feel lucky that you have a wake up call to be more fiscally responsible. Put some money aside to have fun with, and some aside to put away, and live in moderation. In actuality, we don’t need as many material possessions as we think we do to be happy.
So, the next time you fork over your money to your monthly debt payment, remember… even if you had that money, you still wouldn’t own a Ferrari.