Stick in the Mud: Cha-Ching!

My friends will tell you that sometimes I am just no fun. I’m not big on shopping or seeing movies or hitting up the bars. I’m not overly social, don’t mind being alone, and can go days without feeling the urge to leave the house. I’m a homebody, to be sure.

But there is no time I am more unfun than when I’m broke.

What going out I will do becomes non-existent and whatever money I do have goes directly to bills. Do not pass go, do not have a good time.

This frustrates my friends and some of my family to no end, particularly around holidays and my birthday in which I might receive cash as a gift. They get money as a gift and they use it that way. They buy themselves something fun, something they really want.

I get  money, I pay bills. Period.

This sort of practical, responsible behavior drives some people nuts but it makes perfect sense to me. I haven’t had a regular income in nearly three years. Writing hasn’t been half as lucretive as I’d hoped it’d be, and I didn’t think it’d be that lucretive to begin with. I’ve been living off of savings and a credit card. When the savings started to dry up, I turned to selling things on eBay (this is also serves the dual purpose of allowing me to purge some of my stuff as I have a tendency to be a packrat). I’ve had to ask my dad for monetary help several times this past year, several times more than I wanted to ask him. I keep track of all the money I’ve had to borrow off of him or tabs he’s covered for me. Trust me when I say that it’s a lot and I have every intention to completely pay him back. And trust me when I say that my credit card dangerously close to being maxed out, something I never thought would happen. I’ve been looking for work this past year, but haven’t had much luck. The only job I got an interview for turned out to be a bust.

I am broke. Every dollar counts. Every cent I have, I earn, I receive goes to paying bills.

And yet it still baffles people that I don’t spend the money I get as a Christmas gift or a birthday present on something for myself.

First of all, I can’t justify it. When my mom gave me money for tickets to a Cubs game, I only bought the tickets (the cheapest bleacher seats I could get on StubHub) after I made sure I could pay my bills for that month. I admit, I splurged on a twenty dollar shirt for the game. Again, the bills were paid before I did, but I know I could have put it toward the next month’s bills. I did feel guilty about that, but I figured I’d deserved a little something extra since I’d spent so little on the actual tickets. I chalked it up to being part of the gift from my mom.

It’d been months since I’d splurged quite like that and then do you know what I bought? Lunch at McDonald’s. Yep. When a value meal from a fast food joint is considered extravagant, you’re broke.

Secondly, those shiny things I could buy would be nice, but the relief I feel knowing that my bills are paid for another month, that I’ve bought myself some more time to scrape up the money for the next month, that I’ve got some more time to come up with a new plan, sell some more stuff, apply for some more jobs is so much better than any shiny new thing.

I know it’s just money. Eventually (hopefully sooner than later), I’ll be making more of it on a regular basis. I’m not kept from getting something I want for long. I will find a way. I will get my debt paid off and I won’t have to worry about getting my bills paid every month. I’ll return to being my semi-reclusive, frugal self rather than the totally reclusive, miserly self I am right now.

Until then, so long as my friends and family give me money as gifts, I’m going to continue to disappoint them by putting obligation before pleasure.

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