Monday, October 11, 2010

On Growing Up and Prioritizing Money

I  am a social gal by nature. I love to plan and attend gatherings as much as possible. Visiting with friends, meeting new people and seeing new places makes me the happiest I really can be. If I had it my way, my Blackberry would have at least one social outing a week marked down to look forward to, if not two. Bonus if the outing is somewhere I have never been before, or it's my favorite local dive (recently, I am low-key: give me Mexican or Fellini's, and I am a happy camper).

But sometimes, and these days, more often than not, that little word "budget" puts a bit of a damper on my social calendar. I can't always accept invitations, and might have to turn down dinner on the town with 20 of my nearest and dearest in exchange for a little me-time at home. Things as simple as "donate $30 to this charity" or "tickets are only $25" or even "split the cost four ways at $20 each" aren't always that easy when you are watching how you spend your money.

Sometimes, it is a welcome thing. Sometimes, I have had such a busy week, or busy day, that I am okay with "having" to chill out at home. Sometimes, there's nothing more I'd like to do than watch my TiVo reruns of Gossip Girl, or read a book, or, imagine this, do nothing at all and just relax! Most times, my inner-socialite doesn't want that to happen, especially if I am in the mood to get out and about, meet and greet, and wine and dine. But sometimes, as much as it might pain you (read: me), you just gotta roll with the punches.

I know a number of local bloggers and other friends that are in similar age brackets to mine. They have similar jobs, and are busy climbing the corporate ladder while building a young professional network of friends, just like me. The sheer amount of social things some of them can keep up, however, with is amazing to me. It's like they won the lottery with the amount of things they do in their free time! Meals out, shopping trips galore, trips to other cities -- each thing is bigger and better.

Then I think through it all -- and realize that for every question I ask myself, there's a likely rationale answer.

Where do these 20-somethings get the money to go out for dinner and drinks four nights a week? You have a mortgage and bills for a luxury high-rise, Katherine.
Why can't I go to that hot new restaurant opening, too? You just spent some serious "fun money" on football season tickets and a cruise, Katherine.
I want those Fall knee-high boots from JCrew, and that fantastic winter coat from Banana Republic. You just bought groceries for four gourmet meals to make at home this week, instead, Katherine.

My inner-self isn't so fun, sometimes. But it does like to remind me that we all make choices on how we spend our money. Some people choose to rent their homes and lease their cars, others to buy. While some love to cook at home, others live to try the newest places in town. No one method of spending money is right -- it's right for the person doing it, and that's all that matters.

And you know what? For me right now, I have to remember where my money is going, what things matter most, and prioritize accordingly. I'm not going to limit myself completely (a girl earns that occasional Starbucks or Happy Hour with friends, after all), but it's time for me to get back to Budget Basics 101 for a little while. 

What things hold priority in your life and your budget right now?


Lauren said...

This is so true for so many of us Katherine! I am in the same boat, I sometimes wonder HOW people are going out 5-6 nights a week, shopping all the time, etc, etc, etc. But then I remember that I have student loans... And a brand new Audi... And a credit card from some big purchases and car repairs on my old Jeep... And I also have a lot of nice things... And I am a more laid-back, appetizer and one glass of wine person, and I'm not so envious anymore. It's hard to budget, especially at our age, but I often think that some of those people who are out doing fabulous things every night of the week are either in major debt, or their parents are still helping them out with things like car insurance/payment, or even their rent!

Joslyn Fagan said...

Add a kid into the mix. Now when i wonder why I can't afford fun nights out like I used to I say "you just bought a boatload of diapers that will only last a week" or "The baby needed new shoes for his wide feet at $50 a pop" or "you don't even have the energy to go out anymore so why worry about where the money went" - ha ha. Priorities definitely change the older you get and the more you add to your life.

Pam-tastic! said...

Couldn't agree more. I sometimes I look at my calendar and see one night during the week where I have nothing scheduled, and my first instinct is to say "What are my friends doing that night? What cool events could I go to? Which restaurants have great specials?" It takes a lot to remind myself it's OK to do nothing. In fact, I need days to do nothing to just re-balance myself.

Unknown said...

Lauren - I like your approach of the wine and appetizers :) And I totally agree - we never really know how people are feeding their fun. All the more props to them if they are really funding it themselves I guess haha.

Unknown said...

Jos - you are too funny!! Those babies sure are expensive :P :P

And Pam - I have that same mental battle, even more so during the pretty months of the year when people are all doing fun things outdoors! Recently, I have tried limiting those outings to just places I have coupons/Scoutmob/etc for - that makes it more beneficial financially!

Dyar Baby Momma said...

Good for you on understanding you are making choices!! So many people don't... and I do often pick new things to do by finding them on discount sites as someone mentioned..

We need to be better at budgeting - sigh. Thanks for reminder!

Unknown said...

Kelly - thanks! Making those choices is very hard sometimes, especially when I am staring at the latest catalogs for fashion and decor :P Budgeting can be hard, but pays off in the end as we all know!