Let’s be honest. Sometimes being budget glamorous is great fun and other times it really stinks.
There are times when I get frustrated that I can’t just eat out all the time, buy buckets of expensive IPA beer, drop a wad of cash on some delightfully inappropriate fur vest or just take off this Christmas to some warm beach for a couple of weeks.
I would like to have all those things on command. But instead I choose to work toward being budget glam instead. Why? Well, even before we get to the pissing and moaning about treats, there are more basic things that need addressed. A few trees need trimmed or removed. The roof and deck need replacing. The car will not last forever (though it’s a tough little coot and is doing well so far). I’d like to have Lasik eye surgery. There is always something that needs replacing or an unexpected bill (like the boy’s $1400 hospital bill that is coming out of my pocket since the insurance company won’t pay a dime for his MRI, even though a head trauma practically requires one these days). It’s easy to feel underwater when looking at one’s debt load, even if that debt was taken on for “good” reasons. Debt is still debt, and a mortgage (“dead pledge,” after all, in French), student loan debt, divorce settlement debt, or whatever debt can feel like a ball and chain. My salary is adequate for living, and not much more than that. It takes creativity to put back an emergency fund, save anything for retirement and have a little fun on the money I make. Nine months worth of pay has to be stretched over 12 months of living.
But beyond the basics that need cared for and the debt that needs to die, there are more inspirational reasons I work to maintain my budget glamour.
- I want freedom over my own life. For me, this means being free of debt so that if I must live on a severely reduced income, we won’t starve, lose the house, or face any other serious unpleasantness. I’ve worked third shift truck stop waitress jobs, factory jobs, 9 – 5 office jobs, helped run nonprofits, and now the weirdly-houred but still just as much work teaching job. I would rather work nonprofit and only have to worry about the groceries and the light utilities I have than I would want to go back to those sorts of jobs that are only a few dollars over minimum wage if you’re lucky. I had to work those kinds of jobs even *with* two bachelor’s degrees, people.
- I want to travel. Maybe it was growing up in the cracks of the Appalachian mountains that did it, but even as a little girl I longed for exotic destinations. The African serengeti, equatorial jungles, faded Eastern European capital cities — oh yeah, and Italy from top to bottom. I plan on writing many more posts about budget travel, as I have figured a few things out about doing that while also, you know, paying on your death pledge. I would rather pack in my coffee and lunches and save that money toward Central America for a few weeks. It’s a real inspiration.
- I want to write. I love to write. Writing, like travel, was something I’ve always wanted as a constant in my life. I managed to publish a flash fiction story and present some academic work at the 4 C’s. It was exhilarating. I wrote for the local newspaper for a while. For several years I happily ran a different blog. I like writing in all its genres. If I clear out the debt and make a few other glamorous maneuvers, I will be able to write more and work at other things less — something that would make me very happy indeed. I’m not foolish (or young and without responsibilities) enough, however, to be a starving artist.
- I want to start an urban homestead. Yup, complete with chicky-wickens in the back yard. I want to grow my own food, can it, and eat it with smug superiority in February. I want to save seeds, make sauerkraut and pickles and have a little attached greenhouse where I can grow things year-round. I might even get into aquaponics. Enough with Tyson products and McNasty already. Let’s grow some real food! I want to grow flowers of every kind, enjoy my butterfly garden and create edible landscaping. I want to show a model of how that can be done right in the middle of town. After all, I’m within city limits. In order to make this happen, start up money has to be diverted from things like furry vests into things like lumber.
But what a glamorous little life that would be, indeed! Why do you strive to stay budget glam?