Tuesday, June 19, 2012

things we don't talk about: money

Growing up with a VERY SOUTHERN MOTHER, I was taught that there are a few things you don't talk about in mixed company (mixed company being anyone who isn't good as blood related to you). These things include adoption, sex, religion, and most importantly--money. Now, having lived in NYC for almost six years has changed this some. New Yorkers talk about money in a very specific way. We talk about rent. Rent control, rent stabilization, rent increases, renters strikes, and so on and so fourth. In some ways it is the great equalizer, just about everyone you know will have a story about their first overpriced apartment with a hole in the ceiling. But there is always that person you know who managed to inherent their aunt so and so's 300$ rent controlled apartment in XYZ neighborhood, reflecting a special sort of NYC real estate nepotism. So, while I have learned to talk about rent (and except that I might never luck out in the rent lottery), I still have a hard time with money.

My parents are very good with their money. Other than a mortgage they never had large amounts of debt,  almost always bough their cars outright, and  never carried a balance on their credit cards. But somehow I didn't manage to absorb this. I'm not awful with my money, I just seem to always be out of it. I have been trying to be a better budget-er lately, writing down all the money I spend, working overtime when it is offered to me, and resisting sample sales.

Recently my need for a new computer has made sticking to a budget even more important. Because I am always so broke, I can never justify making a big purchase.  But I have a bad habit of treating myself to little extravagances, like fancy lipsticks, but these little extravagances add up. So, I have started thinking of things in terms of lipstick, and I think its a pretty good system. For example, a new computer + apple care will be about equal to 55 lipsticks. So, if I can resist buying the next 55 lipsticks I want I can buy a new computer.