While growing up, I couldn’t wait to be a grown-up. Sometime during my teens I literally became allergic to the word “no”. Especially if it was my mom who said it and if it was related to a request for the cell-phone I wanted. My mom’s stubbornness, frugality and her inability to see the vision of me being a cool kid was the bane of my existence. I craved for freedom from a dictatorship. I wanted to join the gang that pinged classmates during Afrikaans speeches because it was funny. But most of all, I wanted money. I was even realistic. I only wished to have enough for whatever I needed when I needed it. Not a gazillion dollars chilling in the account for no reason.
But I had to grow up, I had no choice.
Fast forward to January 2018 when my first salary was paid in – I felt like I had made it. Look, money is exciting. Getting it and spending it rouses that inner bubble of heightened excitement that, depending on your spending habits, could be the ticket to a wild ride through the entire mall. Or, if you’re like me, tempts you into checking out your entire cart on that online store. Note I said getting it, not making it. That’s the boring part. I remember looking at all this money that I had and matching it to those things I wanted. Those black heels: WOW! That luxurious liquid lipstick and that designer fragrance: YUM. Oh and that gorgeous bedding, shawl for mom and that book by Paulo Coelho.
Sigh. I wish I could say I stuck to my budget but I owe you all honesty. I spent it on frivolous beauty products, magazines and pens, forgetting about transport costs and other necessities. When it finished, I was shook! Like where did it all go? And why do I have a bunch of useless stuff? Remember the doll you wanted so badly for a long time and when you finally got it, it was like meh? The thought of having it was more exciting than when you actually got it? Getting my own money was a little like that.
So I tried to be smart. “I’ll only shop at sales,” I told myself. It’s discounted so it’s okay that I am getting 10 pocket tissue packs at once. It worked until I realised that because of the economy and the need to please consumers, sales were more frequent – but my money wasn’t. My outlook changed from wanting to spend everything to almost being afraid to use my money. Looking back, I could’ve been wiser with money in terms of buying what I really needed instead of trying to even the score of yeses to the nos my mom said through my childhood. I don’t regret it though. I lived my best life for a while. And I learned from that experience.
My reality is, there is only so much I can buy. It’s good to splurge here and there, but financial discipline will have you in good standing later and will help you become the Miss Independent you seek to be. I’ve learnt that good financial practice is also mental healthcare. I don’t get anxieties about lacking funds anymore and it has helped me look at what I really want vs what I need in life from of friends, career and experiences. I’ve realised that saving is equally exciting. Watching that small bit grow into a sizable sum is exhilarating especially because my goal for it feels more tangible than ever. But I still have my spontaneous ice-cream escapades. It’s all about balance.