A blog about spending wisely in your twenties, with advice on everything from cooking to saving money on gas; how to teach yourself to save money instead of spending it, traveling without breaking the bank, and much more.

Monday, March 17, 2008

On Clean Lungs

In the past six months I've learned to live below my means and I've quit smoking. I've been bouncing from apartment to apartment almost annually since 2002, and in September of 2007 I finally settled (I hope!) into renting a house (an actual HOUSE!) on a (man-made) lake in sunny Orange County. About the same time, I inherited my mother's copy of 'The Tightwad Gazette' - a book of hers that I'd thumbed through incessantly as a kid, fascinated with the concept that washing out ziploc bags could save money.

Of course, I promptly dumped that knowledge at 18 when I moved screaming out of my parents' house into my first apartment. I dug myself a nasty hole those first few years, the crowning achievement of which was financing a car just 2 months shy of my nineteenth birthday with an interest rate so high I'm sure the international space station astronauts could see it outside. I spent money like I didn't have to work for it and most of that was crap I've long since donated or sold for a fraction of it's original price.

Eventually my tightwad upbringing caught up to me. Little by little, concepts from Dacyzyn's books would leak their way into my everyday habits. The thought of throwing something away that might be useful? Physically painful. I slowly came to realize that for 5 years I'd been buying stuff I wanted, not stuff I needed- and that I was buying crappy versions of the things I needed so I could have fancy versions of the stuff I just wanted.

As I curbed my spending habits and began to spend more wisely, the fact that most of my peers do not do this became more and more apparent. Even those who aren't spending frivolously are not spending smart.

It is for their sake that I'm writing this blog. Some of my friends really like Frappucinos. Some of them really like designer shit. But none of them like to hear my constant refrains:

"Seriously, don't buy a frapp, you might as well burn $5 and I have a blender at home!"
"You're buying an already overpriced designer handbag new?? You might as well torch $300!!"

I quit smoking (mostly) two weeks ago and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. The patch seems to have broken me of the physical addiction, and my desire to not spend idiotically is a strong damper for the mental addiction. Co-workers and friends keep asking me why I quit and the simplest answer is the inspiration for this blog: "Well, I might as well have been burning $5 bills."

I'll be writing about what makes us want to spend and why we feel that we must have things we don't need; how to teach ourselves to spend more intelligently, spending's effects on relationships, the differences between wants and needs plus more - all held together by practical advice including tips, recipes, links, DIY instructions, and more!


Lindsay said...

Good for you! Erik keeps talking about quitting, which of course I'm encouraging... And for him, too, of all the reasons to quit, money is the biggest one! When you actually sit and calculate what you're throwing down the drain...eek!

Erika said...

Yay! I haven't smoked in almost 2 months. Good for us. We were kind of ridiculous to spend so much. I love that you have started this blog. I admire you so much Maggie! :-)