I’d like to think that I have a fairly healthy relationship with Money, but as usual, I’m probably wrong. I’m definitely more comfortable carrying a bit of debt than most, and easily spend without guilt – though I wouldn’t ever qualify my spending or debt as out of control. However, this relationship has matured over the years from what once was an incredibly frugal nature. Nancy, frugal?
When I was very young, I developed a premautre concern about money. I was raised in a middle-class family, but never was left to want for anything – so I’m really not sure why I was always worried. My Mom is a supreme Bargain Hunter (why buy one expensive top when you can have a whole outfit instead?) and showed me the ropes of shopping at Winners – an intangible lifelong skill. I distinctly remember though that anytime we were out shopping, I never wanted anything and was happy to go home empty handed. The rare occasion that I did find something, I’d always offer to chip in whatever measly savings I had. Such a humble child.
Boy how things have changed. I now have to actively keep myself busy at the lunch hour because my office is dangerously close to 4 Winners stores (two by foot, one by streetcar, one by subway – several more if I extend my lunch hour) as well as the Eaton Centre. My youthful reserve has gone the way of my dignity, never to be heard from again. I have a ridiculous collection of all things clothing, footwear, handbag, cosmetic and accessory related. I also have a penchant for vacationing.
Now, things obviously didn’t go from zero to sixty – there were definitely growing pains that came with the slowly developing freedom of my teenage and young adult years, and the disposable income that came along with them. Prior to moving out of the house, I was definitely still a very frugal and a big Saver and hadn”t yet donned my Spender hat. When I moved out to Whistler however, and had to pay for toilet paper for the first time, things started to evolve. While things were changing though, I was still acutely concious of how I was spending my money. I’m pretty sure this is when I started my fiscal habit of managing my money by comparing it to something of value.
To break this down for you: If I recieved a $20 tip, I calculated this as 5 beer – since beer was of highest value to me in Whistler (I pretty much lived off Bread, Butter and Beer). Do I really need that Roxy shirt? Its worth like almost 15 beer?
Counting money in beer lasted through Whistler, University and my first year in my Career. Obviously, as the years progressed, the value of one beer slowly increased. Damn inflation. However, without conciously trying to, I’d always have an idea of how much beer something was worth. I’m starting to sound like an alcoholic, bare with me.
As my levels of disposable income started to increase, as did my expenditures, I started to incorprate new somethings of value into my equation. I would count Vacations by number of Rents (Wow! I’m going on a cruise for less than August’s rent!), or an expensive outfit by its fractional value of a Vacation (Do I really need that skirt? Its like 1/5 of my flight to Vancouver). I still do find that I’ll have affixed a ‘Beer’ price to certain things, but that is happening less and less.
I noticed recently that with my upcoming Mortgage, I now have a new something of value to start counting in! I was actually excited when I heard myself state to my Mother Peggy “That would be like 1.5 Mortgage Payments.” Thankfully though, saying that out loud doesn’t cause the same level of embarrassment as stating loudly at Costco that, while you know its a deal, spending 8 beer on toilet paper is a scam.
I wonder what my next something of value will be?