In college, a good friend of mine once said “Money comes and goes: spend it like you got it.”
It’s important to note that this friend was not a financial advisor, and that she really only intended it to be applied to the conversation at hand (which was: do we buy a plastic bottle of vodka, or a classy handle of Smirnoff?). I don’t think she realized that I would take these words to heart in every area of my life for the next decade.
The scenario: Graduated college with one of those “in low demand” degrees and no money.
The spend: A cross country move to Los Angeles, inclusive of a year lease in the nice area of town.
The reason this was necessary: I had never been to LA and I found a cheap plane ticket. So…if I had waited until things were more financially sound, I would have really just been waiting for air travel to become more expensive. That would have been irresponsible.
The scenario: Left the house for a hair cut.
The spend: Came back with a Lexus.
The reason this was necessary: My hairdresser knew a guy…AND I was planning on getting a car within the next few years anyway. It would have been a waste of money to wait/plan.
Feb 2009, Feb 2010, Feb 2011:
The scenario: It’s almost Oscars!
The spend: Oscar party dresses that were more than my rent.
The reason this was necessary: (2009) I have to look good during Oscars. Prime networking. Plus, I’ll just wear it again next year. (2010) I can’t wear that again because what if someone saw me last year in it. I’ll just wear the one from last year next year because by then it will be forgotten. (2011) Herve Leger is so 2009.
The scenario: Completely unemployed.
The spend: Travel to Europe on preferred airline and a new iMac (separate unrelated purchases within 2 hours of one another).
The reason this was necessary: When am I really going to have this time again to go to Europe for two weeks? The cost of taking those days off the next time I have a job really just adds to the cost of the trip, so this is the smart time to do it. By spending an extra hundred dollars on the airline where I have status, I am really just saving the money of paying for an upgrade, right? And I needed a new computer…sort of. Mine was pretty slow. And if its slow, I’ll get less work done and therefore make less money, which is pretty much career suicide…and all my friends would make fun of me if I got a Dell.
Rationally, this makes no sense. I clip and use coupons at a level that is embarrassing for a non-octogenarian, and I rarely valet if there’s parking within a 3 mile radius.
But really, it’s all just numbers, right? And as someone who has never really been a numbers person, I say - what do these numbers matter if you have all this great stuff to distract you? Whether your bank account is in the red or the green should only matter if you are completely racist. I see no color in matters of finance: you should be ashamed if you do.
So…spend it like you got it. I want my children to grow up in a world where the color of their mother’s bank account does not matter…until they inherit the debt.