I think I have an addiction to money. I check my finances two to three times a week. I don’t get joy from making a purchase; I get joy from saving a dollar. I get a little thrill every time I log into my accounts, do the math, and see how far I’ve come with my savings.
I’m not sure exactly how it began. As far back as I can remember, I wanted to save every penny I had. As a kid, all my birthday money would get deposited in the bank. It came to a point where my grandmother wouldn’t send me money, she would insist that we go out together to spend it. I hated that. I wanted to put my money in the bank; I wanted to watch it grow.
As a child, my mom spent a lot of time with me teaching me the value of a dollar. We would play “store” where I would price items from around the house and she’d come buy them from me. Then we’d switch and I’d buy them from her. When we went to real stores, she’d teach me to read the unit costs and she’d show me how to determine the best price for each item. We’d shop the clearance racks together and get excited about all the clothes we could buy for such low prices. We’d buy sweaters in the Spring and skirts in the Fall ... imagine how exciting it is to go in your closet for something to wear and find brand new items that you forgot you purchased.
Now I’m twenty-eight years old and I consider myself very financially secure. I’ve been called cheap, frugal, Jewish (which I’m not), thrifty, you name it, I’ve heard it. The thing is, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. I go into the grocery store with a list and my coupons and I walk out feeling like a professional shopper. I get what’s on my list and rarely buy anything extra. I stock up when there are sales so that I don’t have to buy things when they’re not on sale.
I have price points for everything. For example, I won’t pay more than $1.99 for cookies. If they’re more than that, I don’t need them. But when they do go on sale, I’ll buy four boxes. I currently have twelve boxes of cereal in my cabinet because there were quite a few sales in a row and I couldn’t resist stocking up.
I get in arguments with my family and friends that insist that I should spend more money and maybe I’d be happier. I get offended that people assume that I’m not happy. I’m filled with joy and pride each and every time I look at my financial statements and know that I won’t ever have to depend on anyone else to take care of me. The thing is, when I want to do something, I will do it if it’s important enough to me. I know how to weigh my options and I know how to enjoy life.
It makes me sad when my grandparents tell me I can’t take my money to the grave. It makes me sad that they can’t see that this is something I’m proud of. I recently reached a point where I felt that I had a decent amount of savings in the event of an emergency and I was ready to set a new goal. I want to pay off my mortgage. As a compromise to myself because savings is still important to me, I split what’s leftover at the end of each month, half goes to savings and half goes to my mortgage principal. I started this goal in the beginning of 2009 and I’m so proud to have paid quite a nice chunk of change to my mortgage.
So maybe people don’t understand me and think that I’m not happy, but I’m proud of myself and I know that my mom is proud of me. And the little girl inside me says that that’s all that really matters. Feeling good about myself is much better than buying the latest trend to hang in my closet.