I'm singing the tile of this entry as I type. It's a line from that danceable Mary J. Blige song, "Family Affair".
Why am I singing this? Well, where to start. We all know this economy is in deep $hit, right? We all know someone who's lost their job in the last year, right? We all know that even those of us who do have jobs know that we better be smarter about our money 'cuz we don't know what the future holds, right? So...what's wrong with saying so?
Suze Orman got it right: live below your means, which she talks about in her newest book, The Money Class. This book came into my lap (OK, after I checked it out from the library) at the right time. With my 33rd birthday coming up this fall and all these little aches and pains in my body not going away as quickly as they used to, I knew that I had to face reality: I'm not a spring chicken. I'm not old, but I need to grow up. I have money, but not a bottomless pool of it. Especially with the physical nature of my job, I will have to retire someday. And when I do, I want to go on cruises all around the world and pay for them in cash, just like my parents did. So I got to thinking that I need to put away more for my retirement.
As if God decided I needed more inspiration, He sent me a new patient on my caseload: a woman a few years older than me who relies on her parents for her basic needs and can't support her own child. The culprit: a shopping addiction. She buys multiple copies of the same piece of clothing and just ALWAYS has the need to buy, buy, buy. There have been others, but she's a perfect example for what I have to say next. She's not alone...if you're on tpf, you KNOW who I'm talking about. And there are thousands of them. They worship Kim Kardashian and her sisters. They want what the Kardashians have and surround themselves with others who do, too. So they buy to keep up, then somehow owning multiple pairs of Christian Louboutins and Chanel bags becomes the norm. Get out from behind your computer screen and immerse yourself in the real world (not LA!). It is NOT the norm. And even if you think you can afford your shoes and bags, really re-think that. Would you have to take the bus for a month or beg your boyfriend or sister for rides if your transmission broke down? Are you relegated to opening the windows and lounging around your apartment naked or hanging out at the mall (bad idea for those tpfers!) in the dead of summer because you're trying to avoid an AC bill? Think about it.
I posted this thought on tpf. And boy, did I get a backlash from 3 tpfers! One said I was being too preachy, another said I should butt out of people's business (the 3rd just agreed with them). Okaaaay...I was just telling it like it is, and if you default on your credit card payments or stop paying them altogther, the rest of us responsible folks have to pick up the slack. Are you listening, Theresa Giudice?! I was so upset, thinking, What did I do wrong? Then, the barrage of PMs poured in. Women I met only once or who have never met me at all offered me their virtual shoulders to cry on. They basically said I was right on and they knew I was only trying to help. That's what I'm all about---heck, that's how I got into the career I have now. All I've ever wanted to do was help...it was never about the money. I always did well in school and had a good work ethic, so people told me I was crazy to not go into a "big money" field, but I didn't care. And guess what?! Now I'm making more than 3 times as much the average 32-year-old American with a college degree. And I've no one to support except myself. Every day (well, except Sundays, when they don't deliver mail in the US), my mailbox is full of offers from companies begging me to work for them. They're so desperate to hire me, they'll take even 5 hours of my time a month! I've been offered upwards of $20K as sign-on bonus. Yes, even in this $hitty economy! But why? Because there's demand for my services all over the world, and there aren't enough people with the training and skills to perform them. And I'm good at it, too ;)
So for you who tried to throw the fact that I own a Birkin bag (2, actually) in my face, stop hating. It's you who brought up the fact in the first place, but if you must know, read the above paragraph. I bought the Birkins back in my carefree 20-something years. I was able to afford them then (saving from money gifts and my generous salary) and can afford my D&G dress and CL shoes now, but I believe there's always room for improvement. Why settle for a decent retirement when you can have a FANTASTIC one?
For the lovers, I love you right back. Please continue to share your love with everyone around you. This world needs you more than ever. Take care and may many blessings be showered on you, in whatever form you want them to take!