Sunday, May 6, 2012

On privilege & buying rompers (I used to also think they're ugly but changed my mind)

I feel the need to follow my last post with some thoughts on privilege. A friend of my boyfriend’s recently told me that he had come across my blog and that it was “personal … and finance-y” – well yeah, that’s exactly what it promises to be. But I can understand the undercurrent of “well, why would anyone but your mom want to read this blog in that case?” It’s true – this blog very selfishly focuses on me, me, me – in a way that’s not always very interesting. And I grapple with whether anything I have to say on finance belongs on a public blog, given the content is mostly personal and often mundane, and that I’m, well, completely unqualified to advise anyone on financial issues. (But don’t worry, none of that stops me.)

And there’s the elephant that’s sitting next to me as I write my blog posts – that I speak from a position of immense privilege. Privilege because I went to a highly-ranked university, had parents that were generous (and able) to pay for my education, and because I both worked my ass off and got lucky with a high-paying job in a metropolitan area. I recognize this and appreciate getting called out on the things I write. I enjoy writing about money and personal finance too much to stop. I’m going to draw an analogy to a show that I don’t even watch, but seems fitting: HBO’s Girls. From what I understand, the show was hyped excessively, and is now dealing with back-lash because a)It’s super white and non-diverse, b) The girls on the show represent the experience of a non-significant minority of people in the US, and c) The writer and actresses come from families in the biz (and nepotism is bad when it benefits women). So this show, and its truth – is out of touch with what others see as their truth, or are interested in watching. What I will try, is to turn this blog into a place with more general thoughts (based obviously on my specific experiences but not stopping there) and maybe even get some discussion going.

To borrow a topic from the Bogleheads forums (a fantastic and slightly terrifying place where people debate the merits of marriage by considering solely economic benefits/drawbacks but also save like champs and have wonderful advice) – let’s talk about ‘the frugal & extravagant things you do’.

The frugal things I do:
1)Buy a huge bag of frozen chicken breasts from Costco, and make 2 of them every weekend with pasta to bring to lunch during the week. (Pro-tip: Pour boiling water on them to de-frost, the outside will cook slightly, meaning your chicken will retain all its juices when cooked)
2)Never take a taxi (unless I have to) – I always take the metro to/from my apartment and the bus station or the airport, even if I can expense a cab. I still feel like a college student, and that cab fares are excessive (even though they’re really not).
3)Rarely buy books. I put tons of books on hold (I have a running list of books I want to read on my phone, currently I’m at 10 on the list, with 6 books on hold and not yet available, and 3 holds available at my library). I have read so many interesting books, and getting them is exceedingly convenient.
4)Stick to beer and wine when I go out. Still gets me drunk (or pleasantly buzzed, whatever the desired outcome) – I leave the nice mixed drinks for company-sponsored events.
5)Buy hand soap, paper towels, and toilet paper in bulk.
6)No land line or paid cable tv–doesn’t seem so much like a frugal move rather than avoidance of totally unnecessary expenses, given my iphone and Netflix +streaming.

The extravagant things I do (this will be fun):
1)Live alone! I am staunch that until my boyfriend moves to DC, I’m not having a roommate (and after we’re living together, no extra roommates or tenants for extra money). For one person – 600 square feet is perfectly spacious, and my freedom is so worth the extra $ every month.
2)Buy things I don’t really need or can’t wear to work – like a super-cute Zara romper.
3)Buy myself fresh raspberries every week. That’s right, I’ll drop five bucks every week for a box like a baller.
4)Live in the city – sure, I might work in Arlington, but despite its higher taxes, DC is more my scene.
5)Eat out – I especially like going to new restaurants, and those that aren’t ubiquitous chains. And when I’m out, I’m going for that glass of wine or lemonade, even though I know buying anything liquid at a restaurant is a complete rip-off.

What about you? Any tips or suggestions for how to spend less money on the areas that don’t matter? Any expensive hobbies that you won’t apologize for?

1 comment:

  1. #3 is a deliciously worthwhile extravagance :)