Financing an Adventurous Girl

by Jane Moneypenny

I have a spending problem.

No, it’s not the normal kind of shopaholics, layaways or rich people. It’s some bizarre continual guilt about spending money or buying things. Ever since I was a child, I was always worried about money and I’m not sure why. I grew up in a typical middle-class family, was lucky enough to attend private schools and went to a great college. I never asked my parents for things and they always told me to stop worrying since it was their job to think about the finances. I don’t consider myself cheap (if anything, I spend more money on my friends than myself), but have always been frugal.

When I first started working after college, it took awhile to adjust to a higher income and the idea that quality is more important. In the last year, however, the guilt has increased. It nags and nags me and I have no idea how to quiet it down. Maybe it’s because I’m quitting a well-paying job with benefits for the heck of it and to go “discover myself” and explore this much-needed break. Maybe it’s guilt of having no income when I’m the only one supporting my family (let it be noted, I am no way bitter or angry or feel it a burden). My parents fully support my decision to make this giant change; in fact, they were the ones that encouraged me to relax and take some time out to travel. Guilt, guilt, guilt.

It’s driving me insane to have these constant feeling in my chest. It completely clashes against my love of adventure and trying new things. Guilt about dropping a load of money for a Europe ticket (even though it’s a life dream and I know it’s worth it), for a awesome backpack, for all the moving fees, for new tires on my car and now, new clothes.

I was part of a friend’s garage sale today and while going through everything, I managed to pack up 60% of my clothing. To most, this is a shocking thing for a girl to do, but I’m not lying when I say, even with that 60%, all my clothes could probably fit into 2 large suitcases. I only own about 10 pairs of shoes (half of these are probably flip flops/tennis shoes) and even fewer purses. For the longest time, I thought this was normal! But then I saw my friend’s pile at the garage sale and I was blown away. She was selling about 30 pairs of shoes and that barely made a dent in her collection that she was keeping. Same with purses and clothing. I must have missed out on some key gene for accessories. Or it was 12 years of Catholic school uniforms that has left me with the habit of a small wardrobe (personally, I love uniforms, but it did take awhile to get used to wearing “weekend clothes” daily  when I got to college). Name brands mean nothing to me (unless it’s computer/tech equipment) and the most compliments I get about jewelry/clothing are usually things I’ve picked up at Target.

Don’t get me wrong, I like nice things. I’ll willingly spend money on things I know will go into use often (yes, I’ll still feel guilty). Skydiving would really be a thrill. I would love a new digital camera for Europe, but my current one works fine; I would love that new Apple MacBook, but my old school Powerbook is still ticking along. I’ll use things until their timely death, even a favorite tshirt with a hole. So the fact that I willingly gave away most of my clothes to the garage sale and Salvation Army (I only made $17, sadly) is a good sign I’m growing up. But the guilt! I had clothes that I still fit, but no longer wore and now I have a shrunken wardrobe and a much needed shopping trip. Guilt, guilt, guilt.

Maybe it’s Catholic guilt, even though eating dessert has nothing to do with religion. I had severe survivors’ guilt after Katrina; most of my friends lost everything and our house still stood with minimal flooding. Maybe the reason isn’t important. I don’t know. I’m too exhausted constantly worrying. Even my financial advisor said the fact I started saving at such a young age meant I would be fine by the time I retire. I have married friends that have yet to set up a savings account, but it’s fruitless to compare myself to others or say “Well, at least you don’t…”