From the outside, it doesn’t look like I’ve done a whole lot this week in terms of travel prep. Mostly I’ve been promising myself up and down I wouldn’t spend any more money and then not delivering on that promise.
Payday this month is a Monday, which is crap because it usually means I’m out of cash for the weekend. YES, I AM 31 AND THAT STILL HAPPENS. And no matter how much I look at my budget and my wallet and try to convince myself that this will be the month I will be better at a budget, it just doesn’t happen, because life does not follow some arbitrary guidelines I set and it never will. Then I start getting really irritated about all the advice about how you SHOULD sort out your finances and have an emergency fund and savings and retirement money and spend the same amount every freaking month because who on EARTH is able to do that for real?
I don’t think I’m terrible with money. I’ve managed to do a lot of what I wanted to do and pay for it myself while maintaining a pretty normal life. I don’t buy a lot of clothes. I certainly don’t go shopping for the fun of it. I make most of my own food. I don’t take taxis or drink in overpriced crappy clubs. I’m overall pretty sensible on a day to day basis. But I still constantly feel like I’m one step behind where I want to be with my own finances. From what I can tell, this is probably pretty normal, so why does it feel like anxiety and failure?
I spent a lot of time this week scratching figures on scrap paper, adding and subtracting and projecting and worrying that I’m not going to have what I want to have before I go off on all my trains. And knowing full well that no matter how much I say I’m not going to buy things that aren’t related to my trip between now and then, that it will be a bold-faced lie. Beyond the fact that there are clothes I need and bits and pieces that come with being a new bike owner and all that, there is the business of living.
This Wednesday was the first incredibly warm, sunny day we’ve had in ages (YAY!) and I was determined to spend as much of it sitting outside in the Meadows in the sun. And despite the fact that I had brought all my own dinner picnicking food so that I wouldn’t have to spend anything, I realised I had no sunscreen, and unless I want to be completely red, in pain, and at higher risk of cancer in about 15 minutes, my transparent skin and I NEED factor 50. It is not an option. And forgoing sitting in the sunshine because I refuse to spend £7.50 on sunscreen is about the most depressing idea I can think of when Scotland is at long last creeping into summer.
This weekend wasn’t even some massive crazy money-spending spree. I stayed in with my friends and sewed myself a top for a Hawaiian-themed social dance next Sunday. But it was the first time I’ve seen Alex in a year and a half, and so when we all want to go for dinner and drinks in the pub, my budget is not going to say no, and my lack of cash is just going to say, ‘WHATUP, CREDIT CARD?’
I suppose you could say if I was a more responsible person I’d find a constructive way to avoid spending some of that money, but at what other cost? Spending time with people or erasing the suckiness of spending a day sitting at a computer by being outdoors is often more important than worrying about how I need to have more for train food. I mean, there’s not a WHOLE lot to spend money on while on a train.
I’m sure I’ll work out the money thing. And I’m sure a lot of my freaking out is due to the fact that I’ve just front-loaded a lot of my spending for the next 5 months by paying for 3 different dance events and a bicycle within a month. It will even itself out. I just still don’t feel like I’m doing a great job at having financial will power. And I probably never will.
In related news, I should probably pick up some freelance work.