For the love of money

The idea of liking/loving money has come up in a few of the financial feeds I follow, and it’s reminded me to write my thoughts on this topic.

I don’t love money, but I like knowing I have it and can make more of it. It was kind of nerve-wracking to be in graduate school and not know if all the money I was spending on my education would be worth it at the end. It was worth it in terms of the knowledge I gained for myself, but would it actually pay off as an investment? It did, for which I am forever thankful. But what about those who say they hate money?

I find that people who say they hate money generally don’t have much of it. They have to work hard for it, and it’s gone before they even enjoyed having it in the bank. Living paycheck to paycheck would not be my idea of a good time. Some people feel like they can never get ahead, and I feel for them.

I was at a bar a few months ago and they had a band that evening. The band introduced one of their songs by saying something like, “I read that to be middle class in America today you have to make $75,000 a year. F*** that, and f*** money!” and many of my friends cheered along with the crowd at this comment. I felt pretty weird since I’ve actually worked to become middle class. Not intentionally to reach the goal of being middle class, but to have a comfortable existence where I can do the things I want and enjoy life without the worry that comes with being broke as a joke. I realize that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but disparaging people who have money? That didn’t sit well with me.

I’m not sure that there’s a genuine conclusion to this commentary, but I do think it’s important to have a healthy attitude toward money. Not a miser, but not hating it, either. Working to live and not living to work. It’s a balance.

New Year’s Resolutions

I have to be honest and say I didn’t make a single new year’s resolution. The thing is, I already exercise regularly (and love it! So weird!) and have some pretty big goals in life (which I track at 43things), and on top of that, we have our financial plan which is a constant project. I literally look at our spreadsheets every day; it helps remind me what we’re working towards.

Every time I get an e-mail from the likes of J.Crew or Zappos, I think, “I could get those shoes/that dress/those jeans, but then what would our budget look like? How many months would that set us back?” That sounds kind of depressing, but it’s actually energizing. Resisting buying something supposedly small, like under $50, really adds up when you think that I probably have that urge almost every day. Even if I only spent $20 extra a few times a week, I’d be spending about $250 on… nothing much. I have plenty of clothes, I don’t need much other than the basics, and my idea of fun is reading.

We started the debt snowball in September 2009 after my husband’s aunt recommended his books to us at a family reunion. It’s only been 16 months, but we’ve accomplished so much. Honestly, when we stop to think about it, we’re really proud of what we’ve done. We’ll both turn 30 in 2011, and I’m pretty pleased with where we are. The plan is to pay off about $20K in debt this year, which sounds just insane on our modest incomes, but I know we can do it, one month at a time. As Bob would say, “Baby steps, baby steps…”