Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Price of Life

After coming across a significant error in our year's budget, and realizing that this summer, once again, will be one of our poorest times, ever, I've been contemplating a lot about money.
Essentially, money buys us freedom and we, in a consumer-driven-world, have put a price on life. Without money, one is bound from visiting a distant family member, taking piano lessons, eating healthy foods, or enjoying air conditioning. It's funny how these things are all governed by the possession of a certain quantity of a certain currency. The one most baffling to me is the concept of money being in the way of seeing my family. 
As most of you know, I'm from a little town in PA just outside of NYC (imagine that). I haven't seen my family since last August, and if a miracle of $600 doesn't present itself anytime soon, I will have to wait until this Christmas before I can see them again. This is a major burden for me. 
But ask me this question? Where was the money when I went to Ikea last month to get a $50 area rug for our carpet that is perpetually becoming darker? Where was the money when I had such a rough week, no energy to cook a weekend dinner, and went out with my sweetheart for some pricey grub? And also, where was the money when I decided that instead of saving the $60 I received from selling school books I would buy my husband a new pair of jeans and Spring jacket?
Where is the line between total frugality and absolute irresponsibility?
I'll tell you what I've decided: When money poses a threat to separate you from something you care about, such as family, the prospect of a baby (when you're married), or putting yourself in a position to serve others, that's when you don't have money to spend and that's when one is irresponsible with the money they've earned. 
I have learned a valuable lesson: I am NOT an irresponsible person. But, along the road, when I see things that would be nice, things that bring temporary pleasure, or would make life a little more enjoyable, which are sometimes necessary to have at times, I stop and think: If I spend the money on this, I am consequently not spending it on something I care more about.
I understand that for most of you who are college students that a depravity of money and a plethora of debt is something you will live with for a least a couple more years, but I know we have more money than we think. 
I would rather give up a new pair of jeans+shoes+new wall decor+eating out a couple times a month than to sacrifice not seeing the people I love, not putting a savings away for little ones, and not being able to help my neighbor when they're in need.
We put too little value on the dollar, when in reality, the dollar is what buys us freedom, in many instances, to pursue happiness.
If we're all in need, who will help us? 
We can't all be beggars. 


alyssa said...

i absolutely love this post. i feel so guilty when i buy something that could've gone to something even better. i would also give anything to see my family out east too.

Mrs. Dontje said...

i hear ya! sometimes i think about how virtual money is. i have direct deposit and a "number" goes into my bank account and that "number" pays my bills. i never see m-o-n-e-y. thats what makes it hard to remember how real money is and how much it can do for you (trip to see family, etc) if you think about how you earned it. thanks for the post!

Morgan Gunter said...

Sometimes you need to buy yourself a little something to keep you sane!! But I totaly agree. money stinks.

Dustin and Erika said...

Dustin and I are "rich"for half of the year, then "poor" for the other half when he gets laid-off. However, we've found that if you really need or want something, the money is always there. Even though we're totally broke sometimes, we still find ways to get money to go on little dates, or get other things that mean a lot to us. For example, in Utah when Dustin got laid off for 4 months, we ended up having more spending money than when Dustin was imployed making a decent salary with benefits. The reason was because we paid our tithing, I picked up more hours, we both started selling plasma, Dustin found some work that he got paid for "under the table" plus we had unemployment coming in. I'm sure people thought we were crazy that we still went out on dates and still bought clothes and shoes here and there, but that's what was important to us at the time. Dates don't seem like a waste of money when you value that time away from kids to be with eachother.
Great post, it really made me think.
And no, I don't think you're irresponsible.

Dustin and Erika said...

I meant, employed, not imployed.

amber lee said...

I love you, Britney. And I love this post. I totally know what you mean. We also, being the poor college students, find the money to spend on the things that we want. I think it's important to do those little things, otherwise it gets too depressing. But it is hard to know that maybe if I saved every penny I could go out to IL and see my family more often, but it would take a lot of pennies. :)

Ailinh Harris said...

Amen and ditto to many parts of this post. Nothing wrong with spending a little money here and there to feel and look good. It's a tough subject this thing called money.