On Monkeys, Money and Bacon

Today, I feel like bacon. That is to say, I spent my weekend out in the sun and turned a few shades darker, like properly done bacon. My friends probably also feel like bacon, but unfortunately more like the type that I have been known to make—burnt to a crisp. Hopefully, if you’ve been enjoying the sunny weather recently, like I did at the cottage this past weekend, you haven’t been overcooked. Otherwise you might be uncomfortable doing just about anything, including reading the blog that is to follow after this paragraph. Lesson one of the week: base tan.

Anyway, we’re going to spend today discussing something that I haven’t written about for quite some time—and that’s because, frankly, I’m a little ashamed at my poor grasp of the topic. Money is the ever-present monkey on the back of many a student, and no matter how good or bad you are with it, it’s never very much fun to talk about. Students’ discussions of money usually cover bank accounts, credit cards, buying groceries, paying rent, paying bills or making other small purchases. It’s not often that you’ll find students bragging about dropping $1,200 in less than a week (guilty). Instead, you’ll more likely find them moaning about the emptiness of their bank account (guilty) and regretting at least a few of the purchases (luckily, not guilty. Yet.).

This is the first summer where I actually have a steady job where all of my earnings are under my control, and it’s been an extreme test of my willpower. If I’m not at work (or sleeping) I find myself hanging out with my friends, which generally requires spending at least $20 each time. Add this up over 3 or 4 times a week, and suddenly my pay cheque seems to have shrunk down to nothing. My dad is constantly reminding me to consider my spending in terms of how many hours I have to work to earn the money. A half-hour dinner can sometimes cost two hours’ worth of pay. Thinking of money from a different perspective may help if you find your spending habits are similar to mine.

I am extremely fortunate in that my parents are helping me pay for school. And by “helping,” I mean they are paying for it and only expect me to pay for my books (at least). I’m proud to say that even with my little shopping spree, I have been able to maintain—even surpass—the financial goals I set for myself this summer. These goals usually involve maintaining a certain amount in my bank account. If I find that I have met my goal and there’s a little extra money, I adjust the goal for the next week. Slowly but surely the number on the ATM screen keeps getting bigger.

At the same time that money is a bit of a burden, it also offers freedom. While we all want to ride the apron strings for as long as possible, it’s nice to say you paid for a fairly large purchase or monthly bill (e.g., your smart phone, rent, etc.). If only for lack of a better term, I return to the word “balance.” (Don’t I always?) Balance should be present not only in your social/work/school life, but also in how you spend your money. Makes sense, seeing as how money makes its way into nearly every aspect of life, no?

OK, enough writing. The sun has more or less drained me of any energy, but I am apparently on dog-walking duty (I heard “blog walking,” so I thought I would write this first). Hopefully I won’t end up passing out from heat exhaustion before my dog (a breed that loses half its weight when you give it a haircut). If I survive, you’ll hear from me next week!

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