I’ve come to hate spending money.
I’ve never been a cheapskate, but between the student loan industry becoming my personal pimp and working in an industry that seems hell bent on encouraging would be writers to step up their math skills I’ve had to learn some stern financial discipline.
Meaning I have had to break down what exactly is a need and what’s an unnecessary want.
Fortunately, this has all taught me some valuable lessons in prioritizing, budgeting, and the evils of frivolous spending (that is, unless you got it like that or have someone who does sponsoring you).
While I budget just enough to still have a life, I don’t go out of my way to drop hundreds of dollars on anything but a bill. This has led to some friends with fewer responsibilities to question some of my choices – namely taking forever to buy a new phone.
Let me explain my last phone to you. It’s small, it’s Black, and looks like it got into a fight with cement.
I’ve long wanted to buy a new one, but I wanted to stanky legg over my debt more so my focus went to that goal.
When I finally did have the money to buy the phone I wanted – the Blackberry Bold – I had this little problem: A $750 student loan bill.
I had a choice: Do I get the spiffy new phone or do I sit my happy self down at the computer and pay this bill? I went with the latter.
A few weeks later, the middle button on my phone ran away from home. I don’t know where it went, but it left me without a proper goodbye. I needed that button to hit select so I could send messages. Without it, I was forced to shove my left pinky finger inside of that small hole to get it to work. I say left pinky because the other one wouldn’t fit.
What a fun fact to learn: My right pinky finger is bigger than the other.
Oh and did I mention that if you even slightly tapped the phone in the front of it would shut off? Or that I had to wrestle with the charger whenever I wanted to reenergize the battery?
Yes, it was pretty bad.
I was never particularly embarrassed about the phone. I mean the phone was the raggedy one, not me.
Even after I started to bring in more income and get things in order, I still twiddled my thumbs about replacing it. That’s because like many of you I’m worried about what may happen if my steady flow of income suddenly evaporates.
What happens if one of the outlets I write for suddenly decides to slash their budget and release me from my contract? What if another outlet goes under completely?
I’m not surprised that April’s retail sales plunged. People are afraid…for good reason. I see deals and I want to spend, but in the back of my mind I wonder “what if…”
Exactly one week ago, my new phone arrived. While out at an event trying to network, I realized everyone around me had a Blackberry and naturally assumed I had one, too. When someone asked me to pull out of my phone and store their information, for the first time I flinched.
No way in the world was I going to pull that thing out. I lied and said I lost my phone and on the following Tuesday I finally ordered myself the Bold.
I’ve since determined that I can write-off the expense, but while I may love the new phone and all its features (including working buttons), in the back of my mind I keep thinking, “Oooh, please don’t let me end with a new phone and no job to pay the bill.”
I’ve been feeling fortunate lately, but these days one can never be too sure.
Alright now, I know I’m not the only one who’s been out here embracing their inner spend thrift lately.
Got a story to tell about how you’ve cut back on your shopping habits?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.