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Not spending doesn’t help, it just makes me miserable

Submitted by Amber Lee on August 10, 2009 – 4:35 pmComments

Yesterday, I was in a public restroom when two women started talking about their biggest fears: the economy. They both work for public education in California and are now facing 15 percent pay cuts for the following year. One of them even discussed taking a second job to help pay for costs, but just couldn’t find anything, even a job at a local fast food restaurant.

A friend of mine just graduated from UCLA with a BA in English and has applied to 40 jobs in the last 3 months. She has heard back from one – a pet grooming mobile truck. She couldn’t make the interview and now has an unpaid internship at a publishing house, who will not hire her because of the massive cuts they have had to make to their budget.

I’m extraordinarily lucky. I have another year of school left before I have to face the onslaught of student loans and a jobless economy, but I’m already starting hyperventilate. The loans I will have to take out this year are double what I have had to take out in the past, due to scholarship and grant cuts at my university. My rent has gone up 10 percent. Not to mention I will have a number of new costs (a part from the normal utilities, health, and discretionary spending) when I apply to graduate school programs, including entrance exams, application fees, travel costs, etc.

It’s only a matter of time before I have to start selling myself on the street to make ensure my future.

Adding to my disgruntled is the way that my lifestyle has changed. So I signed up for mint.com to monitor my budget, since I really have no self-control when it comes to anything in a store front. So I track how much I spend at Starbucks and on rent and my ever-increasing cell phone bill. So I am very cognizant of where my money is going. Go me.

But as my income dwindles and costs rise, I can also see how little I am spending on things that I actually enjoy. I don’t buy books anymore, I don’t get coffee, I don’t go to movies, I haven’t gotten a hair cut in so long that people are calling me Rapunzel.

I’ve turned into a cost-efficient maniac. I’ll only buy fruits that are on sale, I clip coupons. I don’t sleep because I’m nervous about money. My apartment is a sauna because I can’t rationalize using the A/C unless it’s at least 3000 degrees. It’s gotten to the point that I walk into a store and can’t justify buying anything, because “it’s just not worth it.”
This is a 180 from where I started my college career where I enjoyed shopping and spending money. Now I have a guilt complex and have started wondering when I would feel justified in buying a new shirt from Urban Outfitters. It is when I have to throw out an old shirt because it doesn’t fit? Or it has holes in it? What would justify an occasion to buy a dress, instead of just wearing an old one?

It’s not as if I was a spending freak before the economy started its dramatic downturn, but now I’m totally abstaining from a hobby that I used to enjoy and also felt like I deserved. Even worse is that even though I’m not spending any money, I haven’t even been able to save any of it. Sure, I’m not in debt.

But I’m pretty miserable.

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  • 40 jobs!!! EEEE gads....
    Hey - and it's GREAT your not in debt; remember that!
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