One of the first blogs I ever discovered was An English Major’s Money. Sadly, she gave up blogging there not long after I stumbled across it – but this week (I really don’t know why) I returned to the site and literally read almost every post in her archive. On the surface, we have a lot in common. We both left uni with a coupla grand in the bank, but without student loans. We both got given $2000 upon graduation from family, and live in very expensive cities. I guess you could almost say we even both work in publishing, although very different facets. And we both lost significant amounts of money thanks to old housing situations
On the other hand, EM came from a well-off family and was, for lack of better description, a very intellectual person. Check out her fabulous posts on grammar; unlike me, she can actually articulate just WHY a sentence is wrong, and that is why a) I majored in communications, not English and b) I no longer tutor English. Ultimately, she made the decision to go to grad school, because like a true arts major, she had a love of learning. Here, she defends English and other humanities majors, and while I don’t roll in circles where dinner parties are held and conversations on academics and literature are the norm (nor would I really want to, by and large), I can appreciate many of her points. Personally, I know grad school is not for me. I did enjoy many of my papers – theory on what shapes the news, for example, and most of all, political science – but original thinking was not my strength. I don’t feel I could add to the landscape of research out there. And BTW, when I talk polsci, I mean things like how political theories and how politics affects us on society. “In how class and money and economic history have shaped the more ethereal realms of our lives. Including how we relate to our families; including who our friends are,” as EM writes.
But the post that electrified me was this one.
Am I supposed to sit in my office and wait to get married and have kids and send them to college and retire, go home worrying about the balances of my accounts, watch a movie, fill in the day’s expenses into my budgeting software, go to sleep? For years?
(Okay, so I’m not guilty of doing that. I categorise my expenses throughout the month, but I will never be the kind of person who tracks expenses daily. I struggle with balance – I have an addictive personality – and that just isn’t healthy for me. T sees me a total money geek already, just because I like to know where our money is going, and actually use the tools my bank provides – if only he knew!)
That post spoke to me. I stayed up past midnight reading it and pondering how it related to me. Are my priorities messed up? Should I be focusing more on living my life while I’m young, and enjoying it?
Personal finance bloggers often scoff at needing to find one’s purpose. They advise, instead, settling down at a well-paying job and keeping financial goals in mind. My priorities are different. I will make the money work, honestly I will, just as long as I can figure out what I should be doing and find a way to be doing it. This doesn’t mean that I should be reckless, and it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t educate myself on how to deal with money, but money is not the point. It is not enough to sustain me. I need to pursue a life driven by a sense of purpose.
I don’t honestly feel I’m living a life of intention. For me, I feel the key lies in finding a happy medium – that of a point somewhere in between an all-consuming purpose (for some, that might be quitting the 9-5 to live on a boat, or retiring by 40), and that of financial stability. I don’t want to struggle – I’ve had enough of that already, thanks – but I do want to expand my horizons, too. An ex-coworker had no desire to leave the country; all she wanted was to be able to buy a house, and have a family. I want those things too, but I need more from life. And I’m not sure how to work toward achieving this. Perhaps something like the 100 in 1001 days that so many bloggers are doing?
Which begs the question: am I focusing too much on money, or the lack of it? What’s really more important to me in life? At some point, I need to stop dreaming of seeing other countries firsthand, and start planning. I have no concrete goals. Maybe I want to leave NZ before I’m 26 (if for no reason other than that STA Travel has special deals for students and those under 26). I definitely want to travel with T beside me, although we have no idea, financially, how that might be achieved at this rate. Right now, I suppose I’m just trying to save as much as I can, although I have since set a number for this year – $10k). I have a feeling though, that it’s never going to be enough, especially as I have a problem with spending large amounts of money, even if they were intended for that purpose.
So yes, this concludes a very creepy, fannish post in which I have linked to a single blog more times than can possibly be healthy. If she ever stumbles across this, I hope she’ll take it as a compliment.