Inspired: Food for thought from an English major

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.

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11 thoughts on “Inspired: Food for thought from an English major

  • Reply Amber from Girl with the Red Hair June 9, 2010 at 15:48

    It’s so hard to find a good balance isn’t it? I’ve become kind of obsessive about money lately – now that I’m on salary I know exactly how much I make each month and I have it budgeted down to the penny. I need to be more easygoing and not FREAK if something comes up that’s not in the budget. I have lots of money in savings and I’ll be fine!

    Also, key to saving for a trip? Save up at least half the money you need and then BOOK THE TRIP. Seriously, we saved over half of the money that we spent in Europe in the six months after we booked the trip. We KNEW it was FOR SURE happening then so we were putting every extra penny towards it!

  • Reply Rainy-Day Saver June 9, 2010 at 15:57

    I also came across An English Major’s Money not long before she stopped blogging (sad). Everyone finds their fulfillment in different ways. For you, it will be traveling. For me, it’s nesting, having a home and a family. Who’s to say that one is better than the other? It’s all about what makes each one of us happiest.

  • Reply Aspiring Minimalist June 9, 2010 at 16:57

    I’m like you, looking for a balance.

    I haven’t been keeping up with budgeting in the last few months and need to get back on the band wagon. I know I have been avoiding malls and buying things in general, but I’d like to find out how I am doing.

    I’m thinking about how I feel at my job. Thinking and planning.

  • Reply laura June 9, 2010 at 20:31

    I think that you have the perfect opportunity to live a life of intention; being part of the pf blogosphere at such a young age is a benefit, there is so much inspiration to be found; managing your money in the right way can bring freedom. freedom to do what you wish.

    Gosh I sound like a parent! lol 🙂

  • Reply Amanda June 10, 2010 at 02:08

    I’ve started the 101 in 1001 challenge. It took me two weeks to figure out 101 goals that I wanted or could accomplish in just under three years (that actually meant something). I don’t plan on actually doing the 1001 part, but it was interesting to me to see where my priorites actually fit. Travel was important, but so was financial security, health, and learning. Whenever I want something now I sit down and think about how that would work with all of the goals that I want to achieve. I would suggest to anyone to create the 101 list.

  • Reply Jane June 10, 2010 at 06:31

    I have really been struggling with this lately. I’m at a point in my life where I really feel like I should be settling down. But I am beginning to think I want to achieve financial stability so that I can wander. I just don’t know.

  • Reply Stephany June 10, 2010 at 14:17

    I feel like I could have written this post because I have felt the same way lately. Last week, I just sat down and wrote down a Five-Year Plan. I made 5 categories (ex.: health, finances, career, etc.) and then just wrote where I wanted to see myself in 5 years, kind of like a stream of consciousness. It’s really helped me focus on what I want. (I then went and made a list of how to get there making smaller goals.)

    Also, I totally think making a 101 list would be a great help. I know it’s helped me set more smaller goals and achieve them and it feels great when that happens.

  • Reply Rachel June 12, 2010 at 14:48

    Wow. This post totally blew me away. I am going to have to re-read (and process. and maybe visit some of your links). But I am struggling so much with some of the same issues. My finances are in order, and I am very responsibly not quitting a going nowhere job while I search for a new one, but I have been wondering lately, if I should just take my financial stability and use it to just LIVE and not be so cautious and expand my horizons because I’m not getting any younger.

    This post also makes me think that I should try to put together another 101 in 1001 list.

  • Reply Fig June 14, 2010 at 10:25

    I actually really like that blog. It was one of the first I found and I just read backwards through a lot of her posts. Balance is hard to find. Somehow I think I’m on the opposite side as you though, I’ve focused a lot on traveling and doing the fun things instead of aiming for financial security. I’m trying to change that a bit now but I don’t totally want to go 100% the opposite direction. Balance is always the goal, but it seems so hard to find.

    The 101 in 1001 list sounds cool. I think that would be really fun to do.

  • Reply Finding Fulfillment in Life • Rainy-Day Saver July 22, 2010 at 02:15

    […] WP Greet Box WordPress PluginEveryone finds their fulfillment in different ways. For ee musings at Musings of an Abstract Aucklander, it will be traveling. For me, it’s nesting, having a home and a family. Who’s to say […]

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