There is this great Cracked article that everyone has been reading called "6 Things Rich People Need to Stop Saying." #6 is "Well, $500,000 a Year Might Sound Like a Lot, but I'm Hardly Rich."
I can promise you I'm making nowhere near half a mil. My income is five digits, unless you count the cents. Or the dollar sign. But even so, I felt guilty the other day when I complained that despite having a real, adult job with a real, adult paycheck, I still feel broke.
Before I get to the guilt, the complaint. A real job in a new state means I am paying state income tax and student loans, which I didn't before. I've also been hit by, for the first time, being paid biweekly instead of on a monthly basis. I calculated my budget based on a monthly basis, although in fact I get several hundred less a month that that, except the two months in which I get three paychecks. That's messing with me. Food and yoga cost a little more, but transportation and capoeira cost less.
The biggest difference, the one that takes half my income, is rent. And, yeah, I could pay less - I could live on my own somewhere in Queens, or get a roommate situation somewhere in Manhattan. Ironically, I can't easily afford to move, not having a broker's fee or first/last. And I adore my apartment.
The overall effect is that I'm consuming about the same amount of goods and services now that I did a year ago as a student.
However, and this is where the guilt comes in, I know I could live on less. I know people in New York who do. I might find moving out of my apartment unbearable, but it is still more feasible than saving money by becoming a breatharian. I'm making what is to a lot of people good money. To them, my complaints are going to fall on deaf ears.
The easiest thing I can do for my budget is get rid of my credit card debt. (I'm not going to tell you how much it is, but it's … a lot.) If I wasn't paying that every month, I could breathe more freely. Heck, I could bathe in gold doubloons every morning. (Kidding.) I've been trying to do that since I arrived. I've made some progress, but glacial. Still, progress. Better than regress.
I just bought a plane ticket yesterday for my grandma's memorial service this summer. I don't regret buying it, but as I was doing so, I realized I do travel a lot. This year's Brazil trip is off, so I was thinking of going to Denver instead. That would be several hundred dollars, though. And from NYC, I could instead take an $8 Megabus to DC or Philly.
So, I have a new resolution: I'm not buying any plane tickets until the smaller of my two credit cards is paid off. Which, my parents fervently hope, will be before Christmas. To do this, I'll need to focus on paying it off instead of trying to save, and I'll need to cut back on a few things - goodbye handstand class. But I hope it will be the incentive I need.
Then I can stop complaining about being broke, and start complaining about the shoddy quality of modern gold doubloons.