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#60128 - 03/01/07 11:31 PM The Price of Fun
Erin W
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/02/06
Posts: 362
Loc: Ohio

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So, I just passed an evening going over last year's credit card bills to try and figure out where all my money is going.

It turns out I hardly spent anything last winter. But looking over those small-balance bills, I feel strangely unfulfilled. One month in particular, in which I spent very little, I've got groceries, gasoline, cleaning supplies, nothing else. Isn't that kind of a sad, utilitarian life? What did I do that month? What did I think?

Meanwhile, the bills which are outrageously high are full of great stuff: restaurants, movies, bookstores, Target. They bring to mind great dates, new outfits, road trips.

Does anyone else feel sometimes like they're buying happiness?

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#60129 - 03/02/07 05:44 AM Re: The Price of Fun
polly#2
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Registered: 06/21/04
Posts: 135
Loc: Ireland

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I look at the bills and think ‘Look, I turned x hours of work into a case of fantastic wine. Good swop’. But also, for me anyway, it’s worth reconsidering the amount spent on restaurants and movies because they are a quick, lazy, fix. Could I have more, better fun if I took the amount I spend on restaurants and movies and expensive travel and instead bought a canoe and spent a year getting around Dublin using the canals and the Liffey?

ETA Signed up for a canoe refresher course. That's that sorted.

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#60130 - 03/02/07 10:01 AM Re: The Price of Fun
vanillabean
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Registered: 04/12/06
Posts: 123

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I sometimes do. So much of my money goes towards things that I need, like food. Then, when I do go out, I always spend money mostly on food again! Like last night, $5 for ice cream at Coldstone (though it was for a fundraiser). I don't have a lot of money to spend on things I don't need, though I really have to buy some new clothes soon and a new winter coat. For me, this is my "fun" stuff!

I have my spring break this coming week, and I plan on plopping down on the couch and reading (I have actually been looking forward to this for awhile!). Though I am envious a bit for the people that will be going to Cancun or Puerto Rico...

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#60131 - 03/02/07 11:40 AM Re: The Price of Fun
naomism
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Registered: 11/18/02
Posts: 757
Loc: Iraq

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Money doesn't buy happiness...but it can sure rent it.

I have a fairly large disposable income but my spending habits have remained largely the same: I buy lots of books and watch movies (mostly on DVD); I eat out on average about once every two weeks (not counting the occasional lunch I buy during the work week which I see as more of a necessity than something I'm doing with friends or for pleasure); I travel, though because of said income, I am more likely to not travel as cheaply and this is probably the biggest change since my days of genteel poverty.

That being said, some of the best things to do (museums, amateur theatre, just hanging out with friends, reading) can be fairly inexpensive or even free. I actually find myself more satisfied with my credit card bill when I've spent less and know that I had a good time anyway than when I've spent more but didn't feel as though I gained anything from my purchases (as Suze says, when I feel less, I spend more--especially on clothes I don't need).

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#60132 - 03/09/07 11:14 AM Re: The Price of Fun
LibraryGoddess
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Registered: 12/31/04
Posts: 146

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It's an interesting question. For the last 9 years I was quite flush with money. Not rich by any means, but comfortable and if I needed something, I could get it. I never have any debt.

Enter this year. I left my job due to a problem there and am making far less money, probably 1/6 of what I was making last year. My husband's income has remained the same. Yet, my checking account is doing better than it ever has! I was so afraid of overspending that I have economized so much. Now that I see that I have more money than I did before, it makes me wonder what in the hell I spent all that money ON anyway. I guess I can see it around the house in nice furnishings and accessories, and fabulous shoes, but I didn't realize how much money I was spending! Now I do and it was quite an eye opener, I have to say.

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#82633 - 04/16/07 03:01 AM Re: The Price of Fun [Re: LibraryGoddess]
Lady Agnew
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Registered: 10/07/00
Posts: 528
Loc: San Francisco, CA USA

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I find this topic fascinating because I am currently living in genteel poverty, and yes: sometimes it bites to have no money and therefore have no fun, but generally, I like being a student over working full-time at something I have no passion for, and I prefer to have time over money (which is probably quite un-American thing about me!) so you learn to make do.

I check out books and DVDs from the library, and I love it. I buy books only when they're on sale or for cheap. Actually I've been trying to not buy as many books as I want, because space is an issue, and moving is hell with books, but I still find myself buying $1 books all the time.

I love movies and I love going to the theater to watch them. This is where I decided to splurge: a couple of years ago, I bought about 100 movie passes for AMC theaters, for about $500. I've gotten through about half of them, but they're awesome. I never feel guilty or out-of-cash when I want to see a movie.

Clothes: this is where it helps, a lot, to live in a major metropolitan center. In San Francisco, there are lots of used and secondhand clothing shops that rock. Crossroads, with 4 branches in the city, is awesome. I've bought pants there for $5 and lately a cute white summer dress for $11. I love clothes, but I also never buy retail except during the holiday season, when the sales are realy good. I shop Goodwill, eBay (less so now, because eBay is increasingly commercial) and actually, shopping secondhand is a lot more fun than retail. For one thing: there is a greater variety of things on sale: vintage, weird, kooky, of all sizes. Findng a great deal-- like the time I found a silk green poufy dress that looked like June Cleaver would have worn it in the '50s for about $4 -- make you wanna yell "Eureka!" Malls are also physically unpleasant for me, so warm and noisy, with all those perfume-y smells. I don't really like malls much, anymore.

Cultural things like the opera and ballet have student discounts (I saw a three operas in 2005 for $15 each and what I learned is that I don't like opera.) Every museum in the city has a free day--usually the first Tuesday or Wednesday of the month. There are also lots of free events in the city every weekend: author readings, fairs, weird events. Last weekend, there was a very silly event wherein a bunch of grown people rode Big Wheel bikes down Lombard Street (the crooked-est street in the world). Free, and I totally didn't go. I actually find that what keeps me home isn't money but laziness.

The three things I find hardest without money is: eating out, hanging out with friends and travelling. I don't like cooking, love eating out and S.F. is a good city for cheap take-out and a great city for moderately-priced eating out. Would love to travel, but that would take some more money than I can command right now. But the hardest thing is that I have friends who do have full-time "real" jobs, and hanging out with them is sometimes hard. They have the money to spend freely, and I don't, and I don't want to drag them down so I tell 'em to go without me. But they sometimes insist, and I feel bad for turning them down, even though I don't particularly have the money for $40 concert tickets, etc. The strange thing is that I never really regret not going to the concert or eating at the fancy restaurant, it just sucks that some people really don't understand how serious I am about living within my means as well as how... not fun it is to constantly refuse someone.

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#82643 - 04/16/07 09:41 AM Re: The Price of Fun [Re: Lady Agnew]
miercoles
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/29/00
Posts: 877
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI

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 Quote:
But the hardest thing is that I have friends who do have full-time "real" jobs, and hanging out with them is sometimes hard. They have the money to spend freely, and I don't, and I don't want to drag them down so I tell 'em to go without me. But they sometimes insist, and I feel bad for turning them down, even though I don't particularly have the money for $40 concert tickets, etc. The strange thing is that I never really regret not going to the concert or eating at the fancy restaurant, it just sucks that some people really don't understand how serious I am about living within my means as well as how... not fun it is to constantly refuse someone.


That's one of the advantages of being in grad school -- most of my friends are also grad students, so we're all in the same financial boat. It's rare that someone suggests dinner at a fancy restaurant; we usually just go out for drinks. And so on. But having that sort of unspoken agreement among my friends really helps to decrease my financial stress.

I second all of Lady Agnew's points about the student discounts, and I don't know what I would do on a grad-student-like salary without all the discounts and bus passes and the like.

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#82673 - 04/16/07 08:15 PM Re: The Price of Fun [Re: miercoles]
AlchemyGirl
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Registered: 04/10/05
Posts: 175

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I like that about grad school too, miercoles -- everyone pretty much has identical paychecks so there's never an awkward moment when someone has to say they can't afford Chez Overpriced.

I have to say though, living in genteel grad student poverty can be frustrating at times. I'm going to be a bridesmaid in my friend's wedding this fall, and while I'm thrilled to be asked I know the shoes, dress, airfare, etc. will wipe me out for that month. My college friends almost all have real jobs and can go to Vegas, the beach, college homecoming, etc. without a lot of stressing about the airfare. I'm good about saying no when I can't afford to join them, but sometimes I feel so left out! It hurts a bit when everyone starts sending out photos of Vegas Weekend 2007 and all I can say for my own weekend is that I read another boring 900-page book. Whoopee.

It doesn't help that my university is smack in the middle of a super-expensive small town that caters more towards wealthy businesspeople than college students or twenty-somethings. A town spokesman was quoted in the student paper last week saying that students aren't engaged enough with the town because they don't spend enough money there -- but how many students, undergrad or graduate, can shop at Kate Spade, Coach, and Ralph Lauren? I hate not being considered a valuable member of society because I can't afford a $1000 purse.

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