How I Realized That Just Because I’m Making More Money, Doesn’t Mean I Have To Spend More Money

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Growing up, I never thought much about how much money people made. I never thought about my parent’s jobs, or what my friend’s parents did for work, or how they made ends meet. As an adult, I realize how naïve that sounds, but it just wasn’t on my radar.

I always knew I wanted to be a writer, and I never expected to earn much in that profession. In fact, in my first ‘Intro to Journalism’ class, I vividly remember my professor telling the class we were signing up for a ‘dying profession.’ Welcome to college, kids!

After I graduated school I moved to Boston, one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. – and I was jobless. I worked three jobs the summer before so I’d have enough saved for my big move, but it was still a risky leap into the unknown.

A couple of months in, I secured a job at a content marketing company which paid pennies, and pennies is putting it generously. But I couldn’t have been happier! I had my very own email signature and worked in a cool corporate building in Downtown Boston. I supplemented this job with a part-time gig in retail. And somehow I made ends meet while still having a social life. I look back now, and I wonder how that was even possible.

A few companies, and climbs up the rungs of the corporate ladder later, I am making more money and living in a much cheaper city and at times I STILL feel broke. What am I doing wrong?

I always thought once I reached a specific salary, I’d be set. Once this number was direct deposited into my account, all of my financial fears would disappear.

The unfortunate thing about money, a thing my Dad has been tirelessly trying to instill in me since I first started receiving birthday checks, is that you have to know how to manage it. No matter if you’re making 30,000 a year or 100,000 if you’re spending outside your means, you’re going to be stressed.

Where I first started to go wrong was when I began thinking, well I have this money now, so clearly I need this new book, or I obviously have to sign up for a StitchFix subscription. Suddenly I was swiping for everything from yet another $20 scented candle to a useless decoration from Target. Sidenote: Why the eff are throw pillows so damn expensive?

Somewhere along the way my outlook shifted from never thinking of making mindless purchases – I didn’t shop for clothes for my first two years in Boston – to thinking my life would be incomplete without this new pair of pants.

And here I am another month in with a high credit card bill. It’s time for me to get my sh!t together.

I started by unsubscribing to all the store emails that clutter my inbox day after day. Loft, I love you and your ads, but we need to go our separate ways. Wayfair, I know you think I need a rug, but if I don’t unsubscribe, my floors with be full of fabric and my wallet will be oh-so-empty.

Like I said, I’m a writer, so I’m pretty averse to all things Excel, but it’s time to take action and that means more than overanalyzing my bank statement when it’s too late. I decided to create a strict budget plan and track my spending. I input each number, no matter how small. I hate to admit it, but those iced teas add up!

Now, I’m writing this article because I want people to know that while it’s really important to work toward a career and financial goal, just because you’re getting closer to that point doesn’t mean you should start throwing that hard earned cash out the window.

Money management takes effort and knowledge, two things I definitely need to work on. This article will hopefully help me stick to my plan, since I’ve now told you all how good at budgeting I am now.

I’ve been saying for months I need to relax with my purchases, and I’m finally taking action. I have no doubt that I will feel much better when I put thought into each purchase I make, and save for the big-ticket items. And I have no doubt you can start budgeting and saving too. After all, just because you’re making more, doesn’t mean you have to spend more!

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