For the last several weeks my mind has been dominated by one word: savings.
And the fact that I don't have nearly enough of it.
This fact in and of itself isn't special. Lots of people wish they had more savings. I am certainly not unique in that sense.
However, what is perhaps more unique is the fact that I've had more opportunities than most to save a lot more than I actually have saved -- and at the tender age of 29 I am finally realizing how many opportunities I've squandered.
Take this example. My dad retired when he was (and I was) pretty young, compared to most retirees. His heart condition qualified as a disability that gave he and I additional benefits. One of those benefits was a payment of $500 a month to me. When I was in grade school this went to my mom who used it to pay for all the things that parents have to pay for when your child plays three sports and is in 657 other extracurricular activities. But when I went to college, which happened at age 17, my parents decided it would be a good idea for me to open a bank account and have that money to manage on my own. At the same time, I also had a full scholarship to Georgia State University which included housing and PantherCash (which could be used for food), as well as a job on campus because why not. So, I say all that to say, I was not hurting for funds, and the $500 a month was certainly not a make-or-break in terms of my budget.
Twenty-nine-year-old Brittany would have set up a savings account and had the money directly deposited into it, before it could even come to my checking and distract me into thinking I have it to spend. Seventeen-year-old-Brittany, not surprisingly, was not that smart. She used the money to buy all kinds of clothes and shoes and God knows what else that I no longer have and probably threw away years ago.
I received that income for a year (until I turned 18). That was an easy $6,000.
Fast forward ten years later to twenty-seven-year-old-Brittany. One of the reasons I moved to D.C. from New York is because in New York, I made enough money to live, but that was it. I wasn't saving anything because it was just so expensive to live there. D.C. isn't as cheap as Atlanta for sure, but it is a little better than NYC, and your money does go further. When I came here, I immediately had a bit of a windfall because I made the same salary but paid hundreds less for my apartment. By year two (28-year-old-Brittany if you're counting), I made even more, and paid even less for my next apartment (the one I am currently in). But while that extra cushion every month did add a few dollars to the savings account, I am ashamed to admit I mostly used it to do all the stuff I wished I could have done more when I lived in New York. I've traveled quite a bit in the last couple of years, did my fair share of drinks and dinners and brunches, and I now have a bathroom and bedroom full of wigs and new makeup.
I wouldn't trade the hair and makeup though, sorry not sorry.
So now, on the two-month anniversary of my leaving my last job, I find myself angrily wishing I had been smarter about saving.
Among the many reasons why I've finally had this epiphany is the recent interest I've take in homebuying. More on that in a later post/podcast. Short version: when it comes to buying a house, even with a decent income, broke bitches need not apply.
In my Decision, Decisions post, I went back and forth about whether or not I should go back to work so I can save more money, or struggle my way through trying to make this freelance thing pop off. I decided to do the former, and have been interviewing.
It was a hard decision, but ultimately the right one. God has blessed me to have skills that are extremely marketable and desired by all kinds of companies. And the job market in D.C. is very strong. I want to take advantage of this opportunity to save as much as I can, and I really mean that. In fact, this funemployment experience has really given me the kick in the butt I needed to realize just how important it is that I save as much as I can while I can.
Unfortunately sometimes the theoretical understanding of the need to save money isn't quite as impactful as the real world understanding of brokeness.
So, I'm going back to work, with the primary goal of saving money. That means the travel, the brunches, the dinners, etc. will probably be on hold at least in the short term.
But not the hair and makeup. Never the hair and makeup.