Welcome back to Two Cents, a Q&A series that reveals how individuals of different ages, cities, and professions feel about their current financial situation.
Meet Angie! She’s super upbeat, an extremely talented dancer (although she doesn’t give herself enough credit for it), and always the life of the party. This is the kind of girl who can drink you under the table and still be ready for a 9 am presentation the next morning. She’s the extrovert to my introvert, which will quickly become apparent.
Hi, my name is Angie and I’m a shopaholic hip hop dancer. Okay, not exactly a “shopaholic” shopaholic (although my friends would disagree…actually I can see them rolling their eyes if they ever read this), but I love shopping. I don’t get too carried away, but I know how and when to treat myself. Also, I’ll have you all know that I get some pretty awesome deals, which is probably the main reason I’m not completely broke.
How would you describe your current financial situation?
I know what you all are thinking…you’re probably thinking, “this girl is like the real life version of Isla Fisher’s character from ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’”. While it is one of my favorite movies to watch on occasion, I’m not THAT bad. I do have to admit, though, if I saw a nice store or a hot man…I’d probably be staring at the nice store. (Those of you who have seen that movie will get the reference.) Anyway, back on topic. I have a monthly budget for rent, gas, electricity, restaurants, groceries, and total food (including coffee shops and the occasional night out). Based on that budget, I make a projected estimate for savings and miscellaneous expenses, such as travel, other maintenance fees, and you guessed it, SHOPPING. I typically earn more than I spend per month, but on months where I travel and during the winter holidays where I want to splurge on gifts for my friends or myself because of all the great deals, I tend to be more on the negative side in regards to my monthly cash flow delta.
Do you consider yourself to be money-savvy?
Depends on what you mean by “money-savvy”. No joke, I had to Google it. According to Google, it’s either being ‘smart with money’ or ‘being knowledgeable about money’. When I think of being ‘money-savvy’, I think of a solid combination of both. I think of people who create money out of thin air leveraging the massive amounts of money they already have- I imagine investment gurus. I majored in financial mathematics, so I’d say from a pure math standpoint, I’m somewhat knowledgeable about investments, interests, etc. In real life practice, it’s a totally different story. I don’t participate in any type of day trading nor do I find interest in anything investment related. So from a “smart-money-real-life-practice” (I know that’s not a word but let’s just go with it) standpoint, I’m probably not money-savvy. However, I would like to mention that I’m very quick at calculating discounts and tips – it comes in handy at the mall and in restaurants.
What financial advice would you have wished to hear when you started working?
I don’t know if this counts as advice, but I think I would have appreciated it if someone taught me more about investments. Not just for my 401K, but also for non-retirement investment accounts. My financial mathematics classes only taught me about the logistics behind investments (Black-Scholes model proofs, option pricing with fixed volatility, etc.), but I was always too scared to apply this knowledge a real-life scenario. I’m way too risk-adverse, and no one around me was ‘money-savvy’ enough about investments to teach me.
What financial achievement are you most proud of?
Does having a solid full-time job count? That, and probably my credit score. I’ve never been in debt and pay off my bills in full every month.
What expense can you not live without?
For me, my friends would probably say shopping in general. Although they are probably correct to a certain degree, they also know I love food as much, if not more, as clothes. So, I would actually have to say groceries. Skincare would probably be the closest second. My greatest fear in life is running out of food to eat, especially in the house. I ensure that I always have something I can whip up in the house in case of emergencies or on weekends where I don’t want to leave the comfort of my apartment. I prefer to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, so I make sure I’m stocked up on those items at all times. Also, you never know when a zombie apocalypse might hit.
What expense could you potentially cut down on?
Clothes, eating out, and wasted groceries. My shopping habit refers to mainly clothes, shoes, and the occasional handbag. I don’t typically buy these things online, which helps cut down expenses. I’m also not an impulse shopper – I tend to mull over more expensive items before I commit to purchasing it. But when I find great deals, I tend to end up buying items that I ‘like’, but not love. And those small purchases add up in the long run. I’m currently making a conscious effort to only buy the items I love, that fit perfectly, is good quality, and I can see myself wearing often.
In regards to groceries, my heart breaks whenever food goes to waste. I have a mini-funeral for each fruit and veggie that I have to dispose of on weeks where I find myself dining out more often. Although I could never give up eating out in general (there are just too many good restaurants that are waiting to be discovered and favorites that satisfy my cravings oh too well), I need to be more mindful and plan accordingly, when I should purchase more or less groceries, how often I dine out and if I should dine out at all.
What are your long-term financial goals?
Good question. I’m going to be honest- I hadn’t really thought about this. I don’t plan on retiring early, as my long-term career goal is to one day become a professor at a small liberal arts college like my parents. With that kind of career, I can probably work until I die (which is what my dad is currently doing). The job isn’t as demanding as my current career path, has decent pay, includes great benefits such as summer & winter vacations and sabbaticals, and is pretty rewarding as I’ll be able to (hopefully) inspire and guide my students towards their bright futures. With that being said, I think I’ll enjoy being a nice old lady professor while still being able to go on a good amount of vacations. (I know because my dad is literally living this life right now.) I guess, in a way, my long-term financial goal is to reach a point where my dad is currently. He’s making more than he’s spending, and he’s not bending over backwards to do it. He’s able to travel and enjoy life, while at the same time, not worry about having sufficient funds or retirement.
What are your short-term financial goals?
I want to make enough to afford a studio or a one-bedroom luxury apartment. By “afford”, I mean that my monthly rent will not exceed more than 1/3 of my monthly earnings. By “luxury apartment”, I mean a seriously nice high-rise in a good area – think super sleek and modern. I have one in mind right now and am currently waiting for a (very soon) promotion and raise before I take my next real steps into my dream bachelorette pad.
Although I think it’s definitely important to save for many reasons, I also know how important it is to enjoy the present from personal experience. My mom passed away from lung cancer 6 years ago, and it left a huge impact on my personal relationship with money. My family used to only save save save, never spend, but during the years of her diagnosis, my parents all of a sudden started spending money on experiences. They were able to derive the worth of what they were buying as opposed to the cost. The sad part is – I wish we weren’t making those memories because we knew there was only a short amount of time we had together. I wish we made those memories on a happier note – because we wanted to…not because we HAD to. My mom was able to use her savings on the trips she made when she was sick, but that’s just it. She was sick on those trips. I think it would have been much more worthwhile if she was able to travel healthier and with a calm mind.
Life is truly short. You never know what may happen. Save and prepare for the future, but don’t forget to live in the present too. Having that perfect balance of the two is key.
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