Dolla Dolla Bill Yo

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Money

Hey guys, hi. It’s been awhile. What’s up?

Not much here, you know, just thinking about money, mostly. Money, money, money. $$$ $$$ $$$ etc, etc.

Money has been clouding my vision a lot lately. Pffffft. What am I saying “lately” for? What is that nonsense? It’s been clouding my vision since I was old enough to drop a coin into the vending machine at Pizza Hut to get a unicorn sticker. It’s a huge, hanging, ominous green cloud. I don’t think I’ve ever gone ONE DAY without thinking about it.

I took to my Facebook the other day to declare my hatred for those cotton flaps that run and ruin our lives. “Money! It’s the root of all evil!”  Lots of people agreed with me, because hey, it’s the truth: Money sucks. Thinking about it sucks. Letting it consume your moments before bed so that you’re counting dollar bills rather than sheep sucks. If you don’t have to worry about it, congratulations for being in that little gold nugget of the world. You’re lucky.

I don’t mean to sound bitter, really, it’s just hard. I don’t want to want money, but I also don’t want to be homeless. “Money doesn’t make you happy.” I get it, I really do. I’m lucky in a whole lot of ways that aren’t in any way affiliated with money. I have them written down right beside my computer so that I remember them daily. But I feel like I spend so much time thinking about my next student loan payment sometimes. It’s valuable time we’re wasting. We shouldn’t have to regret going to college, getting a higher education. I’m tired of feeling like I can’t ever start my life as an independent human because I’m always going to be making payments to the man. You know what I’m talking about, this isn’t news to you. Insurance is expensive, medical bills are expensive, food is expensive, gas is expensive. Yadda Yadda.

This past year I’ve really been trying to save what I can. I splurged on a trip to Disney World, but hey, a girl’s gotta have a little magic here and there, am I right?

So I’ve been able to save more because there’s this little thing I was introduced to called “a budget.” HUH, WHAT, GASP. I know. It’s a frightening word. It’s a boring word. For millennials like us, we don’t want to be chained down to the rows of a checkbook. We want to travel, listen to live concerts, eat fancy things, live the life we want and were destined for! The feminist in me says, a budget? What am I, a 1950s housewife? Sure, I’ll get to that budget, Jim, right after I wash those sauce-covered dishes and iron your underwear. I don’t want to budget my money! I am a free, independent woman. I’ll spend my money how I see fit.

Well, here’s the thing. And I will preface it by saying that I am no ~financier~. I don’t own stocks, I don’t have a certificate of deposit and I definitely don’t enjoy pulling up my bank account online. But I do think we all need to stop that type of thinking — that a budget is some ghastly, abhorrent word. It’s actually pretty important. No, wait, it’s like HUGELY important. It blows my mind that they don’t teach students how to budget their money somewhere within their K-12 education. What is the square root of 10,664? What is the cosine of a 30 degree angle? Oh, I have an idea. WHO THE FUCK CARES. No, really, who.cares. Teach me how to not be poor when I’m older. That’s something that’s really going to affect my life.

Anyway, enough of the venting. We’re all in this together, we’ll get through it. In the meantime, I have some tips. I wish they could be actual money tips for you, like 20 percent of my meal, because I know that would make you happy. Sorry.

Tips!:

— If you have student loan debt (holla), opt for consolidation or income-based payments. Loans are life-ruiners, they will extract every last hope from your scared, shaking body. It will be okay. Maybe. Obama hasn’t told me yet. Pay what you can afford so you can actually live your life.

— Set up a savings account and put a consistent amount in it every month. Hey, it’s got to add up at some point right? Put a little extra in when you can, it will make you feel so good, I promise.

— Supplement your income with something that fulfills you creatively. I do this through my Etsy shop, but there’s opportunities for freelance gigs out there (music, art, writing). You just have to take the time to figure them out. I should be doing this more with my own writing, but alas, life happens. It takes time and energy at the end of the work day that I don’t always have. I feel you. Try not to get yourself down about it.

— Spend money on things that make you happy sometimes. I enjoy a trip to Whole Foods every now and again, a nice block of aged Seaside English Cheddar, new fall boots from Nordstrom or a trip to the sale rack at Anthropologie. You can’t let your lack of income literally overcome you. Make sure to treat yoself sometimes.

— Have a physical budget. It doesn’t have to be fancy — mine is a Word document. Seeing concrete numbers helps. Get all up on that Excel if you’re savvy.

— Sorry, this one is cheesy. Do things in life that don’t revolved around money. Go take a walk in your local forest preserve. Shit, that’s all I got. I literally can’t think of anything else that doesn’t involve money. This one is tough. There is though! And it’s those things that are the most rewarding. Spend time thinking about them.

So there’s my two cents (get it? because it’s a blog about money. ha.) Hopefully it helps or motivates you. But really, we’re all just flying by the seat of our empty-pocketed pants.

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A Woman of Many Fears

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Mustache

I’m afraid of a lot of things. To most people that know me well, this probably isn’t such a shocker, because you’ve likely seen me in action. Running, wailing, shuddering. It’s mildly ridiculous and embarrassing when I actually map it out in my head the amount of things that frighten me. It’s like if you went around and polled a bunch of random people and asked them, “what’s your greatest fear?” my answer would likely be everything they said plus about 45 more things. Some of my fears could stem from anxiety, which can get pretty intense at times, but some of what I’m afraid of is concrete. Concrete, I’m afraid of concrete and really heavy things, because what if they fall on you? and avalanches are scary…

but well… Let’s get started, because I need to get this off my chest. 

Exhibit A. I have an EXTREME, unyielding, semi-debilitating fear of centipedes. I’m not talking I see one and I go “ew! someone! kill that thing please! off with its head!” No. I am already down the block, past the Dunkin Donuts and on my way to Memphis. If I see one, I bolt. And then I proceed to panic and hyperventilate and make a huge deal out of this little bug. I’m a human for God’s sake, I’m a million times bigger than it, get it together. But man, those things are gross, and they frighten me on a deep, profound level. If you’ve ever witnessed one of these exits, I’m not playing around here. I almost had to unfriend someone on Facebook that posted a picture of one recently. WTF ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME FOR? I was affronted, galled, angry. Of course this person had no idea that I had to put my shaking hand on the screen to cover the picture while I clicked the “I don’t want to see this” button. And if you, centipede poster, see this, I’m watching you.

I’m also afraid of what I call “phantom centipedes” which can be anything from a feather to dust collecting on the wall to basically anything ever that might, maybe, COULD resemble a centipede. If I think I see one, my fight or flight sense says “kindly get the fuck out of here.” The other day someone said, “why don’t you show that thing who’s boss and conquer your fear, KILL IT, it will feel good!” And I either laughed at them or mean-mugged them, I forget because what an absurd proposal. 

Exhibit B. I’m unreasonably afraid of heights. I watched the documentary “Man on Wire” awhile back (if you haven’t seen it, it’s CRAZY). This man is literally thousands of feet in the air on a flipping wire. WHAT. I think he’s the bravest man in the whole entire world. Balls the size of watermelons. This man was God to me. My stomach was in knots for the entire thing. I have no desire to sky dive, go to that Hancock observation deck (WHAT IF IT BREAKS?) or go to Six Flags. All of those things sound truly awful to me. #sorryimnotsorrybutiamscaredtho

Exhibit C. Anything that is unpredictable and flaps. So birds, butterflies, moths (ESPECIALLY). I do that thing where I run around and put my hands over my ears when there is a sudden, unexpected encounter. I helped my mom clean the birdcage once. BAD IDEA — one escaped. I know, this sounds really silly. And, in fact, it IS silly because I have a tattoo of a freaking bird flying out of a cage on my back. Ah, symbolism. Typing it out I’m like “Lauren, Oh God. TMI, TMI, Tee EM EYE.” It’s real, guys. 

Exhibit D: Haunted houses and people dressed in scary costumes, especially ones that can sense and pray on my fear. I went to Dream Reapers when I was a freshman in college (yes, 18 or 19 years of age) and had to leave the line because some jacked-up dude in a clown costume wouldn’t leave me alone and made me cry. 

Of course, I’m afraid of the not-so-easily-pinpointed, ambiguous things, too. Things that generally most humans are afraid of. I’m afraid of being alone, of being judged, of losing people I love, of making the wrong choice, saying the wrong thing. But I’m also afraid of crossing the street when cars are coming fast, getting burned by the lava inside a Hot Pocket and answering phone calls to strangers.

To be clear, there are things I am ~not~ afraid of: I am, after all, a strong woman. A feminist, a curious adventurer, a lover of the many possibilities this wondrous world beholds. But I have a checklist, and there’s many I didn’t list here, so let’s just make sure we get these things clear before you take me anywhere.