Sep 30, 2009

Spending Addiction vs. Earning Addiction

Unlike most of the personal finance bloggers out there, I'm more of a spender than saver. That admitted, I limit my spending as to not put myself in debt. I still save, or at the least, break even without dipping into my savings.

It's hard, as an adult, to spend "correctly." This year my biggest purchases -- other than my trip to Bloomingdales last weekend and my new favorite $600 leather jacket and updated fall wardrobe -- were laser hair removal and a few classes at my local community college. I probably spent too little in terms of health (with company health insurance and an HSA, I have yet to dip into my company's $100/month contribution. It's extra retirement savings for me, right?)

I do need to write a post on the latest health insurance debacle in the US government, but for now I'm just updating about my spending habits, and how I'm going to stop being ashamed of them, but really try to get them in check.

The good news is that I'm earning a lot this year. My general rule is that whatever I make as base salary for the year for my full time job, I need to try my best to do some side projects here and there in my spare time to cover for any splurges. For instance, I write for a blog (usually at 7am before I head into the office for the day) and make anywhere from $200 - $500 a month doing that. So in a year or so, if I hit the $500 target, that covers... at least some of my splurges. Which makes me feel better about those few days a year when I go to the mall and feed my addiction.

On one hand, I feel guilty for even being able to spend so much. And I have finance voices in my head saying -- save the money. But -- with the stock market recovery and my investing heavily earlier this year, I'm above my net worth for the close out of 2008 already. I could save more. Everyone can always save more. There has to be a line one draws between saving and spending, and I still don't have a clue where that line should be. I love shopping, I love fashion, and I admit I spent about $1000 total revamping my wardrobe so now it's complete with leggings, long t-shirts, and 3 new pairs of shoes that fit both with the trends and my long-term fashion aesthetics, plus my new jacket that I am in love with.

Laser hair removal is even more expensive, but it makes me happy. It's not a necessity, I will live without it, but being hair free is something I've dreamt about all my life. I'm really hairy even after one day of shaving. It puts a damper on my otherwise great relationship. If my legs are prickly intimacy limited to kissing.

So this year, I've invested in myself. And I feel like I should continue to do that, within reason. After all, I'm an adult, an adult without children (for the time being) and I ought to spend on myself a bit before there's other things to worry about... a house payments, school tuition, etc. It's hard to really understand the concept of saving when you're not in debt. How much should I be saving? I'm not sure. I try to make my networth go up a bit each year. I'm hoping as my income increases (if it increases) over my lifetime that will be easier. But who knows. I'm a little lost. But I'm not too lost, and I for once feel like I'm in control of my finances, the control I have is obtained by spending within reason, not by saving. Saving is a byproduct of limiting my splurges.