I’ve always been told that I was creative. From the days when I would pad around the house with my “I’m a Sesame Street Kid” t-shirt on and a cardboard portfolio in hand, saying that I was going on a “photography trip,” I’ve forever had an active imagination.
My creativity is put to use at different times, however, in different ways. When drinking, the elaborate schemes that I tend to create are, the next day, written off as being ‘creative.’ My dreams? Again, beware — Aubrey’s imagination is at work, including my recurring High School dreams where not only can I not find my locker (or remember the combination, for that matter), but I realize I have a math test/final and alas and alack, I’ve yet to crack the books. Those are what I term my ‘creative anxiety dreams.’
Yet I bring this ever-so-versatile trait into my finances as well. Let me explain.
Us twenty-somethings, we’re (for the most part, and minus a few financial M&A studs that I know) relatively destitute. The relatively part comes into play because while we’re often feigning poverty, it’s not usually that we don’t make enough money to support ourselves, we just don’t make enough money to support ourselves in the exact way that we’d like to.
Point in case.
Let’s just say I’m at a happy hour with some friends. We eat, we drink, and we decide to get an appetizer — say, cheese dip. Well, as it always seems to turn out, I’m rarely carrying cash so we end up splitting it on our credit cards. Now, when the bill comes, my generous side and my fiscally responsible side are battling it out in the Ultimate Fighting Challenge, and more often than not, the generous side (aided by a few drinks) wins. Now, this discrepancy between my budgeting brain and my friendship brain is the exact phenomenon that’s inclusive in what I call “Financial Creativity.”
Let’s do a working exercise here. For all respective purposes, we’ll pretend that my monthly salary is $1000. First, we’ll subtract the bills. Down to $200. Of that $200 to last me the month, the following are things I feel that I DESERVE AS A HARDWORKING WOMAN and justify it in the same way that dieters do food: Anything in moderation is ok. So,
Lunch: Am so happy that I don’t want to stab my coworkers through the eyes with an ice pick (as, ahem, I may or may not have wanted to do in my previous task — no self-incrimination here!) that lunching with coworkers is necessary. Eating at one’s desk is so gauche these days…
Drinks: Atlanta has the reputation of an un-dateable city, so I feel it’s my goal to prove this stereotype wrong. That said, where do you meet people? Out for drinks. Case Closed.
Shopping: No Garden-of-Eden-ing it for this gal — it’s a societal necessity that girls dress for other girls to ‘one-up’ each other on the “classy, head-turning, and offering a little sexiness but not so much that it looks like you’re begging for it” wardrobes. This doesn’t come cheap, my friend.
Target: I dare you to leave there for under $50.
Add in incidentals like the perfect new shade of OPI nail polish, cat food/litter, haircuts, shoe repairs, oh, and grocery store bills, and that $200 was spent 5 times over.
I’ve had enough. I’m instilling the Aubrey Budgeting Plan from this point forward and will adhere to the following stringent rules:
No more Target for me.
Watch out, Bank of America and the like. I think you’ve met your newest financial genius.
May visions of sugarplums begin dancing in your heads, (Christmas IS just right around the corner!)