Saturday, April 28, 2007

Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck, or Why I work my Rear End off and Don't Buy Designer Clothes

I have to say, lately I'm working like a madwoman. I don't like it. I'm tired, I'm cranky, and I'm ending a lot of my days so tired that I can't keep my eyes open.

So why on earth would I do this to myself?

A co-worker of mine at job number one asked me to do something the other day and I said "I really can't, I'm pretty busy. . . " She didn't seem to hear this though, so finally I told her "Look, I have another job after school."

Her whole demeanor changed. She was embarassed, she looked guilty and apologetic. Not what I was going for.

I know I'm not the only person I work with to have a second job. We really don't make all that much money. The difference is, several of my (rather older) co-workers need to do this in order to keep up with their expenses. They can't pay their bills until they've gotten all of their paychecks for the month. They really NEED the money.

I don't.

I don't need my extra job money, or any money I make online, to pay my bills. We are always about a month ahead in our checking account, so that I can pay my bills before I get my paycheck. When I make my budget, I make sure that all of our monthly expenses can be covered by my full time salary and my husband's stipend. So why on earth would I work as hard as I am right now?

Because I never want to need the money that bad. I want to have choices, I want things to get easier as I get older. I don't want to be forty five, with teenage kids, working until midnight because otherwise I can't pay the mortgage. I want my debt paid off, my retirement savings underway, and my future planned while I still feel young and energetic, and while I still have few obligations. I would rather work hard now, and get ahead, so that later my life will be easier. The funny thing is, when you make money and don't spend it, you still have it later (with interest!)

The same co-worker who was embarassed at the idea of me working extra once talked about her designer shoes and handbags. "I deserve it," she said. "You can't take it with you." A few weeks later, she said "Can someone else drive? I can't put gas in my car until after payday."

All I could think to myself was how glad I was not to live that way.