Economy of One Miss Hag."Where did all my money go? I know I've made some."
Lifting up a shoe, "At $400 a pop, how many of these do you have? Fifty?"
Incredulous look. "Come on . . ."
"A hundred? 400 times 100. There's your down payment . . ."
"Yeah, but that's only $4000."
"No, it's $40,000."
"Forty thou--I've spent forty THOUSAND dollars on shoes and I have no place to live? I will literally be the old woman who lived in her shoes."
(Carrie and Miranda on Finances, SATC)
Where does the money go?
I'm sure you've had this issue. You can't sleep. Your mind starts to wander. You start to contemplate world problems. Your problems. You think about the future. Your future problems. Somehow, it all comes back to money.
If you are anything like me, money problems are the greatest hurdle in achieving personal creative goals. But, it's not just art. Think of any problem that exists in your life, and money probably affects that issue in some way, shape or form. Usually, the problem is a lack of money.
My money desires are not materially driven. I don't yearn for an expensive car or diamonds. I don't painfully lust after designer clothes and handbags. Though, these are all things I appreciate and would certainly enjoy to have.
My biggest desire, moneywise, is to never have to think about it.
I wish for myself and all the people I love the most to be completely debt free. I wish to have enough access to money that I can travel freely and comfortably all the time. I wish to have a tasteful and well-lit apartment in Manhattan with a view of Central Park and a terrace. (Okay, that's a bit of an excess, but, a girl has SOME material desires.)
Certainly, I am not destitute. I am very blessed to have a home and food every day. However, it seems, no matter how good my intentions, I simply cannot seem to keep any amount of money for long.
I am one of the millions of working poor in the United States. The people who have jobs and homes and some material possessions, but no real wealth. People who may have some luxury in their lives, but not so much wealth that they don't ever worry about the price of things.
This lifestyle seems specifically true in New York. Most of the people I know work hard for a living and indulge occasionally in expensive things, but don't seem to have any real liquid assets. Any real savings. But we all work. We all make enough money to live here, which is admittedly quite a lot, but we have nothing to show for it. My friends and I joke that it seems like we spend $20.00 just walking out the door most days.
So, where does the money go?
One of my favorite features of New York magazine is a regular article they run about spending money called "Economy of One." In it, they ask a person to spend the equivalent amount of some exorbitant thing to which they are somehow connected. For instance, they asked the R&B singer,Amerie, how she would spend the $66,136.95 that had so far amassed from the I-Tunes sales of her single "One Thing." They show how a famous architect would spend the amount that it cost to build a recent building he designed and grill Giorgio Armani on how he would spend what it takes to buy a custom beaded dress from his spring Atelier line ($54,375).
It's a very successful feature because it allows the magazine to both highlight interesting items for people to want to consume as well as characterize the personality of a relatively famous person. You can tell a lot by what a person wants when money is no issue.
Then, at the bottom of the page, they have the person detail what they really spent that day. This is the part that I most enjoy to read. It provides a bridge that connects an average member of the capitalist society (me) with the moneyed few (Armani). Moreover, it finally gives some clue as to exactly where the hell one's money goes.
The last time Jason and I were able to save any amount of money, I kept a computerized detailed account of where all of our money went. There is a program called Microsoft Money that let you input all of your expenses and income. Then, using this data, the program makes all these great pie charts and graphs showing exactly what percentage of your money goes to leisure and food and bills, etc. It also projects how much you can expect to save at the spending trajectory you maintain.
So, I thought I would try something similar again. In an effort to illuminate the burdening question of "Where does all my money go?" I am going to attempt an experiment for myself. I am going to try to actually keep track of what I spend for the next week and post it on this blog.
It seems, when faced with the concrete facts, it's often easier to come up with reasonable solutions to one's issues with money. Because, unfortunately, I am not at a point in my life when I don't have to think about money.
Or, perhaps, I'll just be so embarrassed by revealing how much money I waste that it'll learn me to be a better saver.
WHAT I SPENT TODAY (Monday, July 11,2005):
$1.00 -- Two Daily News papers (one for me and one for g8s)
$2.00 -- Cab ride home from work (g8s put in the other $10)
$34.00 -- Two round trip tickets and beach passes for myself and Jason to Long Beach in Long Island.
$8.40 -- One New Yorker and one Glamour magazine (One smart, one trashy...I believe in balance)
$1.75 -- One bottle of Penta water
$31.26 -- Two "Avocollossus" sandwiches (avocado, tofu, carrots, tomatoes, hummus, sprouts), one bottle of Poland Spring carbonated water, one bottle of Trinity water, one package of Tamari almonds, one bar of sandalwood soap, one bar of coconut soap.
$6.00 -- Tip to the sandwich guy at Bob's Natural Food Store.
$4.00 -- Two subway rides.
$18.46 -- Carryout dinner from Trattoria Rino. One caprese salad and one penne a la vodka.
Total -- $102.87
WHAT I SPENT TODAY (Tuesday, July 12, 2005):
$.50 -- One Daily News paper.
$1.70 -- One gallon of Poland Spring water.
$16.75 -- Laundry drop-off from my laundry service. (22 pounds of laundry)
$5.00 -- Tip for the laundry guys.
$4.84 -- Four rolls of Charmin toilet paper.
$6.48 -- One package of Japanese dental flosser thingies and one bottle of Pocari Sweat electrolyte beverage from the Japanese market.
$10.00 - One new Metrocard for the subway.
$20.00 -- 1/3 of the bill for one sushi dinner with Betsey and Patrick at Tomo.
$10.00 -- One after dinner cocktail at the Abbey Pub.
$5.00 -- One John Lee Hooker album found on the street ("I'm in the Mood")
$32.00 -- Two reserved seating tickets to Friday's "Charlie & The Chocolate Factory"
Total -- $112.27