Money Matters: Getting Used to Having It

M and I belong to an enviable category of young adults with a lot of expendable money. We are a couple of DINKs — Double Income, No Kids. We both have good jobs, jobs we almost enjoy, even. We are very conscious of our financial position.

And yet, when I honestly look at our spending habits, I can’t say they’ve actually changed that much. Yes, we go out to eat a lot more often. Yes, we occasionally go shopping. And yes, some prices that used to seem expensive to me no longer bother me. But I still won’t buy a full-priced dress from Le Chateau, and I’ll hardly even step foot in any store of the caliber of, say, Banana Republic. Or, even the Gap, for that matter. And I still felt guilty after I spent a couple hundred dollars on a day shopping with some girlfriends, even though I’d been psyching myself up to spend the money for the whole week prior.

We might be DINKs in theory, but in practice, M and I still feel a lot like students.

We still do our groceries like students: we’ll pick up the cheapest brands, even if the loss of quality is significant. We still eat a lot of ground beef because it’s cheap. We won’t buy frozen pizza unless it’s on sale. We buy big cans of cheap coffee, because the more you buy, the cheaper it is. We’ll stand in front of a display of spices, meat, cheese, canned soup, cereal, anything, doing the math to make sure we’re getting the best deal.

The few times we’ve been shopping since becoming DINKs, we’ve done the same thing we did before we combined incomes and, well, actually had incomes. We window shop. We admire. We judge. We wish. We might even try stuff on. But most of the time, when it comes down to it, we leave everything behind. Even the times we go shopping with a plan, we walk out with much less than expected: instead of dropping the planned $80 on a new dress for attending weddings, I found a beautiful one for $20. Instead of splurging on a beautiful expensive pair of shoes like I said I was going to when I was offered a full-time job, I settled on two pairs of cute (mostly practical) flats for about a quarter of the price I had planned to spend.

We hate thinking about what we’re paying for car insurance and refuse to get a second car (or even a new car) in order to keep our rates down.

We hacked our dog’s hair off with scissors when it got too long instead of spending the $60 it would have cost to have her professionally groomed. (All the other dogs probably laughed at her and her scraggly-cute haircut for weeks.)

We rarely buy Tim Horton’s coffee, even though it’s as accessible as an elevator ride.

We won’t resort to a gym membership even though the gym in our condo is rather lack-luster. Instead, we end up working out, well… no where, mostly.

After 5 years of watching the numbers in our bank accounts drop and drop and drop, we love our balance and how it grows. So, we just hold on to it, all of it. Which is fine. But at some point, we’re going to have to be careful. We’re going to have to make sure that we aren’t hoarding our newly discovered wealth to the detriment of our lifestyle. We’ll have to recognize when we need to spend money and when we can do with what we have. And, we’ll have to be especially careful to recognize when we should spend money, even when we know we can do with what we have. At some point, we’ll need to get used to having money and start getting used to spending money.

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