I’m floating in the Chicago skyline; this can’t be good for my budget. Down below, the third-largest city is in full swing, but I can barely hear the traffic from here.
Here, you’re removed from polar weather, abject poverty, and even the tiling of consumption at “The Magnificent Mile.” The price I pay for this distance is staggering – embarrassing even. I hesitate to tell you. On this random Sunday night, the room costs $200.
All summer, I’ve stayed incredibly frugal – hardly ever going out to eat or traveling. To place an endcap to the academic break, a birthday party in Chicago for someone I love seemed fitting.
Activities abound in the rousing ruckus of Chicago: Runs along the lake, comedy shows, Broadway-level theatre, and more. Over the years I’ve done them all. Some have cost me a small fortune to enjoy the entertainment.
My budget – my superego – has hated me every time. Almost like an outside entity, it groans with the credit card swipes. The Excel numbers dance in place to say, “Look at what you’ve done now.”
In total, this celebratory getaway costs me a small fortune; a year’s salary for much of the developing world: $400.
Is it worth it? Yes and no.
This is the last hurrah for the entire summer. I’m stopping unnecessary spend after this little vacation until maybe December. For the first time in my adult life, I truly saved and accounted for this trip. I participated in medical experiments all season to afford this moment. And, most of all, I took pleasure in celebrating someone special in my life – taking the time to show them I care.
Unfortunately, the answer is more gray. I also have nearly $40,000 in debt awaiting me back home – in the real world. A $400 trip will still be financed because it delays that amount of money I could’ve spent on repaying debt. 6.8 percent interest from the Federal government swirls in my head on a near-daily basis.
I’m left in a neutral place – somewhere between budgetary hell and heaven.
This is what I know: When I go out with people, they frequently joke about my frugal life. I think they expect me to be cheap and greedy. What I hope they see is that I’ve adopted this spendthrift lifestyle because I’m failing.
It’s easy for me to spend and challenging to save. Maybe I’m not as good as you, but I aim to be better. I’ve wasted gobs of cash for things I don’t need, and I’m not proud of that. That’s why I’m here, writing to you, and hoping we can share in this journey back to zero (debt).