I’ll bet you’ve been in this predicament before. If not, I’m envious. I can only bet $1 though – two minute noodles have gone up this week. Whether you’re studying, unemployed, paying off your Europe trip debt (hola!), or simply godawful with saving, starving bank accounts can cost you a social life and leave you questioning whether living with your folks until they’ve carked it is a good idea. But don’t panic. Even if your only affordable past time is being a couch potato, you’ll still pick up. Like that 10c coin you eyed off this morning. You know, because regular people’s time is worth more than scavenging germy metal off the ground; I wish I could relate, really.
I’ll never forget the time I was tipped $5 by a lovely couple at work. In Australia, people rarely tip, let alone at an ice cream parlour. ‘Are you sure?!’ I exclaimed, as if they were donating their left kidneys. Thank you, super humans. Thank you for shouting me the two potato scallops I devoured that afternoon, for the $1.40 change I then excitedly slotted into my piggy bank, and for giving me hope that perhaps I’ll be financially free one day, too. I’ll buy lavish toilet paper so soft that it’s almost undetectable by touch. If I’m feeling super indulgent, I may just head straight to the new arrivals section of David Jones without so much as a glance at the figure. Those’ll be the days. I couldn’t fake wealthy even if I tried. Marching straight to the sales rack, I assess the first price tag in sight and scorn at the three digits I shamefully anticipated; consequently trudging back through the doors with nothing new but a doleful face.
It’s funny how minimal your expenses become when on a budget. Toothbrush too dear? The children’s Dora version will do. Low on fuel? Wait until it flahes, she’ll be right. No food in the fridge? Breakfast cereal will suffice (although I bloody love cereal, so perhaps I’m exempt from viewing it as a last resort). You learn to appreciate the finer things in life: like brownies made from scratch and not a $3 packet mix, or enough dough to replace those holey knickers you’ve been sporting for seven years.
Sometimes you have to muster up every last ounce of confidence to not compare yourself to others’ success and feel like you’re losing time to do or be something great. But when you put into perspective that over half the human race is in poverty and most will never have the opportunity to live healthily and freely, financial woes become trivial. Just yesterday when I was indecisive at the counter of a jewellery store, the sales assistant said to me, ‘Do you really need this?’ (I know, I’m surprised she still has a job, too). All we technically need in life is food in our belly, a roof over our head and love in our heart. You may be judging my somewhat cringe-worthy cliché, but you know it’s true. Incidentally, there’s nothing wrong with making the most of the resources you have access to, even if they do seem frivolous. By all means, parade through the aisles of Kmart with the intent of spending big for the sake of it, or grab that discounted chocolate ‘cause you know you’ll be waiting another month for the sale otherwise. But when those noodle prices finally drop, slurp your meal with thanks. You’re lucky to have it. ♣