The ‘self-indulgence’ category

Money Diary of an Aging Gen-X Mom

September 3rd, 2018

Vanessa got me hooked on this weekly column from Refinery29 called “Money Diaries.” Each week, a random millennial journals her lifestyle and spending. It might be a marketing assistant in Illinois or a barista in New York City. You get an inside glimpse into how this person spends her money every day.

The twentysomething folks featured on “Money Diaries” are all scary good with their money — at least by my poor standards. Some of them are making bank in finance or tech jobs, and they’re already saving for retirement and donating a portion of their monthly income to meaningful charities. Others are living on breadcrumbs, yet somehow manage to be in the black every month. This is the point of “Money Diaries”: to illustrate how just about anyone with a decent head on their shoulders can be a wise spender.

I have no idea why this is even interesting to me. I am not a millennial — not technically, anyway — and certainly have better things to do with my time. But ever since I started reading “Money Diaries,” I’ve been joking with Vanessa about what my own submission might read like. Let’s just say that, even were I to fall into the correct age bracket, I probably wouldn’t qualify for a spotlight.

  • Wednesday 4:45 pm Didn’t feel like going downstairs to see if we have any paper clips, so just ordered more on Amazon.

  • Friday 7:20 pm Spent several minutes trying to decide whether $9 is too much for a pint of local organic strawberries that are about to turn. Get into philosophical discussion with myself about quality of life, and decide that $9 is a small price to pay for happiness.

  • Saturday 9:45 am At the farmers market, my favorite place on earth besides my own bed. Spend roughly $30 on breakfast for the entire family. $15 on lemonade. $40 on produce and craft items from local small farms and artisans. $10 on tomatoes and strawberries my kids steal from vendors when I’m not looking. Another $25 on lunch when we’re still there two hours later. Forget to log any of this on my budget because farmer’s market time is so special it’s exempt from reality.

  • Monday 7:50 am Can’t find the little plastic insert that goes into one of the girls’ plastic water bottles — which they have to take to school. The insert is clear, tiny, and totally nondescript, and absolutely has to be removed from the bottle every time you run it through the dishwasher. Sometimes I think kids’ stuff is designed to make moms insane. Order another one on Amazon — ”one touch.” I don’t even have time for a proper checkout this morning.

  • Thursday 8:15 am Spent probably my 400th hour researching twin mattresses online. The girls outgrew their crib mattresses a very long time ago, but are still sleeping on them because I cannot make a decision to save my life. Every time I think I am ready to just settle for cheap IKEA mattresses, Casper and Leesa get back under my skin. Advertising works, people.*

    * In the time it took me to publish this post, I did actually buy mattresses, and was very happy with my choice (Zinus Memory Foam, if you’re interested). When it arrived, I carefully aired out the mattresses for a solid week in our guest room with the air circulating, forbidding anyone from touching them lest a mold spore should alight. I ordered brand new waterproof mattress covers and percale sheets. Got the beds set up, made the beds. It was glorious.

    Four days later, Phoebe wet her bed, and the waterproof pad didn’t help since she somehow managed to pee down the outside edge of her mattress between the mattress and the bed. As my husband says, having toddlers is about practicing non-attachment every day.

I do budget. I keep a strict log of everything we spend, and I scrutinize every expenditure. I’ve also been working hard this summer on getting our family finances together in terms of an “estate plan.” When we finally finished the details of our wills I said to Jon, “Our estate plan is almost finished,” to which he dryly replied, “Great, now we just need an estate.”

I suppose one of the reasons “Money Diaries” focuses on Millennials is because that demographic is still young enough to idealize their budgeting. Life gets more and more complicated. Money becomes just one factor in a daily life that’s imbued with complexity.

 

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