A few weeks ago, my co-worker’s car broke down. He complained daily about the costs it would take for him to fix his car. Transmission repairs don’t come cheap. To make matters worse, he was still making car payments and didn’t have a warranty on it any more. A couple of days later, he found out he needed a root canal. Guess what? Since he’s only a temporary employee, he didn’t have any health insurance. Luckily, I was able to call in a favor from one of the men in my “gaggle”, who happens to be an oral surgeon. He received his root canal, for free, but still had to figure out a way to get his car repaired.
Instead of getting his car repaired, the following week he rolled into work driving a new 2012 Charger. Since I’ve taken on a big sister role with him at work, I took him aside and asked if that was the fiscally responsible thing to do.
A) You’re living with roommates.
B) You don’t have a permanent job (although no job is technically permanent).
C) You’re currently in student loan debt hell.
I explained that he was almost finished paying off the original car; he now has that balance carried over to his new car loan. I didn’t even dare ask the APR he received. After our conversation, he thanked me for bursting his new car bubble, but hopefully I was able to put his irresponsibility in perspective.
In today’s financial hell hole, living above your means isn’t such a responsible thing to do. According to The Motley Fool, the average American owes more than $47k, with the majority of that in credit card debt. It is also said that seven out of 10 Americans are just one paycheck away from being homeless. With unemployment and the job market not looking the greatest nowadays, curbing what you spend is definitely a necessity for plenty of folks.
But that doesn’t always mean much to people.
Some still don’t care. I’ve heard people talk about eating tuna for a week because they’ve just dropped a couple of hundred on a new pair of shoes. That guy pushing the newest Benz had to move back home into his parent’s basement because he couldn’t afford his rent anymore. Even I’ve had my moments of weakness and made irresponsible choices, only to regret that DVF dress I spent way too much money on, and then had to turn around and pay for my son’s braces. I thought to myself as I looked in the mirror, “Damn, I’m wearing some of his braces.”
The moral of this story is to save or try to save more. Even if you are OK financially, it doesn’t hurt to be better. Spend on what you need, not what you want. Even though that dress at Saks is screaming your name, do you really need another little black dress?