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I got the idea for this post by reading one of the many blogs I subscribe to. I enjoy reading other’s work for educational purposes, to get inspired by their experiences, and to sometimes get a post idea. This one comes from J. Money at Budgets Are Sexy, where he asks: “What would you do with a $100 gift?” As of this writing, there are over 600 comments on the article (a lot of people are looking for that C-note…) and they range from inspirational to head-scratching. Feel free to check them out but here’s my honest response:
$100 feels a little different these days compared with what it meant in years past and I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. Since buying our business (MFD), spinning the tires, and finally gaining some traction I have challenged myself to remember the days where Monica and I would have a legit debate about whether or not the $12.95 Chipotle trip was ‘necessary’ this week… Or could we put it off another 7 days? Going to the movies was a quarterly occurrence, at best, and one of our favorite past-times had been to come up with unique and truthful excuses as to why we couldn’t go out to eat (or insert other activity here) on a certain night.
It wasn’t because we were homeless or didn’t have the means to do these things (although if we would have, it would have been on borrowed – but technically our – money), we had simply chosen to live the frugal lifestyle that would get us through respective graduate schools with the least amount of debt incurred.
An extra $100 five years ago would’ve made our month and damn, we would’ve loved it! But today I read J. Money’s inquiry and think, “Huh… $100 could knock off 0.05% of our lab bill this month. Sweet. Is it worth taking the time to write the words?”
After re-reading that statement above, it makes me a little disgusted with my mindset there (hence, I’m writing my response although I probably won’t post this on his site).
I was having a conversation with a friend the other day who was telling me about their new position with a private school in Virginia. The position comes with on-campus housing and meals covered, in addition to other perks. They were in the middle of explaining the truly awesome nature of the school and their position when they said, “We only have 3 actual bills right now and I love it!”
I responded, “That is amazing and I’m stoked for you guys!” And like a true only child would, I continued, “We have 3 electric bills right now, and 4 monthly bills over 4-figures..” That stoked the conversation’s fire like the blanket statement you may assume it was. I apologized for the jack wagon-ish statement and asked a question about the residential situation on campus. The fire was rekindled and the conversation raged on, so no worries.
The point is that $100 is still $100. And no matter the number of electric bills, or 4-figure bills we may incur each month, there’s still income coming in that supports those debits. Going further, I can’t lose sight of the fact that $10 here and $35 dollars there will still add up to huge sums, whether positively or negatively at month’s end. And as any good mobster or ‘90s rapper would tell me: “Don’t forget where you come from.”
Today, I’m taking that advice to heart with a re-invigorated sense of personal budgeting. I’m excited to tighten the ship back up.
Now for my answer to the $100 question:
It probably depends on the day but today I’d use the $100 to surprise my wife and daughter with a weekend getaway to either a cabin, nearby city, or indoor waterpark. If it only covers a portion of the trip, that’s no problem. The memories made and time shared will more than make up the difference.
(p.s. – I did submit this to J. Money’s comments section… We’ll see?)
(p.p.s. – I didn’t make the cut…)
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