Sunday, March 27, 2011

03.27.2011 Smorgasboard

Ahhh ... I hope you've been enjoying your weekend! I know I've been enjoying mine! It's been so quiet and mellow here. I've done all sorts of household-y errands-y things like grocery shop and buy cleaning supplies, sweep and mop the kitchen and common areas, tidy up my room and run a couple loads of laundry, fold clothes, start on my taxes, and in a bit I'll cook up some food for the week. In between, spouts of sewing and knitting while March Madness plays in the background.

Do you watch college basketball? I really only watch the March Madness tournament each year, but I love how it's more tactical and less "shock and awe" than the NBA, the way luck can be such a large element - due to the nature of single elimination tournaments, small things can make a big difference, like whether or not a key player draws a couple early fouls, the randomness of somebody having an "off" game or if they're on fire. I'm also totally one who talks to the TV screen - "Rebound!!!" or "You have to go inside, those 3-pointers aren't working today!" or "DON'T FOUL HIM!!!" or "Niiiiiiiiiiiiiice" ...

My roommate, the one I've only known a couple months, keeps saying to me, "Really??? You're interested in/do X? I totally don't see that!!!" X, in this case, being basketball, or watching sports in general. Which is funny, because if you knew me in high school I'll bet this would be no surprise, I was terribly into sports in high school. Probably if you asked those friends who knew me then if they thought I'd be into sewing and knitting and stuff, you'd get that same "Really??? I totally don't see that!!!" reaction. Even though both have always been "me" maybe they're just more apparent at different stages in life.

But anyways as I was mopping the floor today, I was thinking with some amusement that here I was, "slaving" away, whereas my other roommate would probably just hire a cleaning lady and be done with it. Not that I have anything against hiring a cleaning lady persay, but for me personally, I don't exactly feel like I have the finances to afford a cleaning lady. Or rather, I suppose I could hire one if I wanted to, but I don't mind cleaning and I'd rather save the money towards something else. I've seen plenty of people my age make that time/money tradeoff ... and I wonder if we're an odd generation, or maybe I'm the oddball in my generation.

My parents were up for dinner last night, and they were remarking about a comment that some GenY'ers had made in some article that, "We don't have enough discretionary income to save for retirement!" Wrong, said my parents, first you put money away for retirement, and anything that's left over is discretionary, not the other way around. I don't think we're a particularly financially literate generation, although to be fair I think financial literacy has gotten a lot more complex than it was a couple generations ago. I still remember reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and how they cut a slit in the bottom of a tin can, flipped it over and nailed it to the floorboards, and then deposited a nickel in the can each night to save towards buying a house.

For people in my generation, I feel like it's hard not to look around at our peers and feel like we, too, would like to be out making Starbucks runs each morning, that we "should" be able to have dinner out with friends a couple nights a week, lunch out with coworkers a couple days a week because it tastes so much better/is so much more convenient than leftovers, that if everybody else is out partying on the weekends or whooping it up in Vegas then why can't we skip out of town on the coming 3-day weekend too? Or buy the latest trends because they're all over magazines, or just pick up something new for each birthday, trip, and other major life event because that's what we've always done. It's all over TV and we think we see that in our peers, and so we think it's "normal" and then it feels like if we do not "have" this lifestyle ourselves, we are somehow deprived. Or maybe this is just how it is in the big cities, but I've noticed that vibe for several years now in the various places I've lived.

As I have to keep reminding myself, spending up to the very limits of my paycheck actually has a twofold effect. I'm not saving anything, and I'm acclimating to a heavy-spending lifestyle so that pretty soon I'll feel tied to a certain income level, handcuffed to a job because it'll provide that standard of living. As tempting as it may be to buy, buy, buy, I have to keep reminding myself that by not spending so much, I'm actually buying freedom and flexibility -- so that I could take a lower-paying job if it meant doing something I truly believed in, or divert on an unconventional detour for awhile and trust that it will be OK. "Investment towards my future," I keep reminding myself. "I'm investing in my future ... by not buying that now." It works sometimes. I keep trying.

My latest sewing project. I do realize that all these fabric and yarn purchases might just be in violation of the "investing in my future" mandate I've given myself. Sigh. That's, like, the next frontier and fodder for another post.

OK. I'll leave you with a couple favorites from the past 2 weeks of MMM. The rest are up on Flickr.

Olive green tights were my piece of green for the day! Scarflet is only handmade component of this outfit. Love the juxtaposition of the thrifted dress and the expensive suit blazer. An admittedly short dress for work standards, I probably won't wear it in again.

What are your fallback "look"s that you go for when you're tired? For me, I have certain color combinations that I gravitate towards - purple and green, purple and orange, green and orange, one of the abovementioned with gray and/or brown or just plain brown. Although, oddly enough, I don't have all that much green and orange and purple.

As my friend says, I look like I'm wearing a doilie!


poet said...

Oh, I know this dilemma! I've been struggling with similar inner debates. On the one hand, now that I'm still in school is the time that I've got a flexible schedule and can travel, go to concerts, movies, etcetera, but on the other hand, now is the time that I'm on a rather tight budget, and doing all these things means not making any savings. And if I'm not used to making savings, how shall I start doing this later in life...? Luckily I have a knack for getting unwanted items for free (gifted cast-offs, things people are setting on the sidewalk for free... today I scored a quilt, which is in the process of boiling and disinfecting!) - so my resources for crafting, at least, don't cost me much.

Minnado said...

I sympathise with your struggles about spending/saving. I see it froma slightly different stage where i am saying to friends that i can't do certain things with my kids that they are doing due to a lack of funds. I still try hard and my kids do get treats and trips to places, but we don't have money to do impulse costly trips or visits at last minute. I see lots of my son's school friends with new everything and holidays abroad but often that is just bought on credit and so I comfort myself that we are not building ourselves a house of cards financially speaking. Phew...enough seriousness? Outfits still looking good :)

Roobeedoo said...

I reckon sewing your own clothes is an investment in yourself. You are being creative and making yourself look good too = double prizes!
I do like that dress pattern - maybe I need to have another look at modern patterns instead of constantly sewing vintage.

Ali said...

You're preaching to the choir, at least when it comes to me! But you ask a great question, are we an odd generation or are we oddballs (plural) in this generation?

I read somewhere that this generation's version of the anti-establishment fervor that gripped the young during the 60s and 70s has manifested in a much more personal level. It's not marching on Washington, telling people they're bigots, etc. It's DIY, supporting your local community, making change in our own personal lives and not having the presumption to necessarily press that on others.

I like thinking of it that way. It's certainly harder, I think, to hang out with folks in a different income bracket (this sounds awful, I know, sorry!) because the range of possible entertainment far exceeds my own. But actually, now that I'm working full time, I'm also realizing that all those years of near poverty helped me, because I frankly don't find half of that interesting. I want those things to be treats and treasures in my life. I want to keep my pleasures close to home. Perhaps put another way: I want my entertainment to be much more internal (close relationships) than external (trips to Vegas), and to me that's as important as the money/time tradeoff.

But I've been thinking about this a lot -- and time is by far my most precious commodity. Anyway, I'm all over the map -- but thanks for this great post!

quietandsmalladventures said...

i'm not into basketball (it's the only sport i really don't like since mr q&s made me be at least passingly interested in baseball) but my school just made the final four so i have to appear interested. as far as the feeling like i should be able to go to starbucks or dinner a couple of times a week...i don't usually. i like drinking out and eating out once a week, but coffee i like at home. but i know i'm weird :)

Violet said...

I too would love to cut down on my spending so I can work less. Unfortunately there is one flaw (actually, several!), and that is that jobs are damned hard to find - and sometimes you either work all the time or you don't get to work at all.
I love, love purple and green as a combination. Not that I have any outfits in that combo, but I'm thinking about it a lot.

Violet said...

oh yes, the other thing I was going to say was - sure, save for your retirement if you can, but there's no sense in sacrificing present happiness for a future may not even happen (not that I mean to be morbid, but not everyone lives to retirement age). So it makes sense to me to live a little while you can too.

Zonnah said...

Your post made me think of a book I am reading right now called Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology. Even though this book is mainly about technology it can be applied to the acquisition of stuff as well and how it zappes your time and energy. Also, it talks about how when you do without you actually feel like time slows down instead of speeding by. Everyone asks for more time right?