Ah women. They translate money into shoes, bags, and clothes,” a friend once quipped with conviction while I insisted to my girl friend that we go shopping after a poker session. Although the statement is rather stereotypical, I can’t help but confirm the truth in his statement. We girls are naturally attracted to shiny, pretty things that come in the sexy shapes of stilettos and the complementing shapes and colors of dresses. “You look so pretty! I wanna look pretty too!” is the estrogen-inspired response of a girl upon seeing another sporting an attractively designed dress. Why else would the fashion industry be thriving until today? An officemate calls looking at shoes “inspiration”—for me, flats and heels blur the lines between inspiration and desperation. Of course, the desperation seeps in when I do make the purchase and find myself struggling weeks later but days before pay day.class=”MsoNormal”>Money gives us weakness and power at the same time. Unless of course, you are a talented and successful entrepreneur (Gates or Ayala ring a bell?), it remains a power to keep and grow. Otherwise, the money-making employee (or money maintained trust fund baby) has the power to purchase so much…and feel powerless when it all runs out. Just today, I was forced to save and stick to a tight budget since I forgot all my ATMs at home. It was a difficult but necessary exercise; a slap in the face, reminding me that a balance must be maintained for me to survive.
Not that I should treat myself once in a while—it’s just that passing by two to three malls on the way home makes the temptation difficult to resist. The world is full of unnecessary diversions; it is the creativity (or maybe manipulation) of the human mind that makes these shops, promos, and “innovative” products a so-called necessity.
How then does one draw the line between money as a need or want; or the act of buying as a weakness or power? Having chosen a job that will never pay big, I must come to terms with budgeting as a responsibility rather than burden. It’s a challenge not only pushing numbers (and somehow expanding them) but also in testing my shopping creativity. Where can I get lower deals for the same design or quality, but still look stunning? Brands do carry reliability and durability in their name, but if there’s something similar for less out there, then practicality must take over. It’s crazy to just buy something for the sake of its name and not for what the product is. The diversions are also a test of will power and a gentle reminder of what really is a need. As my economist friend likes to put it, that’s an expense, don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s an investment.
With pay day just around the corner, I’ll have to keep these practical definitions in mind. Apart from saving to get by, there are other bigger things to save-then-spend-on in the future: a master’s degree, living expenses on my own, a car, another hobby, etc. The clutter that is shoes, bags, and clothes can only last so long—similar to the fleeting nature of money. There’s no point in saving money unless wisely placed into something that will benefit you in the long-run.