Figuring out how to handle yourself and your personal finances as a new adult in the nation’s worst recession is a major undertaking. I’m just starting to understand how much I cost, and it turns out that I’m very expensive.
Beyond simply existing, there are questions of savings (Dad no longer doubles as my emergency fund), investments, preparing for retirement (but I just started?!), renting versus buying (HA!) and building credit (turns out you shouldn’t sign up for all those credit cards at the Galleria).
It was all I could do to meet my accountant for the first time (Hi, Mr. Nathans! Thanks for your patience!) and pay the federal government its due. When it comes to the rest, I’m overwhelmed and totally apathetic.
Luckily, I graduated debt free and pay extremely nominal rent for the right to my old bedroom. Also, my landlord’s pretty invested in my not sleeping in the gutter, and she lets rent slide on my birthday, since it was a pretty major day for her, too.
Given my financial freedom, minimal responsibilities and total repulsion at the thought of attending a personal finance class, I’ve lately decided to diversify my closet instead of my portfolio. I consider it investing in my future. I would’ve had to build a professional wardrobe eventually (my college sweats are retired, and I work with Shelby Hodge), so I’ve decided to put some of my earnings toward a few nice, timeless pieces and a handful of impulse buys I won’t regret.
You don’t have to tell me how important it is to save — I just broke in a pair of Cole Haan boots that I got on Gilt for under $200, marked down from $500. Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten (besides, “if you can’t tone it, tan it”) is to think not about how much you’re spending but about how much you’re saving. You’ve got to spend money to make money, am I right?
I may not follow the Dow, but I follow the sample sales. Between Gilt Groupe and RueLaLa, my armoire is bulging with hot commodities that are gaining obvious interest and delivering returns in the form of drinks and dinner dates. “Roth IRA” means nothing to me, but “DKNY” is something I can get behind.
And my preferred investments have never gotten me caught up in one of those Ponzi schemes I keep reading about. I don’t care how many people insist that investing in formal shorts or anything resembling a romper will change my life — common sense says neither could possibly pay off.
I’m no investment guru or fashion plate, as my family and friends can gladly attest with gleeful photo documentation, but I’m learning.