The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

by Beauty

I remember there was a time when I had more time than money. In university my commitments were pretty much limited to a few classes a day, and the rest of the day was mine. My favourite past times included watching TV, playing video games, and watching movies. Sometimes I would read leisurely, but only if my homework load wasn?t too heavy. Leisure reading is no fun when you have a stack of academic reading to complete. The rest of my time was spent ?hanging out? with my friends, whose time priorities were very similar to mine. None of us had any money, so we would just lounge around one of our apartments, or maybe go to the local pub to hang out there.

Often the topic would turn to our lack of money, and our inability to do anything ?fun?. We would joke about how poor we were, and try to one-up each other in demonstrating that we were more destitute than anyone else in the room. One popular game was to determine who was spending the least amount on their groceries. The Ichiban eaters would often lead this race, particular when their dried noodles of choice went on sale for $0.79. Another fun game my friends and I played was to compare who saved the most on their Safeway bill. With a Safeway card you can purchase certain sale items, and the receipt will display the percentage of the money you saved. Each week we would one-up each other by attempting to get by on sale items only. I recall that by the end of our university days, the winner was saving over 50% on their regular grocery bills.

When you?re a poor student with too much time on your hands, you make your clothes last as long as possible. I didn?t buy many new clothes when I was in university, and those I did buy were conveniently located and cheap. While I might have shopped at the Gap in high school, Old Navy suited my needs just fine. Payless was a great place to buy shoes, especially during their two for one sales. Many of my friends were officially still dependent on their parents, and were able to get eyeglasses and dentist visits off their parents? insurance. Others were not so lucky, and had to go without. We saved and struggled, but managed to survive.

Now my husband and I both work full time, and have more money than time. We have no children, so our responsibilities are limited to mortgage, credit card and car payments. Our student loans will be paid off in a couple of months, and then our savings will quickly rise. We are in a position where we can live comfortably in a large urban centre, and buy nice things for ourselves. Yet our savings are increasing but our spending has not. Why?

Both my husband and I work long hours in demanding, fast-paced work environments. We get home late, and throw together a quick meal because we are too exhausted to cook a real one. We then crash in front of the TV, or our computers to work on things we weren?t able to do during the day. During the next couple of hours we prepare for the next workday and get to bed early. At 6:30 AM we?re up and preparing to do it all again. We generally can?t shop after work, because the stores close by the time we get home. On weekends, our time is filled up with doing the chores and errands we weren?t able to get to during the week.

This weekend, I made a real effort to purchase a bunch of things that I?ve needed for a while. Among other things, I desperately needed new eyeglasses, a dental check-up, some new clothes, some new shoes, and groceries. Unfortunately, the eye store and the dentist aren?t open on weekends. I?ll have to go without those services until I can find the time to take off work. Because of my time constraints I needed to hit the closest shoe and clothes stores, which happened to be Old Navy and Payless Shoes. While in big-box land I strolled into the Walmart for groceries, and marveled at how much cheaper all of the food was. After my errands were finished and my chores done, I was finally able to watch some TV and play on my Xbox before preparing for work the next day. Thank God my university days are over, and I can afford to have a little fun.

  • The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same
  • by Beauty
  • Published on June 1st, 2005

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