My financial situation changed dramatically at the end of 2008. I took a major pay cut at work and then decided that so long as I was taking a financial hit it might as well hurt even more - So I went from two posts a week for BlogHer to one. Good for my sanity, bad for my wallet. Stunningly bad for my wallet.
The other thing that happened was that Unnamed Credit Company tried to raise the rate on my last in-use credit card. A lot. From 5.99 to 14.99. So I had to opt out, which means the account closes and locks at the current rate. (Which I believe is technically a certain percentage over a certain government set rate. 5.99 is lower than it was when I got the card.) I wasn't using it that often anyway - But I was still using it on occasion. To buy a planet ticket before I had the money in hand, for example. By the time I have the cash to buy my plane ticket to Chicago for Blogher, it's probably going to be $800 the way it's looking now. Sigh.
So coming into 2009 I've got a whole new lower annual salary and no credit card that I care to use. So not so much with the buying:
- magazines - This feels like an organic decision. I simply don't have time to read them anyway and reading content on paper is feeling stranger and stranger. So the only subscription I'm renewing this year is my Hollywood Reporter, which is a business expense.
- donations - Passing the losses on. I donated a lot of money last year (for me at least), and so I've decided that this year I'm not donating anything to anyone.
- facials - Last year I was finally able to get the occasional facial. It makes a HUGE HUGE HUGE difference in my skin. Sigh. This will be this first thing I book if I ever get my salary back. That and a hair cut.
- salon shampoo/conditioner - Another thing I'd just stepped up to in 2008, and it makes such a difference it's insane. And insanely expensive, so back to the I-Hate-Every-Shampoo-And-Conditioner-I-Try drug store for me. (If anyone's got a recommendation for thin, sensitive hair, please let me know. I was using Bumble & Bumble Gentle with the Thickening or the Super Rich conditioner.)
- clothes and shoes - One good thing about 2008 is that I had real money to spend - for almost the first time ever. And I bought a lot of things I needed, including clothes. And boots. And sweaters. Now I have nice clothes to wear to work and clothes to wear when it's cold - It's awesome, truth be told. So now my goal is to not buy any new clothes or shoes this year.
- bottled water - Brita and Sigg bottle engaged!
So what does this leave? Well, mostly I already spend money primarily on business expenses as it is. And I still get my eyebrows done - although I've changed from every two weeks to every three (which drives me crazy, but saves money). The other regular "luxury" items I spend on are my facial products and yoga. I'm also going to need some plane tickets this year - fingers crossed I get a decent tax return. Oh, and I do spend money on good food. Fresh veggies and the like. My health and appearance are priorities to me, obviously.
One more note on something I struggle with. I'm certainly aware that to a family struggling to get by this list is... full of things they stopped buying long ago, if ever. I know what it's like to cancel a doctor's appointment because you can't pay to park outside the office or you don't have the copay. I know what it's like not to have money for food. I know the fear that comes from being terrified that you will need money for a car repair and simply won't have it. (And I am beyond thankful for the metro I had the good sense to move next to.)
I also spend my life around people with nice houses and nice cars for whom salon expenses aren't something they give any thought to at all. Sometimes it feels like I've spent my whole life like this - caught between the haves and have nots. I find it very confusing when I let myself think about it. I don't know where I fit or what's "right" in terms of spending.
So for now, I'm just focusing on my 2009 mantra: "If You Don't Have Any Money, Don't Buy Anything." So far, so good. And I am very thankful that I'm still able to spend money on some of the things that are important to me.