Thursday, October 29, 2020

Extravagant lifestyle will leave U with large debt

If your greatest skill is identified by what comes easiest to you, mine would have to be spending money.

I have honed this skill through years of practice. I have never had a lot of money, but I have always spent all that I had. Saving to me seems pointless at my age and level of income. Why not enjoy myself as much as possible? After all, there is no need to prepare for a rainy day when my rainy days can be brightened with a flash of my Visa. Spending money feels like eating rich chocolate - you know it’s bad, yet it feels so good.

It is so easy to convince myself that my purchase is necessary, as if I truly need this overpriced sweater from Abercrombie & Fitch to protect me from the harsh MSU winters.

Even if I understand that I don’t need something, I can convince myself that after all my hard work, I deserve a special treat. Such is the case with my regular trips to Espresso Royale Caffe to spend what amounts to about $50 a month on what is little more than coffee mixed with Hershey’s syrup.

It doesn’t help that my interests and tastes are more expensive than the average college student’s. I don’t just love clothes, I usually happen to love expensive clothes. I tell myself that I will be able to wear a high-quality article of clothing for longer, making it worth the expense, but unfortunately, the cost of my clothes and their longevity have not correlated.

I also have determined that my favorite pastime, horseback riding, is the most expensive sport in existence. I spend a small fortune to board my horse at a nearby stable and could easily drop $200 at a weekend competition during the summer. These expenses are in addition to the thousands I have spent over the years on training, tack and clothing.

Before you write me off as one of the many MSU versions of Tori Spelling, realize that I am not living off of Daddy’s credit card. Of the money I spend, I have earned 99 percent of it. I am not draining funds off of my parents in any way, and despite my addictions to spending, I am not looking for some rich man to indulge me in a “Pretty Woman” spending spree. Spending money isn’t the same when it isn’t my own.

Nor are any of my possible careers going to be especially lucrative. I do understand that happiness cannot be bought, but in my experience, fun does often have a price.

My loose-wallet spending habits are in my blood. My mother also believes fully in the beauty of spending instead of saving, which has gotten her into some financial crises that frustrate even me.

Before you get sucked into my euphoric picture of credit card bliss, realize that my spending does catch up to me, as it did last week. After a trip to the credit union around lunchtime to withdraw some funds, I realized that I only had about $13 in my checking account. This shortage would not have caused a problem, except for the fact that several of my Visa Check Card purchases had not come through yet. When they did, I knew I would commit banking sin number one, being overdrawn.

My first thought was to ask a friend for a loan, but considering my spending habits, I doubted any of my frugal friends would be overanxious to bail me out. I am a pretty resourceful person in times of crisis, and so I wasted no time in coming up with a list of options. Sell my books back to the bookstore for some instant cash? Not a good idea, since I would just have to buy them back again if I hoped to pass my final exams. Shoplift something expensive and then return it? I deemed that was unethical, even in a crisis, and dangerous, since I have never stolen anything and doubt my shoplifting skills are up to par.

Then I remembered that ASMSU, MSU’s undergraduate student government, will provide students with interest-free loans of up to $100.

Heading up to the third floor of Student Services, wearing my sheepish “Sorry, I need some money” face proved to be less humiliating than I thought. I was able to put more than enough money into my account to cover my previous purchases, and even have some left over to put gas in my vehicle for the week.

Like many MSU students, I am sometimes disenchanted with our student government, but I must commend it for providing the student loan service. I would encourage students to take advantage of this service if they are in a similar bind.

I would like to say that I learned a lesson from this financial fiasco, but in truth, my spending hasn’t changed that much. I like stuff, and stuff costs money.

And after all, I deserve that $20 bottle of banana shampoo from The Body Shop, right?

Jessi Phillips, State News opinion writer, can be reached at phill241@msu.edu.

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