Other people’s money

(Part 2, the sequel to Netflix and chill – and spend)

When last we saw our plucky hero, a colleague was commenting “You’re a single woman, you don’t have kids, you have lots of money – why don’t you have Netflix? It’s only $10 a month.”

Thus enough content for two blog posts was born. I pulled out my trusty soap box and got started.

soap box

From the outside looking in you have no clue about a person’s financial well-being. In fact, being single is more expensive than being married in so many ways there’s a term for it – we pay the single supplement. Plus there’s the lack of a safety net. (I’m paying 80% of the expenses I had when I was married but with 40% of the income.)

You cannot – CANNOT – tell from appearances what anyone’s financial situation is. You think everyone is doing better than you? Show me the proof, the cold hard numbers. Debt, stress, overspending, living beyond your means – we know they’re big problems in North America. The man with the flashy car and the huge house? The woman who drives a 10-year-old car and patches her clothes? You. Don’t. Know.

When the economy collapsed in 2008/2009, it revealed just how many of us were building our lifestyles on credit and debt. A decade later, the level of consumer debt for Canadians is climbing – an average of $22,837 per person, not including mortgages. That makes us vulnerable.

As The Millionaire Next Door discovered, it’s not the outward displays of wealth that mean you’re rich. People with higher incomes tend to spend more on status symbols, feeling the need to keep up appearances. There’s a difference between income and net worth. Unless you know the intimate details of someone’s financials, you can’t tell what’s really going on behind closed doors.

So stop judging. Stop comparing. Do the best you can, make the best choices, for you.

I’ve heard a lot of “oh it must be nice” and “you’re so lucky” from people who see the trips, the condo, the concerts, but apparently they don’t see the extra time I put into working, the savings I work hard to accumulate or the energy I put into learning so I can make better financial decisions. Plus there’s the whole greener-on-the-other-side thing. Why do I have to justify myself just to make you feel better about your own choices?

Answer is, I don’t.

Jughead and Betty would understand. They’re waiting for me in season two, which I’ll eventually watch – with or without Netflix.

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Netflix and chill — and spend

(Part 1 of Other People’s Money post)

I was chatting with a colleague about how I recently watched the first season of Riverdale (Jughead + Betty forever!), but because I don’t have Netflix I had to wait until it came to iTunes. He said, “You’re a single woman, you don’t have kids, you have lots of money – why don’t you have Netflix? It’s only $10 a month.”

Well, that gave me enough for two blog posts, so welcome to the first one. Let’s get started with Netflix itself and “it’s only $10 a month.”

piggy-bank-3117655_1920

Do you really think I can afford the fees for an image of Jughead and Betty, or Netflix? Instead, please enjoy this cool piggy bank I found free on Pixabay.

That’s $120 a year, not including tax. But I’d have to increase my internet bandwidth and at minimum, that’s another $10 a month, or $120 plus tax. That’s spending $240+ a year on a season of Riverdale.

Yes, there’s a lot of other content on it, but that’s what I feel like watching right now. Even paying as I go to download occasionally from iTunes, I do not spend $240 a year on TV shows or movies. (I track my spending. I work for myself, of course I do.)

When you’re considering spending, what else is involved and what are the whole costs? It’s like home renovations. First you fix the kitchen, but then by comparison the rest of the house seems off, so you keep going and spending. (Canadians spend an awful lot on home renos! ) Or you find the perfect cute top, but it doesn’t go with anything in your wardrobe, so now you need new jeans or a new skirt, and of course then you need new shoes. Hey, I get it, the whole spending scope creep.

One that catches me is the hidden costs to travel. Besides the airfare and accommodations, there’s the vaccinations if needed, the incidentals like sunscreen or bug spray you need to stock up on when they’re out of season and thus more expensive, the Uber fare to and from the airport and so on.

Ever play the game I’d Rather? You may have heard of it in other contexts. Kate Moss once said, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” (Obviously she’s never had chocolate cake. Or tacos. Or… but I digress.) She plays the I’d Rather game – she’d rather be skinny than indulge on food.

Personally, I’d rather put that $240 towards a trip, my concert fund, or some activity that doesn’t involve me sitting at home with my butt on the couch staring at a screen alone. (Even going to the movies, where I sit on my butt and stare at a screen is better, because I like the social aspect.)

Netflix is obviously just not a priority for me right now. Yes I’ll probably get it eventually, but until then I have other things to do with my money. It’s all about your personal choices.

Jughead and Betty will just have to hold on until then.