Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I'll jump if you do...

As far as I'm concerned the "jumping off a bridge after a friend" metaphor our parents seem to think is plausible is one of the most irrelevant things parents ever said to children. First of all, is the bridge over water, or an eight lane highway? Do I get a parachute? Do I get a bungee chord? If so , Hell yes! I've always wanted to do that, and if one of my friends is going to as well, why not?

Also, how does jumping off a bridge compare to eating two cookies instead of one? Or seeing a PG-13 movie when you're only 12? Why is it that parents compare death to such small things when we're children? My mother is a lovely person, don't get me wrong, but I'm still afraid of powered sugar because of her, and from age 4 on I thought every single male was going to abduct me and eat my organs in a soup. I thought "fertilization" was peeing till we talked about mitosis in science (waaay after sex ed, private school teaches you nothing), and I never dove into the shallow end, even though I was on a swim team and knew perfectly well how to dive into shallow water. I ran through the house one time when I had strep throat because she told me my heart could stop and I was determined to keep it pumping, and even though I love Dimetapp more than any adult should, I don't drink it for fear of kidney failure.

okay, the last one may be legit. If they made Dimetapp juice I'd never drink anything else, that stuff is amazing. I may or may not take a sip every now and then when I don't need it. Actually I never need it, I'm fully capable of taking NyQuil, it just doesn't do it for me like a cold swig of Dimetapp.

When you're a kid you have to learn so many things, and because of the vast amount of things you have to learn, your parents decided that scaring you into listening is the best policy for making it stick. Now, I am grateful that I'm alive today. I never choked on powdered sugar, my heart never stopped beating because of strep throat, and I was never stolen out of my front yard by a man looking for a puppy who wanted to pay me with candy; but I also never got to eat that second cookie... or watch Jumanji till I was about 15.

Even though my parents would liked to have kept me completely from harm and never let me learn to read, let alone talk, I wasn't the bubble girl. I read a lot, and I sometimes have trouble keeping my pie hole closed. I fell down, I got hurt, I made mistakes, I lied to my parents. I had friends over while they were gone, boyfriends. I am not pregnant and I never have been. I stayed up late on school nights and ate junk food. I've seen movies that gave me nightmares and I went back for the sequel. I've driven to Chicago with friends on a whim and stayed in dirty prostitute hotels because I was only 18.

God himself punished us for that one though... the tire (entire tire) fell off the car on the way home. We were almost hit by a semi who later retrieved our tire and gave us yoo-hoos...

But you know what? I'm alive. I'm smarter, and I know that a lot of the wisdom I've acquired is from making those mistakes myself, not living in fear of powdered sugar. 

Peer pressure does have a place, and positive peer pressure is just as prominent as negative. I've personally not done something because I didn't know what my friends would think of me if I did, and I've also done things because I feared what my friends would think if I didn't. But now that I'm legally an adult where does that fit into my life? How do my friends effect me now, and how do the decisions I make today effect my life in 5 or 10 years?

I can honestly say that last night I spent $33 I did not intend on spending because my friend wanted to go out to dinner, and drink. I had already eaten and there was plenty to drink at home, but because he was hungry I went. I ended up getting an appetizer, a side salad, and 2 drinks. I wasn't hungry, he was. I didn't want to spend $5 on drinks I had at home he did. But, because I was with him I decided to do what he did, therefore spending money at a restaurant that I didn't need to go to. Why? Why did I do something I really didn't want to just because someone else did? I can honestly say it's because the movie we were watching was boring, and I like restaurants and wanted a change of scene. But still, I could have gotten coffee... I could have gotten water. I didn't have to spend any money at all, he was just looking for company; but I was there, so why not?

Peer pressure is why not. I did it because he did. I jumped off the bridge, into oncoming traffic, and it cost me $33.

I like to think that I'm good with my money. I'm in less debt than a lot of people I know, and I have never been late on a payment for student loans, my car, a credit card, or anything else. I know this because I was curious about my credit report and checked it yesterday for the first time. I'm confused about a lot of what it says... but I have someone who I know can help me.

Because of the current state of the economy I am trying harder than ever to get educated about smart financial decisions. Of all the life lessons my parents taught me, smart money managing wasn't one of them. My parent's didn't have the knowledge to teach me even if they had wanted to, bless them. You can't teach something you don't know; but you can set a bad example. And I was smart enough to learn from their mistakes.

If you're interested in seeing where you stand in financial fitness based on other twenty-somethings click on over >>here<< and take the test. My results are basically average which surprised me considering I felt like I was doing a good job. The best part of that is "average" is "good". Most people are good. I was also surprised by that. I guess I shouldn't lose my faith in people so easily.

As far as I'm concerned monitoring your money is the most important thing you can do as far as financial well being goes. If you know where you stand you're more likely to not make mistakes. Friends can encourage you to spend money you may have not intended to spend, but as long as you're on top of your money you'll never go over your limit... I take that back, as long as you don't listen to your friends more than your inner self and you monitor your finances regularly you'll never go over.

My best friend graduated from college in three years and now has a great job he loves. He worked his butt off for it and is reaping the benefits. In a few weeks he and I are going to Myrle Beach for the first time in our lives and it's because we are both financially stable right now. Today I have about $6 in my bank account because I have been buying things for the trip (hotel, tickets to shows...) all on my debit card because he will be paying me back, but because I know where I stand on a day to day basis I'm not afraid of having an account so low. I also get paid today, the check is still in my purse though; which is another reason I'm okay with being so close to 0. Vacation is exciting, and I wouldn't be going if if weren't for my friend. Splitting the gas and hotel makes it affordable, having someone to go with makes it fun. And because he wanted to go to, we're really doing it.

Another exciting adventure I'm going on this coming month is a weekend trip to New York City. I planned my budget accordingly, I'm taking a bus (I shopped around and with two different companies I saved a total of $50 on my round trip, saving money is very good, all you have to do is look around) and I'm staying with a friend. All these trips are only possible because I have friends who are helping pay for things and making suggestions for good deals.

When you grow up in a house that doesn't emphasize the importance of smart spending , having positive peer pressure around you is a must. I dated a guy recently who owns a house, and because he was responsible financially he never tempted me to be rash with my spending. Other friends of mine, the ones who live paycheck to paycheck because they are still in school and struggle a lot are less likely to think about saving and therefore aren't that good of influences. High school friends (the freshmen from my senior year just graduated, I no longer know anyone in high school who isn't my little sister or her friends) are also not good examples... but I can be a good example to them and I try to be. I try to suggest things that don't cost money or are very inexpensive. I talk to my little sister about the importance of saving v. spending and value over cost. Not that a 16 year old girl would ever listen to me, but I can try. And saying things over and over again means that she may eventually hear me, and remember something when she is faced with a difficult decision.

Money is something people hate, why do you think communism has such appeals in theory? All animals are created equally, some are just more equal, right? Wrong. Not every person has the same capabilities, and that's why I am here to fight for all I'm worth, and maybe build a little credit while I'm at it. Because I like to sleep in a bed with sheets. And I'm not a pig.

Disclaimer: This post is part of the 20SB Blog Carnival: Friends & Money, sponsored by Charles Schwab. Prizes may be awarded to selected posts. The information and opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the views or opinions of Charles Schwab. Details on the event, eligibility, and a complete list of participating bloggers can be found here.

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