Financial lessons from Les Misérables

I drove home two weekends ago and, as often happens when I’m there, my mother and I had a culture weekend.

I love musicals and I love ballets (and I did plenty of both in years gone by[*]), but, as odd as it sounds to say this, honestly I could afford to see so many more shows back when student tickets were an option. It’s just a fact of life that buying tickets to the Kennedy Center doesn’t fit in my budget at the moment. But since my mother and I both love them, she’ll usually buy a ballet or musical (or sometimes both) ticket to bribe me to come home as inducement for some mother-daughter bonding time.

This time, as an early birthday present to me, we saw the Carolina Ballet perform Romeo and Juliet and then saw Les Misérables that evening.

I’ve seen both shows before (Les Mis is one of those that gets me every time), so I could better appreciate that essentially the theme of the day was “love at first sight” followed by “everyone dies.” It was dramatic, to say the least.

Obviously the ballet had no words, so even if I could pull some brilliant personal finance-related things out of a tale of two very young star-crossed lovers, they would be hard to narrate, given that ballet is a visual art. (Yes, of course I’ve read and seen the play. I’m still not dissecting Romeo and Juliet.)

Communicate with your partner might be one—and one that has financial implications for those of you who are partnered up. Honestly there would be no need for the entire story if they could just text each other:

“hey so imma appear dead when u see me but don’t worry it’s only fake so I can get out of marrying that totally lame other dude my parents want to hook me up with UGH lol”
“ok cool lol then i def won’t bring the poison that’ll come in handy when i think ur for REAL dead hahaha love u see u in the crypt!”

BUT ANYWAY. It’s hard to write a post about a ballet, but a musical? That’s a whole ‘nother ballgame.[**] Especially because almost two weeks later and I’ve still got Les Mis songs in my head on constant repeat.

It all started with that fateful song, “I Dreamed a Dream.” Continue reading “Financial lessons from Les Misérables”

What are your trade-offs?

Essentially all of life is a trade-off: when we say yes to something, we’re saying no to something else. We trade our time and energy 40 hours a week at our jobs in exchange for a paycheck, which means saying no to the myriad of other things we could or would rather be doing during that time.

When we say yes to an evening in reading a book or watching tv, we say no to an evening out somewhere or spending time with friends. And vice versa.

When we stay up late writing blog posts, we say no to getting more sleep. Ahem, I digress. Continue reading “What are your trade-offs?”

The intersection of money and mental health

While this is ostensibly a personal finance/financial independence blog, I don’t want it to be strictly about money. I tell a lot of stories about my life to illustrate points, that yes, are related to personal finance, but I want to continue talking about travel, food, privilege, mindsets, habits, and my ridiculous collection of brightly-colored flats. This blog is about my journey, which involves way more than the cold, hard numbers of grocery price comparisons.

Here’s a big thing I haven’t talked about yet: I deal with depression and anxiety. Continue reading “The intersection of money and mental health”

Some of the things I’ve bought over the years

(aka Amazon is sometimes a dangerous game)

I’ve talked before about how I’m a natural spender. I’ve been noticing a tendency lately to want to buy things—and I succumbed and bought two prints the other day. At some point I’m going to run out of wall space for those, but I suspect it’ll be that event that makes me finally stop, not some act of self control on my part.

I had a tab open earlier today for a pine-scented candle. It took me a few minutes to blink, take a second look at that tab, and close it out. I’ve got a bunch of candles. Hell, I have the supplies to make my own. I don’t need an expensive holiday-scented candle, as fantastic as that would smell. I’ve got better things to do with my money. But I still had that tab open. Continue reading “Some of the things I’ve bought over the years”

Everything you never wanted to know about my shoes

When this goes up, I’ll likely be in the midst of trying to get an hour or two of sleep in between my red eye flight back from Portland and dragging my sorry, jetlagged self to work (boooooo). Actually, I’m hoping I’m asleep at the moment and not dealing with a delayed flight/still trying to get home from Dulles, which might as well be in Canada for how far away from DC it is.

(I’ve learned a lot from this trip: mainly, Frontier sucks and will change your flights 12+ hours on you just a few days after you book them; it’s a good thing I have family in Denver since I didn’t originally have an overnight layover there; and also, the limit of how long it takes to get out to the suburb wasteland that is the Dulles airport does not exist. I already knew this but it was reinforced in the process of trying to figure out just how many hours I needed to leave before my flight on Thursday evening. The answer was four, for anyone wondering.)

So light, frivolous post it is! Continue reading “Everything you never wanted to know about my shoes”

Progress, not perfection

Ever since I can remember I’ve struggled with perfectionism. Maybe it’s oldest child syndrome or something, but somewhere early on I got this idea in my head that everything I did needed to be perfect. I had to get perfect grades growing up, and let me tell you, in college that translated into way too much time spent studying and absolutely way too much heartache over my few A- grades. I had to be the nice, well-behaved child or I’d let my parents down somehow. I needed to know what was happening three weeks in advance so I could put it in my planner. I didn’t start drinking until fairly late in college because I was afraid to lose control.

During college I recognized that being so inflexible and focused on everything being just right was making my life harder, not easier, and less fun, so during my sophomore year I tried to start relaxing my uptight perfectionist qualities, just a bit. Continue reading “Progress, not perfection”

Intro

I am just going to jump right in because if I don’t, I’ll get overwhelmed about how to lead off and I’ll never get started. So without making this sound too much like a dating profile, my name is Erin, and I’m a mid-twenty-something living and working in Washington, DC. Last summer I started feeling like I was dangerously on the verge of living paycheck to paycheck (because friends leaving town for bigger and better things like grad school means they start crossing bars and restaurants and activities off their DC bucket lists and that is not cheap!) and emphatically did not want to continue down that path, so I began looking around for information about budgets. Continue reading “Intro”