Thursday, February 21, 2008

"I Can't; I Can't Afford It"

So, just last night, I was having some post-work coffee-and-bitching with a dear friend (and colleague! how lucky am I?), when K called to ask if I wanted to go to this event we'd discussed the night before. He'd been invited via Facebook by a friend. Organ music and silent films (concurrently) at St. Bart's. I like organ music and silent films okay, but I like churches a lot, and just the night before that, we'd been talking about how I'd like to relinquish some of my social-planning responsibilities (and he said something along the lines of "Well, sometimes I want to invite you to do something but I know you won't want to spend the money," which, eek!) so the whole thing seemed ideal.

We walked over there, and found ourselves facing a friendly woman who told us, "It's $10 a ticket." Whoa. Not in the plan. I figured Facebook+no mention of cost=free. I figured wrong! And I'd brought along my friend based on the figuring, too. K saw my face drop, and offered to treat me, which I accepted. I offered to split the cost of my friend's ticket with her, but she turned me down--I felt guilty (though granted, I had just bought her tea).

Now, Krystal was mulling over just these kinds of situations the other day. I agree that sometimes I feel like I'm hinting, "Pay for me, pay for me," which really, I'm not. If I'm not prepared to pay for something, I'm prepared to give up doing it--though obviously, as in this case, I'm willing to accept a gift if it's offered. And the fact that K views my budgetary tightness as a damper on our shared social life is disturbing to me, too--although in this particular case, it wasn't a question of having the money but wanting to go out on Saturday, but was a question of seriously, every penny I have is earmarked for his birthday this weekend.

I'm young and living in New York, and I want to enjoy that. But I also want to be able to have a savings that can be a real cushion for me, something that ultimately makes my life easier. I'm looking forward to loosening up a bit at the end of this year, when presumably I'll have my $10,000 Freedom Fund all saved up, but perhaps I should make some compromises before then, too. Or perhaps I just need to involve K more in my planning, so that I can take into consideration the stuff he'd like us to do. The problem there is that while I like to know what's going on two days in advance or more, he likes to fly by the seat of his pants. Maybe we can make some compromises.

In general, I don't feel like my finances put a big damper on my social life, mostly because most of my friends are in similar financial positions to mine. I didn't feel bad this weekend saying, "I can't; I can't afford it" when some friends (one visiting from out of town) said they were planning on going to a play that night. We'd been hanging out all day, and you don't talk during a play, anyway, so I didn't have a problem bowing out--and actually, they ended up not going, and not because of me, so we got to keep on hanging out. And these past couple of weeks are sort of a special case, because I've been so tight so as to be able to blow a big amount of money for the next few days: fancy dinners, theater tickets, birthday cakes from beloved local bakeries, etc.

Nevertheless, I think this issue needs a bit more thought and attention. I'm going to have my eye on this.


Deborah said...

My husband and I had almost this exact conversation last week. I am much more of the "let's not spend money!" variety than he is, and this has started to make him feel a little deprived. We're going to review our budget, and try to work a little extra money into the entertainment department. Most of my reluctance is due to my student loans - I want to be read of them! But I know that down time is important too.

Anonymous said...

I've definitely had some issues with my boyfriend over things like this. I am in the process of paying off over 10K worth of credit card debt and trying to establish a substantial freedom fund, but since we roughly split our "going out" expenses (we don't live together), that sometimes means that I have to say no to going out with my friends during the week in preparation for having to pay for weekend outings with my boyfriend. Since we don't live together, though, I don't feel that I can impose my budget and financial goals on him. It's frustrating.

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