Friday, April 16, 2010

Selective luxury in a restricted life, or should I shell out for a nice apartment?

As I've written before, moving and starting grad school seem to have brought about spontaneous and substantial decreases in my monthly spending. The reasons for this are pretty obvious--I live a narrower life now, and there is less stuff to spend money on. No going out for drinks, no vacations, no health insurance premiums, fewer groceries even, because the store is so far from my apartment that I only go a couple times a month. The main recipients of my money are now my landlord, Amazon, coffee shops, sandwich shops, and Old Navy's online store (all stores are inconvenient to my house). I've even become willing to pay the $7 shipping fee, because the time it would take to schlep to the nearest actual Old Navy is just not worth risking that the hoodie I want isn't even in stock. I could read like 30 pages of Aristotle in that time!

The result of all this is that I've been saving a decent amount of money out of my stipends. All is well in Cheapness Studies Land, except that your thrift theorist is getting married this summer and needs to find new digs for herself and the future Mr. Self-Important, and the cat. Cambridge, while no New York, is a pretty overpriced place in its own right, where for $850 a month, you can have the privilege of residing in a tiny room of an elaborated three-story wooden shack with slanted floors, thin walls, and no insulation. And that is with roommates splitting the cost. Up to now, I have always apartment-hunted by prioritizing the rule that more people in fewer rooms equals less rent. But this rule no longer applies.

This brings us to the current forecast: as of June, I will be living in a 1.5 bedroom work of awesomeness, convenient to school, coffee, and groceries, and complete with a dishwasher. It is true that I don't exactly make tons of moneyz, and the future Mr. Self-Important is a law student, so he makes negative moneyz. But I don't think this should really be an impediment, should it? If I don't spend money on anything else, can it be ok? If I am 25 and married, can I be an adult person with level floors and brick walls and maybe even furniture purchased from a retailer not based in Sweden, even if it cuts into my savings?

I have tried to compensate for this irresponsibility by getting a part-time job, and promising myself to write articles this summer. That is my cheapness penance. I am repenting, and also doodling floor plans and possible furniture layouts in my notebooks during class.

On a related note, between silver clogs and luxury apartments, I think the mission of this blog has officially been subverted.


Phoebe said...


"between silver clogs and luxury apartments, I think the mission of this blog has officially been subverted."

Could be. Or it could be that The Cheap feel such immense guilt whenever spending does happen that it sounds as though people like us spend more, when in fact we're just hyper-aware of the money we do spend.

But anyway, your new place sounds great, not at all over-the-top. And living as a couple, sharing a space that might well be intended for one, can save as much as living in a million-roommate situation. It can allow for far more cooking at home, far less 'sure, drinks at the bar down the street sounds like fun!' At least, that's been my experience.

And congrats on both getting married and getting a dishwasher!

Anon256 said...

maybe even furniture purchased from a retailer not based in Sweden
The new apartment sounds reasonable enough, but that's no excuse to get carried away.

It seems strange that you would suggest that making more money is valid "penance" as a substitute for spending less. If that works then stockbrokers are cheaper than grad students.

Matt said...

When I was in law school most law students spent borrowed money as practice for spending their future real money, and so almost all lived in nicer apartments, often by far, than I did, despite the fact that I wasn't paying for law school and was even paid a stipend, as part of the PhD part of my program. I suppose that this has changed somewhat with the change in job prospects from the time when I graduated from law school, but if this future husband is a Harvard Law student it still surprises me a bit that he's not living on future money enough that getting a decent apartment shouldn't be too hard. (If he's not a Harvard Law student then he's being perfectly sensible.)

Miss Self-Important said...

Not a Harvard Law student. Even if he were, I would not countenance this loans-for-luxury strategy.

Rogger Mcloud said...

I did the same thing I am shelling out for a nice apartment because I was tired of living in a house which is not so nice. I mean, when I got to my place I wanted to go to somwhere else, because I couldn't stay there. The place was awful and I couldn't reach my interior peace there.

So I decided to change my life a little bit and to work more, not to go out for a drink so oftenly, to eat rice some times and you know. It is just for a few years. And then I will be back to my normal life. Is not difficult in Buenos Aires rent an apartment that will be very nice. But it cost the effort.

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