Thursday night I went to a frat house. A place you'd assume I'd be more familiar with considering I'm a senior at a university with one of the largest greek systems in the country. But, for various reasons (admittedly some of them valid, some based on assumption), I'm not. But Thursday I learned my lesson about judging a book by its cover, or even its table of contents. So Thursday after a very good program***, I stepped COMPLETELY out of my box and and acted on an invitation to go to the frat house... and found the most unlikely ally...
See, I'm a shopaholic. And in case you think I mean that in a "I love money and shopping and it's cute" way, I don't. There's actually nothing cute about it (except for maybe the stuff I buy). Overspending has become my little dirty secret and my big, problematic habit. And after discovering that I wasn't alone in this (from the most unlikely person) I immediately began to think about how I got to this point in my life. Now I am in no way an expert and I'm almost sure that stuff like this is different for everybody, but here are 3 factors that I have come to terms with and observe in others too...
1. Spending gives me a sense of control. Think about it. Once you have it, your money is yours. You spend it at your leisure on the things that you want to spend it on. Even if you have bills, there is no one "forcing" you to pay them (please be advised that it IS NOT a good idea to not pay your bills if you want decent credit). But there is definitely a feeling of power and control behind spending money that's yours, especially with big purchases.
2. I, too, am a sucker for the Jones (and no, I'm not talking about my light skinned friend). Like most people of color, my senses have been bombarded by images of indulgence and materialism at their best, or should I say worst. Either way, I'm a sucker for a Coach bag, a nice weave, and trips out of town like many other people. I just can't afford it!!!!!!!!!!!
3. Growing up, I was never "taught" anything about money except in the context of number 1. of this list. How many of you have ever asked a parent as a child why they took your phone or Play Station away only to be answered with a harsh "BECAUSE I PAID FOR IT!"??? I know I got that alot. What did that teach me about money? That in order to have any control over my own life I had to have some! No one ever sat me down and had a talk with me about savings, investments, etc. So now the spending habits I developed as a child have followed me into adulthood.
... So here I am, a broke college student, struggling to pay bills, and spending like there's no tomorrow. But they say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. I hope that other people can take this step as well and maybe we can all come together and get through this!
***The program I attended was about gender roles in the Black community, a subject I'm very invested in as a gender studies major/African American studies minor. I was going to post something about it but I found everything I wanted to say in a post on one of my friend's blogs. The post is called "Worth: Who Decides?". Check it out!