Besides sleeping for about 18 of 24 hours on Sunday, I also happened to rent ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’. (Ironically, the fact I did a Redbox rental among a few other things triggered a fraud alert phone call from my credit card company. They are right; I never go out to lunch or rent movies!)
This movie had some great moments, and I appreciated how it addressed an attitude a lot of people have towards spending.
As someone who grew up solidly middle class, I differ from Rebecca (the main character), who grew up wanting things other people had. As a kid, I learned that stuff didn’t make you happy. I knew because I had the stuff that was supposed to, and I was just as happy as most anyone else I knew.
They couldn’t have timed a better release time for this movie about someone who goes from spending money like crazy to realizing she needs to save money. A few basics gleaned in between cute-borderline-repulsive overpriced outfits and some ridiculously obvious sexual tension:
Avoid shopping. I was emailing a friend this weekend and he was talking about going to the mall. Our conversation made me realize I can’t remember the last time I went to a mall, or shopped recreationally for that matter. I don’t tempt myself to spend money so I avoid shopping unless absolutely necessary.
Watch out with the credit cards. The childhood Rebecca sees women using ‘magic cards’ buying things they want without even having to use money. What a great idea, right? As an adult, you get all kinds of letdowns: eating ice cream for breakfast every day will make you fat and that using credit cards to buy things you don’t have will cost you way too much money.
For example, if I make the minimum payments for $1,000 charge on a credit card with 20% interest rate (and only make the minimum $15 payment), it’ll take me 8 years and $1,861 to pay it off. If you want to play with a calculator like this, here’s one.
Learn about finances for yourself. In the movie, Rebecca starts writing for a money magazine, after which she learns how to get control of her own finances. Actually doing what she needs to is much harder and takes much longer (of course) but as someone famous once said “Knowing is half the battle!”
Yes thinking about money is kind of boring but let me remind you that so are parts of your job, certain social events, and other obligations in life. But unlike going to your fifth cousin’s bridal shower, taking control of your own money can actually give you some extra power over your own life. It’s a good kind of selfish!
And if you want a fun romantic comedy comme commentary on American society in relation to money, check out Shopaholic. It was moderately inspirational and the perfect thing to see in between naps this weekend.