After many years as a single gal, my best friend A has met the man of her dreams. He’s smart, funny, attractive, intellectual, well-traveled…basically everything she’s been waiting for all this time, and he seems equally smitten with her. As you can imagine, she’s over the moon about this recent turn of events in her love life, and I’m so thrilled for her. If anyone deserves eternal happiness, it’s her. Unfortunately, there’s just one hiccup in their happily ever after: he’s British. Yep, British. As in, Big Ben is his neighbor.
The problem isn’t so much the 3,000 miles of ocean between them – not that it’s easy to be in a long-distance relationship, but A can usually make anything work if she sets her sights on something (or someone). The problem is that she’s broke. Really, really broke. As in, her student loan debt total is about three times her annual salary, she’s several thousand in credit card debt, and she has no savings. She makes very little money at her “real” job and has been trying without success to find a second job since she moved to a new place. You can imagine the damper that this is putting on her new relationship, as well as her thoughts about their future together. Traveling is really expensive, and she really has no extra money to do it. It’s especially crummy right now, because they’re at that exciting, getting-to-know-you, hate-being-away-from-you-for-a-second stage, and she can’t enjoy it because now she’s stressing about how they’ll ever make this work. She’s known for a while that her financial situation is bad, but now it actually matters that she’s living paycheck to paycheck – and she’s realized that this type of living has left her really trapped and stuck and frustrated when she’s supposed to be basking in the glow of new love.
In the PF world, we talk a lot about saving because when something bad happens we’ll be glad we saved the money. I totally follow this line of reasoning because, truth be told, I’m pretty pessimistic and assume that something bad will happen some day. But there are a lot of people out there who don’t buy into that idea, and are convinced that nothing that bad could possibly happen to them. Fine, but what if something good happens? Life costs money, and happy life changes can be just as expensive as bad ones.
Another example: a friend I work with thought it would take at least a year to get pregnant, so she and her husband started trying early. Well, she got pregnant on the first try, and now they’re scrambling because they thought they’d have at least a year to get their finances in order. Or you could suddenly get engaged or get a great new job offer and have to relocate – all of these happy, wonderful events cost money. It may be unromantic or unsentimental, but believing that saving is bologna because “nothing bad will happen” misses the point. What the future holds is unknown, and whether it’s good or bad, it will be expensive. So start improving your financial situation today, that way you can really enjoy (or deal with) what happens tomorrow instead of stressing about money.