Once again, I realized that I was broke. It’s a state of mind that comes and goes, depending on how panicked I am about if I have enough money saved up. I definitely didn’t live in a broke mindset for the summer, when I unfortunately got a bit too excited about enjoying life. I took out a student loan that I try not to touch unless it’s an emergency, so I am not broke.

What if my computer breaks? What if my camera breaks? What if I need a new anything? The loan is for that. But the savings I had on top ot that, as of today, hit zero. So therefore, I am broke.

I have two separate thoughts on the matter.

One is that if I’m honest I wasn’t trying to save money that much. First of all, I was a student, living on the bare minimum, and I did deserve a treat every once in a while. It’s not my fault that the ecomonical state of the world is crumbling, prices are through the roof, and I happen to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world. It does however still make me a bit nauseous that so much money disappeared somehow.

There is a trend circling the social medias nowadays, which is called girl math. It’s more a meme than a trend but I don’t know if the fact that it’s relatable makes this better or worse. Girl math means the creative justification of any spending. I am a master of girl math.

This year was a year of investments for me. I am very conscious about what I spend money on, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t spend a lot of money. I am just very good at picking the right things to spend it on, and the process includes days of analyzing every angle and exploring all the possibilities before swiping my credit card. This sometimes does send me to the edge of insanity, but at least saves me a lot of regrets. I hate regrets. This will be clear from my lifestyle.

Evidently, I ended up with a lot of good investments: a comfortable huge double duvet for my double bed; the coolest bedside lamp (on my budget level); a new small analog camera that I have already used to take amazing photos with; good skincare items; an electric toothbrush (I collected some compliments from my dentist); and the latest, a pair of patent mary jane shoes that I’m in love with. I also look at food and eating out every once in a while as an investment. In a city where the cuisine tastes and looks like it was sent from the heavens, one simply cannot waste time not indulging in them. I would rather go broke but still have the luxury of eating Danish pastries.

I will also consider any creative outlet as good investment. For the past year this meant spending money on painting equipment, rolls of film and their development, T-shirt printing, and Adobe subscription. This last one does give me heart palpilations, and kinda makes me feel the same way as airlines. Both suck an incredible amount of money out of you for basic neccessities. Sorry if I wanna go see my family every once in a while. And also for wanting to edit the photos I took.

The other tought I had on the matter of being broke: I’m relieved.
If I’m broke I don’t have to make decisions about what to do with my money, because I have no money. I don’t have to feel bad for not investing, or not travelling, or not saving it up, or any of the million things you can do with your money.

I have a wishlist that keeps me in a chokehold because I always have new ideas what to wish for, and then it puts me under pressure because I have to follow that up with actions. I wish for a cool vintage leather jacket, so I have to keep an eye out for one. I also wish for a new bike lock, because the current one is old and stupid and drips wet red stains on my shoes when it’s raining. The list continues with a new everyday shoe, a new Doc Martens, a winter coat, new tattoos, and so on. Every time I enter a shopping mall, I come up with ten new ideas for what I actually desperately need in my life. I don’t realize how desperately I need them unless I enter the mall, so I avoid doing that as much as possible.

The point is, all items on my wishlist are heavily justified, and at this point there is no reason not to spend money on them, which makes me anxious, and evokes cancerous thoughts like I’ll only be happy once I obtain all of them. The problem is of course, that the list never ends and never going to end. Sometimes, when I consider myself broke, I delete some of it, but as soon as I don’t feel broke anymore, I add them back.

The chokehold is released suddenly. I have no money to spend on any of them. There is no question about what to spend on because there is nothing to spend. And then I realized, I never actually needed any of them. At least not desperately. At least not right now.

My relief about the wishlist made me realize that this chokehold is never going to change, because as long as there is money to spend, I will be anxious about what to do with it. And when I have a lot of money, the wishlist is gonna have more and bigger items to keep me in a chokehold. Coloring my hair every month. Doing my nails. Massages. Taking the taxi. Buying the designer bag. Expensive restaurants to try. Expensive hobbies to pick up. Spending a month in Tokyo. A house perhaps. A holiday house even.

I don’t even consider any of these items right now, because they are so out of my budget. But once you level up, there is a whole new world of items unlocked. And once you level down, as I have now, some items become unavailable, and you feel a huge relief for not having to think about them.

The phenomenon was studied even, why richer people are not neccessarily happier. Money has a hold on you and the bigger the money, the bigger the hold. The more options we have, the less likely we are to choose anything, because the risk of regret is higher. So often I feel like I can do anything, that it makes me do nothing. Even my freedom in unemployment is like that. Maybe we are just longing for fewer responsibilities.

All I ever wanted to be is a grown up, with all the freedom of the grown up. I didn’t know how hard it would be when you have no one else to blame but yourself. We prefer situations where the responsibility of choice is not on us. We don’t know this, only subconsciously. Because we expect online stores to have thousands of brands with thousands of clothes and all available in our size, and streaming services with thousands of movies and tv shows, and music platforms with all of the songs ever made. But then whatever clothes we buy, we feel bad for the ones we didn’t buy, and we can’t watch one thing because we miss out on all the others, and I’m never happier to hear a song than when it comes on the radio, where it wasn’t my choice, and when someone tells me what movie to see, and when the store doesn’t have most shoes in my size.

Weirdly enough, I am actually fine without having the items from my wishlist. I have enough clothes and got food on my table. My coffee is good enough, the cheap beer is good enough, all I have is actually, GOOD ENOUGH.

Having money makes you question if they are though. Looking at what others have and what others are doing makes you question. And if you are in the financial situation, you’ll start getting the stuff others have and doing the stuff others are doing, because you are not sure if you’re missing out.

Similarly, nothing makes you that happy if you feel like you have to get it. I remember, one of my happiest spendings was getting non-instant coffee and ingredients for making brioche after waiting two months to get paid. It felt so good because I was finally comfortable with spending money on them.

And I spent a lot of money on a lot of things since, that I didn’t feel comfortable about. I questioned if I should, if I really needed it. Of course, as I just concluded, we rarely ever really need anything, so I ended up convincing myself that I could spend the money even if I didn’t need the thing. It almost never made me comfortable though and therefore, never as happy.

I feel like there is a solution here somewhere. I feel I would be happier if I was always broke, having money only for emergencies. What if I remembered that all I have is good enough? Is it realistic that I’ll remember that? I could try. Only replacing something once it’s broken and dead and finished completely. Not upgrading just for the sake of the upgrade. Not spending more just because I have more. The happiest people probably have a broke mindset.