[For those of you who aren’t hip-hop heads/in the know, it stands for Cash Rules Everything Around Me.]
T and I were talking last week about how savings accounts are basically useless at this junction of our lives, because all the money we make we spend. She earns her money and spends it all on important necessary-to-sustain-life things like food and rent and gas and tuition. I…have been spoiled recently and given far more money than I need, so I have gotten accustomed to treating myself to life’s small luxuries. I should have been saving. I should have known that the good life is fleeting.
Ohhhh the never-ending struggle between my bank account and those costly things in my life that fall somewhere between a want and a need. Actually, this line isn’t that hard to draw. A new laptop is a need. A twenty dollar pair of earrings is a want. An eating club membership is a…[grey area].
We had a similar conversation last year, when I was being consumed with guilt about not using my financial blessings to help my struggling mother and was instead paying 8k a year to be a ‘Drangler. But this is different. This is me shooting myself in the foot by spoiling myself with new clothes and an awesome hair accessory collection and handcrafted one-of-a-kind jewelry. This is me expecting to keep getting more than what I need handed to me in spite of the fact that our country is a gazillion dollars in debt and people everywhere are losing their jobs and their pensions and their aid. This is me being a spoiled little bitch. (It’s crazy how fast you can get used to something. I grew up so used to going without; when Princeton started throwing money at me, I couldn’t resist the urge to have have have.)
The Financial Aid Office basically figured out I was two-timing them by getting lots of extra money from them and lots of extra money from my Mellon Mays Fellowship, and has now basically set it up so the money I get from my fellowship replaces a large part of the money they would have given me for Board. [I’m not sure Mellon would stand for that, but I haven’t always been honest on certain forms about the money I get from them so I’m not going to start any fights.] This is understandable and I can’t really be mad at them for it. I’m still getting a nice chunk of change for absolutely nothing and I don’t pay a dime to go to the second-best institution in the country. I have nothing but gratitude.
And see, I’ve been cheating the system a little more by not even using all that extra money I was getting for the right purposes. You see, Princeton has this need-hate relationship with the eating clubs, and part of that is they say that the University will not fully fund an eating club membership. Well, between the extra money FinAid gave me, and my money from Mellon, I paid for my Quad membership last year with lots left over to spend however I wanted.
Those days are over. My family evidently owed the school about $600, so that was detracted from my aid for this year, leaving me with a combined total credit from the FinAid office and Mellon Mays of $148 less than the cost of my eating club for a semester, ignoring the fact that I need to buy books and, you know, live, which costs money. [Even if I totally cut out all the spoils, I will need pads and deodorant and conditioner and highlighters.] And when I first realized this I was FREAKING THE FUCK OUT. Even if I’m kind of scared it will be weird being around you-know-who, Quad is my LIFE (to the chagrin of my pre-Quad friends) and I was not prepared in any kind of way to lose it.
But then I remembered that I didn’t always used to be this spoiled bitch who is used to getting things handed to her. I used to be accustomed to hard work and struggle for even life’s basic necessities. I remember that paycheck-to-paycheck hand-to-mouth existence. I can hone in on those strategies again. If I cease and desist all frivolous purchases now, I can end the summer with about $500-600 after buying my new computer. More if I can get MS Office on ebay or somewhere instead of paying lots for it from Best Buy. And I emailed my supervisor about keeping my boring library job during the school year. And I will resume my ritual of regularly pimping my brain out to the Psychology department for experiments if I need to. And maybe I’ll actually sell some of my old dresses on ebay like I’ve been saying I should for a while. So I guess I’ll get on the monthly payment plan, and whatever it takes to make ends meet, I will do it: A) Because under all this frivolousness, that’s who I am. B) Because some things are worth struggle and hardship. Life isn’t always going to be easy. C) Because I am resilient and I don’t let shit get in my way. Not even money.