Yesterday I had to buy Tylenol at CVS and it was six dollars. I wanted to punch myself in the face. Partly because I was mad that Tylenol cost six dollars, but mostly because I was distressed over six dollars. But that’s how things are when you’re broke. You question every purchase. You worry about every little penny. You feel like you’re never going to catch up. You wonder how people can spend money on things like eyebrow waxes and yoga memberships, when you’re just trying to figure out how many bananas you can buy at Trader Joe’s for under a dollar. (The answer is four.)
Having no money is tough. It’s a challenge. It can be mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting. But it’s also an extremely important experience to go through. Having little to no money changes you, often in the best way possible. It opens your eyes to new ideas and new experiences you wouldn’t have had other wise. When you aren’t distracted with wealth, your life can become a lot more satisfying than you ever expected. And here’s why.
You want less because you have less.
It’s common knowledge that the more things you acquire in life, the less satisfied you’re going to be. Buying a new pair of shoes is really fun and exciting in the moment, but the high always wears off. And then you’re left wanting another pair of shoes. And another. Suddenly you are spending $100 a month on Kim Kardashian’s ShoeDazzle website, wondering why you purchased a pair of high-heeled cheetah-print boots. No matter what material items you’re spending your money on, you’re never going to be satisfied. And that’s why sometimes it’s freeing to have no money. You start buying less and you start wanting less. You’re happier with what you have, and when you occasionally do treatyoself, you savor every moment of the experience.
You appreciate stuff that has no monetary value.
When you have an unlimited budget, sometimes it’s hard to remember to stop and appreciate the little things around you. If you’re constantly dropping money on plane tickets and concerts and shopping excursions and new cars, it can be easy to forget about all the everyday things you love, like the crisp smell of autumn or the amazing feeling of not having to set an alarm for the next day. There really are plenty of things that money can’t buy, like a cozy Friday night in with your friend or a long weekend with your family. These things are a wonderful reminder that you can still feel extremely happy from the simplest things in life.
You learn to entertain yourself with more inexpensive hobbies.
Going to the movies these days costs approximately $168, because if you’re like me, you’re not happy with just the $15 ticket you purchase. You also have to buy a barrel of popcorn that could double as a bathtub for a newborn baby, along with a giant ICEE. Then you see Twizzlers and remember how fun it is to bite off either end of a Twizzler and drink out of it like a straw, so naturally so snatch up some of those bad boys as well. By the end of the experience you are in debt, and you’re wondering how many more movies they could possibly make about teenagers in a post-apocalyptic world. You might feel like you have to do things like this all the time in order to stay entertained, but that’s not the case. Going out to the movies and going to bars can be fun, but it’s just as exciting to have a Netflix marathon with a friend or to get a membership at the local library. Sometimes, out of sheer laziness, it’s just easier to entertain ourselves by paying for it, but if you look hard enough, there are plenty of ways to have fun without breaking the bank.
You learn that all wine tastes the same.
When you’re older and you have money, then sure, go to a wine tasting and experience what a world-class Merlot tastes like. Until then, buy the $7 bottle at CVS. It all tastes the same as long as it’s making everyone around you more entertaining and good-looking. Trust me. I took a wine tasting class in college, and the only thing I learned was how to not sound like a douchebag when describing wine: No professor, this wine does not taste like “a fresh summer rainfall.” It tastes red. Bye.
You appreciate money when you do have it.
When you finally get to a place where you have a little bit of money again, the pleasure is not lost on you. Being able to treat yourself to a nice meal or a much-needed winter scarf is a great thing in and of itself, but you enjoy it a hell of a lot more if it’s something you were unable to afford in the past. Having money is great, but sometimes, it’s the experiences you had before you had money that are the most important.