Hello friends and family! So, for the month of April my task as part of the Dream Life Challenge was to stick to my budget and write down every payment made. I’d call this a 50-50 pass/fail month. I stuck to my budget, but I was not great about writing down every expense when it happened. The biggest expense this month was from an unexpected necessity: I needed a new mattress.
The apartment I am currently renting came furnished, but some of the furniture was not really usable, as I found out when I went to sit on the sofa and my ass hit the floor. I knew that the mattress that came with my room would not be amazing, but I figured I could use the floor mat I have for guests as a mattress topper of sorts.
Boy was I wrong.
It didn’t take long for my back to begin protesting the state of my mattress loudly and constantly. Finally, after researching, I came to the conclusion that a proper mattress topper would not serve me as well, or as long, as a new mattress. So, I grit my teeth, and set about buying a proper mattress.
But, Alex, I thought you had a budget! Didn’t you say you stuck to it all month? How could you possibly stick to your budget and buy a brand-new mattress? Did you really account for such a large, unexpected expense?
Ah, rhetorical-questions-that-serve-to-further-this-blog-post, what an excellent point. No, I did not break my budget for a new mattress. I did something that caused a panic attack, but what I knew was the right thing: I put the mattress on my credit card.
Now, I’m lucky enough to A.) have credit good enough to have a credit card, B.) have a stable income to be able to slowly but surely pay off said credit card, and C.) have family members kind enough to chip in and help reduce the overall payment of this last purchase. I know that is not the case for everyone and I count my blessings every day.
But this brings me to the real point of this post: regardless of my choices, I would be paying interest. One way, or another.
The decision I made means that my interest is being charged to my credit card. My other option was to put up with a shitty mattress. Would that have been cheaper in the short-term? Yes. Would it have been cheaper in the long-term? No.
Buy a mattress on credit, pay interest to the bank. Stay with the old mattress, pay interest to the doctors you have to see to help your back pain.
Being poor charges interest. If you can’t afford something, a lot of the time you just have to make do until you’re in a financial place to support yourself properly. Can’t afford to have a cavity filled now? Pay for a root canal later. Can’t afford a really good pair of shoes? Pay for a dozen shoes a year as the cheap shoes break.
I recognize that I am very fortunate and not at all the worst-case-scenario. I can afford to put food on my table, I can afford to put clothes on my body and a roof over my head. Hell, if I budget right, sometimes I can afford to go out and do something fun! I know that not everyone is as fortunate, and I cannot tell you how upset this makes me.
Recently the internet was abuzz with talk about Elon Musk, who recently purchased Twitter for 40 billion U.S. Dollars. Let that sink in. 40 billion U.S. Dollars. That is an insane amount of money. To most people, it’s difficult to understand the massive difference between a million and a billion. Let me break it down for you a little bit: 1 million seconds adds up to just under 12 days. 1 billion seconds adds up to 31 years. So, if Elon Musk took that 40 billion dollars, spent 1 dollar every second, it would still take 1,240 years to get rid of it all.
What could 40 billion dollars buy, instead of a social media site? With 40 billion dollars you could:
End world hunger
Put a sizable dent into the 1.7 trillion dollars of student debt in the United States
End homelessness in the United States, two times over
Halt current climate change and begin reversing the greenhouse effect
End the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
But what did he do instead? He bought Twitter.
Now, I could rant about the 1% until my face turned blue and I was hospitalized for high blood pressure, but what does this have to do with me? Very little, and yet, a whole damn lot.
You don’t get to be a billionaire without sacrificing ethics. You step on other people, profit off others’ labor, and hurt many, many people. And yet, according to Forbes last year, the world has over 2,000 billionaires.
Though I deal with financial stress every day, I am not in a desperate situation. There are many who have it worse. The fact that people exist who have 40 billion dollars to spend on a social networking site, while others starve because they cannot afford to buy food, speaks volumes to our society.
And this whole thought process was brought on by having to purchase a new mattress.