I made what, from an objective, mathematically-based perspective, was a bad financial decision last week. And it was the best thing I could’ve done.
Work work work
As some of you know, I do various amounts of overtime each month. Each month I do at least two days’ of overtime, sometimes more, so that the other gal (who works nights/weekends) can actually have some days off.
While I know it’s important, this unfortunately means that once a month I work at least 12 days straight. And while my job is far from technically hard, 12 days without a break from dealing with customers is… a lot.
This month, I asked my coworker if we could switch my usual weekend so that I could attend a friend’s birthday party. She said sure and that she’d check her schedule and get back to me about which weekend she wanted me to cover.
I didn’t hear back, so I messaged a few days before the last weekend of the month (aka Memorial Day weekend) to verify that I should cover it. She replied that she’d actually need two weekends in July off. So while I was welcome to cover the impending weekend, she could work it and we could consider the second weekend in July to be a makeup shift.
I was deeply torn.
Pros and cons
If I let her work that weekend, my check would be notably lighter. About 14% less than it would normally be.
Yes, logically I knew I’d get the money in three and a half months (mid-August when my check for July came in). But it felt like I was losing the money.
And in my defense, as we learned in math class, money now is worth more than money later. For all we know, the market may have recovered a bit by mid-August. And one of the reasons we shouldn’t worry about this bear market is that our contributions are actually buying more shares of index funds than they used to. So I could experience an opportunity cost.
I felt very, very weary.
COVID cases are rising — though I’m not even sure how much, since AZDHS switched to weekly reporting, meaning when I check the data it’s usually 10 to 14 days old. Sigh.
There’s the anxiety about the Roe v. Wade opinion draft. I’m concerned about Americans in general as they deal with acute inflations and rising gas prices. And watching retirement account balance drop.* And lately I’ve been repeatedly reminded of just how out of touch many people giving money advice are.**
So I felt very worn out — mentally and emotionally.
* Even if you know it’ll be okay, it’s still hard to watch.
** One guy on Twitter said he felt it was “safe to say” that most Americans could cover an unexpected $1,000 expense. Another guy chimed in that if they can’t, they’ve just made bad choices. And my back and forth with the second fellow ended with him confirming that, yes, he was saying anyone who isn’t a multi-millionaire (they comprise 6.25% of the country) had simply made bad choices.
But wait, there’s more
Then the Uvalde school shooting happened.
I was off social media that day and don’t watch the news, but I saw some coverage the following day at the gym. I started tearing up and was briefly concerned I was going to start full-on crying on an elliptical machine.
The day after that, I saw a Twitter thread where She Picks Up Pennies said she would quit if forced to carry a gun, and Moriah Chace said she couldn’t bring herself to shoot a kid (even an 18 year-old-one). Someone replied that if any teacher can’t shoot someone, they should quit immediately.
And the day after that, someone was blaming the dead teacher for not locking the classroom. Which is crappy — but made worse by the fact that he didn’t waver even after I showed him articles saying that teachers and students may not even have heard the alarm.
And on a smaller scale
Far more trivial in the grand scheme of things, I’m also burned out by almost every date I made in the last four to five week falling through. The only three exceptions were dates set up just a few hours (or less) beforehand.
Otherwise, just about every guy I’ve talked to has ghosted or otherwise flaked out. Which might would be less disheartening, but I was also stinging from the fact that I met two guys in January I really liked. And who really liked me. But we weren’t ultimately compatible.
So the past five months have been a rollercoaster of “Hey, he seems great, and we really liked each oth– Oh, nope, that’s not going to work.” plus “Well, this guy I’ve been chatting with a bunch seems interested and like he’ll actually follow-through. Maybe my bad luck is ov– Oh, no, never mind, he’s no longer opening my messages.”
Due to this track record, I’ve been trying to quash any sense of optimism for any guy who seems to have potential but a) that’s almost impossible to do completely and b) it’s a very depressing way to live.
Meanwhile, my friend’s partner was throwing a pirate-themed house/pool party. And his parties are always a ton of fun. The poly community, which they belong to, is full of friend, welcoming people who are just great to party with. And food/beverages are always in abundance. (Don’t worry, I was among the people contributed via Venmo once at the party.)
The festivities would begin at 2 p.m., but if I worked, I wouldn’t get there until 7:30 p.m. Still a goodly chunk of time to be there, but by then it’d be very crowded (it’s vaccinated folks only, thankfully) and overwhelming. Also: more party time is good.
I couldn’t explain why, exactly, but my intuition was telling me that I really should go. And that it would good for me — far better than (objectively) a party should be. I had a sense that it would greatly help refill my “just can even”-ometer.
And since covering my coworker in July will mean a 19-day run working, it seemed like a good idea to be a bit more recharged.
Anxiety sets in
But the thought of a month with that much smaller a check filled me with dread and even low-level panic. I tried to tell myself that I’ll still more than be able to pay all my bills. And that I wasn’t losing the money forever.
Still, it hurt to think about what my saving rates were going to be in my June post. Which is an utterly ridiculous thing to focus on. Especially since, again, I know I’ll get the money before long.
Nevertheless, the thought stressed me out horribly. Maybe because I was so burned out/emotionally threadbare.
I couldn’t handle it, and I told my coworker that I’d still cover the impending weekend.
Less than 24 hours after I texted that, yet another guy — one I’ve been talking to intermittently for about a month because he’s been out of town — went silent. Just as he was back in town. (Yes, it may have been someone messing with me. I don’t know. I don’t particularly care.)
And a day of booze and barbecue and a pool to dip in… Well, it no longer felt optional.
Thankfully, my coworker hadn’t made other plans yet and said she’d still take the weekend.
Other than the fact that I had two days to cobble together a pirate-type outfit, I felt like (no exaggeration) all of my stress melted away just knowing that I’d be whooping it up, not working, in a couple of days.
I’m writing this the Monday after the shindig, and I am so incredibly glad I didn’t listen to my knee-jerk, fear-based response. The party was fabulous and was exactly what I needed. While life isn’t now magically perfect, I do feel remarkably restored.
Honestly, even if it had meant losing the money permanently, I’m not sure it would’ve been a bad call. Granted, it would’ve been a very expensive party, but I’m fortunate to have a good financial cushion. So it wouldn’t have broken my finances.
And, really — assuming you’re financially comfortable — what good is money if you feel like you’re blindly, wearily stumbling through your days?
So yeah that was my good, bad-financial call. No regrets.
At this point in history, most of us are beyond worn out. While we can’t magically make things go back to a less-wearying time, if you are fortunate enough to have the option to take time off work, I highly recommend it. Even a brief reprieve — a road trip or a couple days at a local hotel — can be remarkably restorative.
Has anyone else made an objectively bad but subjectively good financial decision lately?