Since moving to my new neighborhood, I’ve been looking for a gym nearby that has the simplicity and amenities I’m looking for. Not too many frills—just easy parking and a clean and friendly environment would do. And although I recently found such a place that’s really perfect for me, I’m sitting here in gym purgatory awaiting my next move. What gives?
My parents always taught me to save money “for a rainy day.” But the real life cautionary tales for being financially prudent were all around me. I had friends in my neighborhood whose parents leased all their expensive cars, didn’t have furniture in their homes, lived off of credit, and didn’t have any money to send their kids to college when the time came. That was not us. That was not going to be me.
I remember the first time I learned the meaning of the word “budget.” I was grade-school age, and I remember playing handball against the garage with my sister. I remember standing in the driveway when our mother came home from the grocery store that afternoon. Whenever she went food shopping, Mom usually asked us for special items we wanted, and then she brought them home. Not today.
“Where are the artichoke hearts?” I inquired. Silence. I was a child who loved her vegetables, especially exotic and pickled ones in jars. (I could eat an entire jar in one sitting.) No, there were no artichoke hearts for me that afternoon. I was told we were on a “budget,” which loosely translated meant I couldn’t have everything I wanted all at once. Thus, no artichoke hearts. Only on special occasions.
Flash forward about fifteen years and here I am. This new gym costs about twice as much as my gym in the old neighborhood, which peeves me. No matter that the old gym was huge, inconvenient, crowded, and now, far away. I have grown into a penny-pinching twenty-something and I almost never forget it.
Let me tell you: it’s tough starting out in your twenties with an entry-level career, with bills to pay, and expenses to balance, with no real financial safety net to speak of. Each month we can hide away a tiny portion until, someday, in what seems like the very distant future, the veritable vanishing point of the perspective drawing, we might have financial security. If we don’t screw it up before then.
As I ponder the pros and cons of my potential gym membership, I think I’ll go downstairs and get a dish of a few artichoke hearts from the fridge. Now I buy them in bulk, in a giant jar, from Smart & Final, and dole them out to myself slowly. Hey, in this financial jungle, a girl’s gotta comfort herself somehow.