At university, money was always a problem. I was always flat out broke and in order to sustain myself, I had to work, a lot. Bars, shops, coffee houses –anywhere to get some extra cash. At the beginning and end of each month, I remember scrawling manic calculations on the back of notebooks and lecture papers, trying to figure out how I was going to pay my rent or phone bill (if you listen very carefully, you can hear the distant cry of the violins).
Sure, I make it sound a lot worse than it was, but what I’m trying to say is that I got used to skimping on everything. I’d always buy the cheapest thing in the supermarket over the brand I liked. I’d never get the shampoo I wanted, instead opting for the nasty stuff that makes your hair like straw. New clothes were out of the question, so charity shops (thrift stores) became my sanctuary. Being a student, I always bought the cheapest booze available and unsurprisingly, this led to some pretty horrific hangovers.
After graduation, I got a good job and moved in with my boyfriend. I officially became a DINK. However, this student mentality was still very much engrained. The word “new” wasn’t even in my vernacular so instead, a lot of our furniture was handed down from family members – even our television was a broken cast off that we managed to fix up.
This was fine for a while, but as both of us started earning more; it seemed only natural to want to replace some of the crappier furniture with stuff that would last and, more importantly, to address a potential integration of our finances.
Well, for my boyfriend at least. He’s a little older than me and further up the grand path of adulthood. He wants to start buying nice things. A good TV. A comfortable sofa. A car. The possessions that make working hard seem worthwhile. He also wants to talk about important financial decisions like house insurance, life insurance, car insurance, pet insurance. Protections against the unpredictable nature of life.
I, on the other hand, have yet to overcome my fear of spending money – something I hadn’t anticipated. That’s not to say that I’ve got hoards of it saved up – quite the opposite. I’m just so used to being in debt that buying a new anything seems out of the realms of possibility. Insuring it? Out of the question. Although the cost will effectively be halved between my partner and myself, I still carrying this weight around that tells me I shouldn’t buy anything unless it’s absolutely essential.
“It’s common for recent graduates to have a strained relationship with money,” writes Gerry Bucke of Adrian Flux Insurance Services. “After so many years counting the pennies, financial commitments can be difficult.”
It is, and the transition has caused a tension of sorts. For me, it’s a psychological tension between my student mind set and my adult one – the need to reconfigure my spending habits now that I’m earning money. For my boyfriend, it’s a tension between his financial position and my own. I’m still playing catch up, still paying back debt, still in the red. He’s ready to take the next steps into adulthood and gain a little more independence.
“If you’re finding the transition challenging,” Gerry continues, “you need to try and think about it in a different way. Rather than putting you out of pocket, spending money on insurance gives you financial security.”
I think it all comes down to that terrifying concept called growing up. When you’re a student, you think you’re infallible. Things like insurance aren’t even a consideration because there’s always something more important to spend your money on. So you don’t get covered and you live in hope that nothing goes wrong.
Now, my boyfriend and I are slowly working through all of the things we’d like to improve in our life – it’s like levelling up in a videogame. But to truly complete the level known as “DINK,”I need to accept that if I want to nice things, they’re going to cost money and that insurance is a security, not a frivolity.
Photo by Philip Taylor PT