By Adriana Fallico
Before 2024 began, I was thinking about planning some resolutions for the new year, like learning a new language, sleeping a full eight hours or embracing my inner couch potato guilt-free. Above all, at the top of my list was to cut back on my spending.
It’s a pretty reasonable aspiration, isn’t it? After all, the cost of basically everything is soaring nowadays. I can’t even buy a croissant without spending an arm and a leg. Somehow, I always end up getting one anyway.
Because I feel the need to reward myself whenever I can, I really don’t consider the financial impact it’ll have on me later. I can’t lie, there’s been a few times where I’ve checked my bank account and was startled by the sheer number of transactions. And yes, I just paid $15 to get downtown. But I paid for that with my Presto card so I haven’t spent any real money today.
It was when I started commuting again after the break and couldn’t resist the urge to buy a breakfast sandwich that I had to come to terms with myself: I have to stop treating myself every day. But it’s the tiny temptations that make me realize that this resolution is not the walk in the park I thought it would be.
For example, I really felt like I earned myself a tasty treat after actually attending my first class of the semester…at 8 a.m. It was a content-heavy first day, meaning the professor spent two hours explaining the course syllabus. Granted, I slept through the entire class but I still believe I deserve a round of applause for even going. Although, I’d rather order a matcha latte with expedited delivery, so I treated myself to that right afterwards.
Yes, placing that order felt amazing at the time—and taking that first sip felt even better—but everything changed when I glanced at the receipt. The latte was already expensive but the delivery fee really made my jaw drop. I wiped a tear off the receipt and quickly threw it away before I could dwell too much on my mistake.
Going downtown for classes is the easiest way to expose yourself to expensive and unnecessary purchases. Whenever I do anything remotely difficult or check a task off my to-do list, I can’t help but feel I deserve a little reward. After all, I am the best student. However, I do know I need to resist the urge to get my hands on multiple treats a day because soon I won’t have the means to support having any at all.
What concerns me is that I’m well aware of my needless purchases, I just can’t stop making them. But it’s not like I’m making huge transactions everyday. It’s all the stupid little acquisitions that pile up, like an eight-dollar coffee here, a $12 snack there or a custom cardboard cutout of Frankie the Falcon (it’s a long story).
I know that it can’t be just me. Who hasn’t found themselves wanting a little something after a long, laborious day of lectures or studying? It’s the perfect reassurance that I successfully survived another school day and even though my life is stressful enough, a little hot chocolate is sure to cure all of my sorrows.
On a more serious note, I feel like it’s only natural to automatically want something to celebrate an accomplishment, like getting through a long day of classes or braving a treacherous commute. It’s something to look forward to while validating the work you’ve done and the effort you put into it. For example, how satisfying is it to submit a huge assignment and immediately sprint to the Eaton Centre to splurge on a $45 Sephora lip balm? It’s a freeing escape.
It’s when this “escape” leads to scrambling to make ends meet that I begin to question how my brain works. Don’t get me wrong, I love my treats as much as the next person, but money does not grow on trees. I can accept that going to my first class of the semester may be an accomplishment for me but it unfortunately does not warrant a $12 latte delivery—not including the tip.
Here are some questions I’ve devised to keep myself accountable whenever the daily urge hits me. Do I need to buy lunch when I brought leftovers from last night? No. Do I need a latte when my homemade one does the trick? Only if someone else pays for it. Do I need a hot chocolate after a long day of classes? Maybe, but not when my only class of the day is a one-hour tutorial. I may deserve these things but it doesn’t mean I can always afford them.
So on those days where you feel like handing your money over to every store you see, remind yourself that your actions have consequences, otherwise known as financial burden. Whoever said adulting is fun was a liar.
But I’m not going to lie…I already placed my Uber Eats order as a reward for finishing this article, so I guess I’m back to square one.