Long hours, reckless spending, and the inability to say ‘no’

Moderation has never been my strong suit.

Maybe it’s an evolutionary holdover, a psychological shortcoming or the fact that I have the will power of a morally decrepit investment banker — I’ve never once been accused of saving things for later. My dorm is generally devoid of food, I eat the entire pack of bacon at once and help me if I cook a gallon of tropical chicken noodle soup, because I’ll eat that sucker in under 20 minutes.

Worse still, my lack of moderation is in cahoots with my unconscious need to compare my success with that of those around me. A 99 percent on a class final is all well and good — until the guy in the front row scores 100 percent and I feel the urge to pummel him with my laptop.

Given that striking personality flaw, you can imagine the mayhem that ensued upon realizing that I was making a good bit of money this summer.

See, while the wages for my new job are very average (which is reasonable considering the fact that my only responsibility involves moving heavy things from one place to another), the hours are wonderfully excessive. In a normal week I might spend more time working than sleeping, which, for me, is quite a feat.

Unfortunately my thought process upon discovering my newfound cash flow went something like this: Overtime means money and money buys things. And if I can buy one of the things, then I’ll be darned if I can’t buy all of the things.

So began the summer of unchecked spending.

I bought a three-foot stack of economic books and read them all. This is not because I was looking for financial insight (which would have been a nice idea), but because I felt guilty for buying them and inadvertently became more intelligent because of it. I suppose that I should be grateful because when the calories from the unhealthy amount of bacon I’ve been buying finally hits, I’m sure I’ll be somewhat less enthused by my financial decisions.

Granted, some of these planned purchases are genuinely useful: new laptops and quality two-man tents tend to retain their value for a while. Other purchases are a little more impulsive and a lot harder to justify. For example, on the day that the government surveillance scandal broke (everyone wave hello to John, the friendly NSA agent), my first thought was to buy five TracFones, a new floor safe and a large quantity of tinfoil for hat-making purposes.

The truth is, I’m really not sure I’ll ever need any of these things, and I’d be hard pressed to explain why I want them now. Unfortunately my brain doesn’t exactly subscribe to a cost/benefit analysis manner of thinking. Instead of evaluating whether I need something new, I tend to dream up all of the farcical reasons that I don’t need to go without the various things.

For example, there is no conceivable reason that I should spend my hard-earned money on unnecessary spy equipment and a Slurpee machine I found online on a website that inexplicably deals in both markets. However, I also can’t think of one good reason for not owning a tie clip with a concealed camera and a glorious machine that makes the most delicious of frozen beverages.

This is generally the part of the column where I offer a long-winded, mildly coherent metaphor or life lesson. At the very least, I would generally fake having learned something from my weekly plight. This time, however, I’ve yet to come up with an answer for my ridiculous spending habits.

I feel like a little boy who’s been sent shopping for school clothes by myself for the first time, coming home dressed like Macklemore from the “Thrift Shop” video. Only instead of a fur coat and a scooter, I’ve got five pounds of tinfoil and a Slurpee. And bacon.

I can only imagine the shame my business professors would feel knowing that one of their students has taken approximately none of their lessons to heart. This is going to be an interesting summer.

Tune in next week as I discover that not only does money not buy happiness, it is also generally inadvisable to spend it all on junk food. Go figure.


Written by Evan Dodd