Giving Myself Permission to Live a Little

I was in Hamburg this time last week to spend time with family.

Both my mom and I were slightly incapacitated by sticker shock. There were a few random items that were cheaper than in Toronto (plain yogurt, booze, a good group deal on public transport after 9am) but everything else was either the same price but in Euros or more than five times the price (before the conversion to Canadian dollars!!!)

I know we shouldn’t compare apples with Euro apples but it is a tough thing to do when frugality is ingrained in us- my mom even more so than me!

It also didn’t help that Hamburg is one of the most expensive cities in Germany- sort of like how London compares to the rest of Great Britain. This adds a little extra to the “ouch” factor.

The upshot is that we did very little shopping- which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And I now understood why so many people seemed to live in H&M. In fact, I did the most shopping (in terms of # of items purchased) at H&M because they had some things severely discounted (WAY cheaper than what I would find in Canada) and a little shopping (and much drooling) at H&M’s more sophisticated sister store COS. In fact, I may just have to send my sister an email to pick up a leather and rubber cuff at COS that I should have come home with me.

I talked to some people about the standard of living- expecting salaries to be in line with the high cost of living. Wrong. We even happened upon a demonstration at City Hall concerning the endangered status of the middle class and the increasing concentration of wealth among the elite.

This doesn’t sound familiar- at all….

But what does this all have to do with the tea in China?

Well, nothing but it reinforced how lucky I am.

Even though I am on contract, I make an above average income for this city (first year ever!), my cost of living is low (through dumb luck) and that same bit of luck (buying a house in 1994 and being mortgage-free) leaves me in a pretty privileged position (my emergency fund is such that I won’t have to dumpster dive for my supper if my contract isn’t extended).

But what did my experience in Germany teach me?

I need to loosen up a little.

I am doing a lot of the right things and made a lot of sacrifices to be in the position I am today so I should not feel guilty if I buy that pair of boots, see J Mascis at The Great Hall next week, book a cheap flight somewhere because Porter is having a sale.

Okay, maybe not all at once but I need to truly embrace the ideal of balance before I get to the end of the line and wonder why I did not enjoy the ride along the way.

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~ by angryegg on October 26, 2011.

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