Now is Expensive

The Future is Now - Ornate Clock

I started writing this blog a week ago. I saw this phrase in a commercial, and unfortunately, I don’t remember which one. Regardless, the statement “Now is expensive” really stuck with me. I’ve been simmering on this statement ever since, and I think I finally have a small grasp on this concept.

Today marks the one year anniversary of my mother’s untimely death. She had a beautiful spirit and was full of wise words beyond her time, but when is death timely? And more than that, although time is universal, it has a price tag. Time has many forms, and it can be friendly or evil. Cheap or costly. Or even, life or death. And time is interchangeable with money, as money can take on these forms also. The past has already happened, but it’s penniless. You can’t buy anything in the past. You can’t go back. The future hasn’t happened yet, and we can calculate future values of money.

Yes, I just mentioned that dreaded term. Are you having any flashbacks of your Six Sigma or supply chain management classes? Financial accounting? I am. I’d like to move on quickly from this point.

Calculation of future dollars is possible, but the numbers are intangible. We can’t feel them in the future; therefore, the future truly has no price in perspective.

The only time that costs me money today is now. And, now is very expensive. What does that mean?

Every minute is precious. The past cannot be changed, and the future cannot be guaranteed or touched. The only thing that we can suppose is that today, and now, is the most prized possession of the highest value. Now is expensive.

So what do we do with that?

In business, we want that sale now. We want our fifteen minutes of fame now. The profit must come in the door now. The bottom line needs to be black now. And how do we get those things? Paying off debt from past investment, paving the way to now. Taking on more debt to pay off in the investments toward the future. Those two worlds collide now, and for that we pay more than a pretty penny.

The same illustration can be applied to our daily lives. Today, I’m paying for the debts of my undergraduate degree, while taking on more debt to fund my MBA. Today, I’m taking inventory of my memories with my mom from the past, while trying to imagine my graduation with my MBA, my wedding and my first child without her. Now is emotionally expensive, too.

I’ve taken the last few weeks to reflect on the memories I keep alive in my heart about my mom, good and bad. As emotionally expensed as I feel today, the now of this is what keeps me alive.

Does the expensive now in business keep the wheels moving?

Love Your Job; Money Will Follow

Today, on Forbes.com, there was a story listing quotes from the women of Old Hollywood. Really, they weren’t just quotes, but words of wisdom about careers, success & money. Of course, I have some favorites, but the one that spoke most to me today was by Hedy Lamarr:

I know why most people never get rich. They put the money ahead of the job. If you just think of the job, the money will automatically follow. This never fails.

For me, this is a hopeful nugget of advice, a yellow brick road to my Oz, an end for my means. In May, my mom passed away due to complications with her battle with alcoholism. She is free. I couldn’t be more relieved for her freedom. But, as with many major life events, I was faced with an unsettling combination of feelings, including fear and a sense of being completely lost. I also faced the ice-cold truth that I was unhappy in my job and the career path to follow it.

I left my job – a very comfortable, salaried position from one of the biggest employers in the Pittsburgh area. I took a look at my options, deciding that I’d rather make minimum wage facing customers, doing something I enjoyed, than make a salary, continuing to work in a suffocating, cubicle, data processing position. I knew it would be tough, but I had done it in the past. I mean, while I was an undergraduate, I was working up to 3 or 4 jobs at  a time to make end’s meet while taking 18 credits per semester.

I could handle minimum wage while in grad school, right?

Wrong. See, when I was an undergrad, I hadn’t gotten used to making much more per hour than I made at those 3 to 4 odd jobs. Now, I was used to a salary. I was used to spending my money a certain way, living a certain lifestyle and worked my relationships around these truths. I had to re-learn how to budget, cook creatively and date my boyfriend cheaply. And, it hasn’t been easy.

Since I resigned from my salaried position, my Downtown cubicle with a view of the city, I have taken myself on a ride, trying to find my new path. Tonight, on New Years’ Eve before the first day of 2013, I can see that I’m finally coming into my new path. After various attempts to find my new path, including a stint working in retail again, being a full-time grad student, and then working as a barista, I find that my current path may not be a perfect fit, but it’s an excellent start.

Today, I have a full-time internship in marketing at a school, continue my studies in the part-time MBA program at University of Pittsburgh, and work one afternoon a weekend as a barista. It’s just enough to feel overwhelmed to scare me into accomplishing everything I need to on a daily basis. It’s diverse enough to keep my engaged. And, as always, I’m a jack-of-all-trades, wearing many colors on my colorful cloak.

Sounds great, right?

Well, unfortunately, I am barely making end’s meet. I’ve had to ask for financial help from our parents, and have had to depend on others to make it through each month. (Luckily, they can help and I am so thankful for them.) For the six days per week I work, the six hours of class time per week, the homework, and LIFE, I am not even making half of what I made at my last position. Gas money and groceries are sometimes provided by my piggy bank. My morning latte has been replaced with coffee made in my Mr. Coffee and a hot shower. I eat Cup of Noodles on the regular again for the first time since my dorm days. Instead of buying a refill for my toner, I’m digging through my old products for a suitable substitute. My boyfriend and I have changed our date night venues from some Pittsburgh favorites to Chipotle or places for which I’ve found coupons.

And you know what? I couldn’t be more thrilled.

This bump in the road is exactly what I needed to get back to me. I’ve always made these thrifty choices, and I’ve always been most inspired and driven by tough circumstances. It’s almost like I become stifled the second I get comfortable, or normal.

Ringing in 2013 is not just looking forward to what’s in store in the coming year for me, but it’s also slamming the door on what 2012 brought. I learned a lot about myself, my family and my future; I wouldn’t trade these lessons for the world. However, I couldn’t be more thrilled to see 2012 go. I’ve made many goals that I’ll share in coming posts, but I wanted to give you a glimpse into where I am today, on the Eve of the New Year. With that, I’m taking into account that I’m doing just what Ms. Lamarr suggested. I am focusing on the task at-hand, not the money. Let’s hope her story is true.

And if my fortune cookies from the past few months are any indication, I’d say it’s safe to say I have some green in my future–

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