Money and me
My parents sent me enough money every month to cover the rent, utility bills, and food. The amount would have been enough if I had lived a frugal life. But the problem was I completely lacked in the budget managing skills. It was an irony because I was a business study student.
I no longer wore a school uniform, so I needed clothes. It was a few years too early for Uniqlo to clothe the entire nation with their fleece jackets, and the concept of fast-fashion wouldn’t be imported until I left Japan 10 years later. The main streets’ shops had beautiful and high-quality clothes that each piece seemed to cost over 10,000 yen ($100). On top of financial ignorance, I had no sense of style or skills of French women, who only had ten items of clothes and still looked chic. If I bought a top and a skirt, they’d only go with each other, so I’d have to buy more sets of top and skirt to avoid wearing the same clothes every day. Even then, I didn’t live up to the standard of some of the girls on campus, who never seemed to wear the same item twice and carried famous brand bags. Most of them were from Tokyo and lived with their parents, and had a disposable income from working part-time jobs.
Socializing cost me more than food. We’d go to an izakaya, order beer and food. It was customary that women paid less than men because, supposedly, they drank/ate less and men. No matter how sexist the arrangement was, it worked well with me as I drank/ate less than anyone with no doubt. Still, I’d pay 2,000 – 3,000 yen each time. As I was lonely and craved for companions, I rarely declined an invitation for social drinks, which happened at least a few times a week.
The monthly allowance from my parents often dried up before they sent me the following month’s fund. They never said anything about my reckless spending except when my mother said I should try to save some every month. I told her it wasn’t like I was not trying.
My relationship with money didn’t improve until over a decade later when I got myself in debt. I wish my parents educated me on finances earlier in my life. They weren’t rich in any way, though they had stable jobs with the local government. Their silence about our financial responsibility gave me the illusion that money would always magically manifest itself when I needed it. It wasn’t a bad affirmation if you had known how to connect with the universe, but one also needs to be realistic.