Over the years I have learnt a very important lesson about money. It is never enough! When I started my masters’ degree in 2012, I was earning a stipend of $35,000. I had no other sources of income and my rent was $25,000 per month + bills. At the time I was renting one of those helpers’ quarters at the back of a house in Mona. It is unnecessary to highlight how skinny I was at the time. Maybe I need to now revise my weight loss strategy. I recall UWI’s numerous ‘free food’ events and public lectures that also serves the purpose of saving student’s lives. I would show up to these events at exactly the right moment to cheer on the speaker and applaud them for a job well done while joining the line to collect my participation reward. The point is; I survived.
I lived on $35,000 per month for quite a while. At this point, it was not possible to save, which is a major risk in the event of emergencies. The ideal secondary sexual characteristics that allow men to attract a suitable mate; money; was just not present. I was therefore unable to attract a suitable mate. Being so motivated to continue my progeny of big feet men, I had to find a way to make more money. Around this time Sutherland Global started business in Jamaica and I applied and was accepted to work as a consultant for Amazon.com. I recall I was making about $285 to $315 an hour, plus performance incentives that I never received after accumulating over 600 favourable customer reviews (females who did not perform as well-received incentives. Your assumptions regarding the reason are correct). While I was happy for the job, which allowed me, as a student at the time to work part-time, I soon realized that the pay was only crumbs from the master’s table which did not in any way improve my standard of living. My diet consisted of whatever I could get my hands on, I could not afford to get sick (and I didn’t), my clothes and shoes had to last for years and there was just no flexibility in spending.
After several part-time jobs, I got to the stage where I was getting some reasonable cash flow. I was employed to a government office taking home $106,000 per month, while serving as a resident advisor on campus, while demonstrating labs and carrying my full-time load as a PhD student. As a resident advisor, I paid no rent or bills and received a stipend of $50,000 per semester. My graduate school stipend increased to 50,000 per month so effectively I was earning over $200,000 (considering the savings in rent and bills). I was finally able to start saving a little and with an increasingly busy life, public transport was just too inconveniencing. I was eventually able to buy a car. At this point, my secondary sexual characteristics were more favourable to the females and each night I had to be forcing my door shut to keep out all the females that wanted a piece of the action. Leading such a busy life was sadly not ideal for relationships as the quantity of ‘bun’ I received is immeasurable. Anyway, I digress. More on that when I discuss relationships later this year. My standard of living improved but at the end of the month, I was at ground zero. I could no longer save. My diet changed to oxtail and steak and I couldn’t imagine going back to tinned foods and I didn’t have the time to wait in lines at events for free meals. With increasing responsibilities and a major depreciating asset that needs maintenance, at the end of each month, I was in debt. I was making more money but spending even more money.
Even More Money
Money grew. The inevitable increase in income brought on a lot of lifestyle changes. Smoked marlin crepe at Tea Tree Creperie became the taste and quality of the meal that my palate enjoyed. My Honda, which took me around Jamaica without issues, just wasn’t good enough anymore. I upgraded my ride. I also couldn’t live among students anymore so I left my post as a resident advisor. It was my time in any case. At one point I was renting a house in Mona for $120,000! The same issues that I experienced earning $35,000, I experienced earning several times more. With increased income, comes an improved standard of living, resulting in the need for even more income. Still, savings were not significant if at all present. Sometimes I would end the month with hundreds of thousands in credit card debt.
My money management was poor. It is not enough to say live within your means, but one needs to prioritize spending. in 2012 I didn’t even have an Amazon.com account but by 2020 I had prime membership, NetFlix membership, and a variety of other online subscriptions that I hardly ever used. I was also too busy to stop and evaluate it all until Covid-19 hit. I have now made significant adjustments so I can comfortably survive on a fraction of my income while saving or investing the rest. I learned through my mistakes, you should learn through mine. Save first, spend later.
No amount of money will satisfy you. Notice the rich keep trying to gain more wealth. Going after the ideal amount of money is like a dog chasing its tail, you will never get it. For now, while times are hard, prioritize your spending and save as much as possible.