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Frugal Girl From the Midwest

September 19, 2012

There was an aspect to this “which hotel for a friend’s wedding?” question  that I didn’t touch on at the time.

I went to a state school.  I got a GREAT education.  However, it was a school people wouldn’t come  from further than one or two states away to attend.  My tuition was something like $4k a semester.  Many of my college friends worked part-time and a lot of them had student loans.  No one I hung out with spent excessively, no one had super nice cars or designer purses, and almost no one went on international vacations.

Towards the end of college, I spent a semester studying in Hong Kong.  For the first time, I met and became friends with people who went to “real” schools.  Expensive schools.  Highly ranked schools.  Ivy League schools.  Many of my peers came from families with a lot more money than I was used to.  Almost no one else was from the Midwest.  These were college students, but they had designer bags (instead of backpacks?) and seemingly unlimited budgets.

I did encounter a few people with attitudes I didn’t like.  I got a lot of “what do you guys do in [podunk Midwestern state]?” and at least one comment on “flyover country” or people in the middle being uneducated.   However, for the most part, everyone was normal and nice, and I made a great group of girl friends.  They just spent money a LOT more freely than I did.  Whenever we booked a budget vacation together (about once a month), they would call home to ask their parents if they could have the money to go.  I would call and tell my parents where I was going, because it was my [borrowed/scholarship] money.

I gained a reputation for being careful with money.  Not in a bad way, it was just another one of those things.  I always tripped and dropped things and at least once a week I’d send a chopstick flying to the floor.  I was extremely practical, very loyal, kind, and I liked chocolate….  and I was frugal.  Or, as one girl put it, I was “non-baller”.

This wedding is for one of the girls that I was close to on study abroad.  The other girls (minus one) are coming too, flying in from all over the world (europe, asia, USA).   Part of me just wants to not be the frugal girl from the Midwest anymore.  Part of me still wants to spend the $500 on the hotel.  Not because anyone will notice or care, but rather, because it then just won’t be an issue.  I won’t be the one who is catching a cab or driving home after the reception.  I would just be down the hall!   (Worth noting, they only have to pay $125 each, which T and I would have to pay $500 for the two of us.)

I’ve spent time with nearly all of these girls recently, and they seem practical about money.  They are adults with jobs and they pay their own bills.  I don’t know who makes the most money of us, but I’m not at the bottom, and I probably not at the top either.  No one will be judging the money stuff.

The truth is, I still am the frugal girl from the Midwest.  My spending has evolved towards “young professional”, but I still have the same values, the same family, the same practicality, and I still get sentimental when I hear certain country songs on my iPod (even though I grew up in a city).  And I’m very grateful and proud of that.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. mochiandmacarons permalink
    September 19, 2012 6:08 am

    The real question is more about: Do you want to spend $500+ on something that could be free, just to show them that you CAN spend money and to perhaps change your previous image? That’s all I’m reading in this post — that you feel as though you’re not on their level or in their social stratosphere (who would be, anyway?). You called their Ivy League schools ‘real schools’, but your school was just as real. You got a job from your education, didn’t you?

    • September 19, 2012 7:09 am

      i already made the decision to stay elswwhere. it isn’t free, there isn’t a free option, but it is cheaper.

      It isn’t so much showing that I can spend the money, as I doubt anyone really cares. It is just the slight hassle of being somewhere else BECAUSE i don’t want to spend the money will be there.

      It is more of a past tense thing… I definitely did not come from a background where people went to Ivy league schools. No one I know went to one, though there were certainly people smart enough. And you are right – at my job, most people went to very good schools, so clearly my education was good enough to get the same jobs. But I did have to get a year or so of experience at a midwest company.

  2. September 19, 2012 11:22 am

    I know how you feel! A lot of our friends STILL get money and everything paid for by their parents. One of my friends has a condo and new mustang that are both completely paid for (and she’s 21). I’m often known as frugal.

  3. September 19, 2012 5:24 pm

    I’m pretty sure none of my friends knew that my parents were paying for school or how well-paying my internships were because of the way I spent my money. I was far more frugal than many of my friends who paid for school themselves. I remember arguing with a boyfriend about how expensive his coffee was!

    I don’t know what to tell you – most of my group of friends are not that “baller” either.

    I’m finding that the school I went to and where I came from matters less and less as time goes on, as I get further out of school. Meeting up with old friends from college is always weird though.

  4. September 21, 2012 9:57 am

    I always say that I’m cheap. Not frugal. Cheap. And proud of it. 😀

  5. September 23, 2012 7:34 pm

    I think I get what you’re saying: it would be awfully nice to actually not care about the money and go for the convenience which also happens to plays into the social aspect that once existed.

    I suppose the truth is no one actually cares about our status anymore but we are aware of the bill we’ll pay at the end of the event, and we’ll also be aware of the convenience factor of taking the longer route as well. We had to deal with that for recent weddings this year where there were oh so many factors involved with the high maintenence events scheduled (yes, sorry, I am judging a little but nearly a week’s worth of pre wedding stuff was hard to manage!)

    Funnily enough because I am acutely aware that I only have so much energy to spare, I do have these thoughts about: do I just spend the money? But I don’t WANT to spend /that much/ money!

    Where before, because “that much” was some astounding unaffordable amount, the question never would have been asked. And interestingly, PiC has become the other side of the coin balancing me out to help find cheaper options if decision fatigue had set in or just reminding me that yes, we both would be annoyed to get the credit card bill for the higher amount after the event.

    He never had the social aspect that you and I had but he’s become great at helping when these types of situations come into play. Except when it comes to expensive purses or shoes. Then he’s a complete enabler and I’m just screwed. 😉

  6. September 24, 2012 9:27 am

    Yep, I am definitely becoming known as frugal with my friends.. which was not the case when I was an idiot with money. I do kind of get sick of it, especially when they are making fun of me, because yes I’d LOVE to spend on whatever I wanted I just know better than to do that, and it’s kind of insulting to be made fun of for something I feel I have no choice in.

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