From an early age my parents told me I could only spend my money once; this is I think inherent to growing up in The Netherlands, with its frugal reputation and giddiness over striking good deals. I first got pocket money when I was four and if I remember correctly, that was about five cents per week (still guilders those days). As I grew up, that amount slowly increased until I got about 50 euros “clothing money” per month when I was about fourteen. A little sidenote story: one of the first times I went shopping with anyone besides my parents I decided to buy a pair of red Converse All Stars that I had wanted for ages but my parents disapproved of because they were expensive – they were furious. I still have those All Stars to this day, but these days I wear them only occasionally – even so, I sometimes joke about that moment and remind them that in retrospect they were a good investment.
Still, I understand why they were mad. I was raised with the ideas that brands did not necessarily represent better quality or longetivity. However, these days lots of my acquantainces and friends are busy with the notion of sustainability; investing in quality items will be a good investment as it can save money on a long-term basis. I agree and disagree at the same time. My wardrobe can easily be split into two: casual and more formal clothing. I absolutely look at formal clothing with a more critical eye than I do casual clothing. I also generally spend more on formal clothing, seeing it as an investment for ‘looking smart in the future’. And when it comes to sustainability, I adore second-hand shops and vintage markets: not only can one find books there at a fraction of the original price, but also quality clothing and accessories. To be honest; I hardly buy clothes these days – I have everything I need, especially since my mother just gave me six of her amazing ’80s pencil skirts and (especially handy since we have the same body shape: thanks!) and I acquired two amazing Scotch & Soda jeans in the Bijenkorf sale (one of them sold at sixty euros cheaper than its original price – my inner Dutchie was ECSTATIC). I have everything I need for now, but I do have a little wish list: smart and comfortable black heels for formal occasions or work and perhaps a warmer winter coat.
Anyways, I obtained some additional income through side jobs in the past. From that income I saved about 2500 euros when I was eighteen, most of which I invested in my driver’s license and furniture for my first student room: I show some signs of hoarding in the sense that I like to live with stuff around me. I think those decorating tendencies have currently dissipated a little, but I am still no minimalist. I like books, shoes and kitchen equipment way too much to be able to put all my belongings into a couple of boxes.
However, I have always wanted to invest that which I had left in my savings account because it seems like a smart idea to do, building capital over the years and being able to live on more than direct income alone. I find this to be important in my quest to becoming a Financially Stable Adult©. I came across some interesting websites today:
- This website explains how stocks and investing in stocks work: http://jlcollinsnh.com/stock-series/
- This man has a lot of interesting insights in general about saving money: http://thenewyorkbudget.com/2014/01/24/money-youve-saved/
- I hear a lot of appreciation for this app: https://www.mint.com/. I shall give it a try soon, even though my income these days is mostly what the Dutch government provides me with.
In any case, I have read plenty of people recommending Vanguard for investing. Since I am not sure whether this would be the best option for little old European me, I am going to shop around for an investment fund for a little while until I make a decision with whom I want to invest and wherein I want to invest. One thing is sure, however: investing does seem like the way to go.