Vibenomics: Vibe out those extra expenses

Luc Palmer

Oh boy. Guess what? It’s time to check your bank balance again. Yep. Do you feel it? The queasiness in your stomach? Palms sweating? Knees weak? Arms are heavy?

A general rule of thumb we were taught is to check your account once a week, at least. Now, if you’re a Boomer who’s been earning good money at a career for over 30 years, then you can bet your bottom dollar that the weekly balance check is a non-issue.

If you’re in your twenties, however, it’s usually a different story. You’re working a job that you feel lucky to have in the current climate and maybe that gig is full-time, but it’s likely not. The money you’re making is… well, it’s daylight robbery. At best, the amount that enters your account every month leaves a lot to be desired. Let’s say you’re paying rent, buying groceries and trying to still have a good time with friends when you can, all while attempting to save at least a little per month.’   

Oh yeah, the saving… it’s what you’re supposed to do in your twenties, right? At least, that’s what our parents, teachers and every rich jerk on social media has been telling us to do for years. Your 20’s are supposed to be your money-saving ‘grindset’ phase, where you work long hours, live like a monk and thereby magically end up a millionaire on Instagram once you hit 30. If you’re reading this, this likely isn’t you. The people who end up filthy rich in their thirties are mostly those who were born that way.

Now, if you’re in a spot similar to the one laid above, checking your bank account every week is likely something you dread. You open the app or the webpage and you catch yourself actually praying for a hot second; praying that the number you see on that screen is higher than the one in your panicked brain.

What if I told you that there was a revolutionary way to cease all bank balance-related anxiety? A method to ensure that you only have to have that dreaded 5-10 minutes of mood-destroying confrontation once every couple of months? What’s the secret? What’s that missing ingredient to the soup of wellbeing?

Just vibe it out. I’m serious. It’s all about the vibes.

Okay, let me explain.

You start with what you know:

1)   How much you get paid every month (if you’re not on a fixed salary, come up with your best guess of an average)
2)   How much your rent is (if this isn’t a factor, good for you, how’s #vanlife treating you?)
3)   What your basic living costs are (groceries, subscriptions, travel/gas etc

Great, now you know what your base monthly costs are versus what you make. Now, you know that if 2) and 3) was all you spend money on, you would be fine. You would live like a monk; like you’re devoted to a purpose far greater than yourself and all you need to feel complete is a life led in pursuit of that ideal.

Trouble is, you’re a human in a capitalist society. Shame on you. You don’t just spend money on the bare essentials. You like to go out, order takeaway, buy new clothes and go on trips. Sometimes you need to replace stuff.

I am not admonishing you for this. There is nothing wrong with treating yourself. However, this is likely where a lot of the anxiety stems from. You bought that sick top or had that tough week where you couldn’t be bothered to cook and had takeout every night, and it’s those expenses that make you feel bad when it comes time to look at that horrid number on the screen.

Here's my solution, from one human to another: vibe out those extra expenses.

I just got back from a week-long trip to see some friends. The flight was a big cost and I spent a little more that week than I normally would, because it was a holiday. Before, I would have had a week like that, get home and check my balance, and feel bad for the rest of the month. Here’s what I’m doing now instead: I’m just gonna make sure I’m relatively frugal for the rest of the month. No extra expenses, just the basics; my living costs and no more.

That’s the simplicity of it, but here’s the accompanying stupidity:

I desperately need new pants. I have three pairs of trousers, only one of which is totally fine. One pair is too tight on me and therefore uncomfortable to wear for the whole day, the other pair has a big old tear in them (it’s on the inseam, so I can’t even argue that it’s a cool wear-and-tear feature). Now, despite this fact, I will still not be buying new pants this month. The vibe is not right. The stars aren’t aligned. Next month should be the right time.

How do I know? Don’t get me wrong, I can do general mental subtraction and know that I just had an expensive week, but mostly, I’ve decided this based on feeling. Buying a new pair of pants this month doesn’t feel right, so I won’t do it. When I think about doing it right now, an uneasiness settles in my chest. It’s not guilt or shame, it’s some kind of intuitive resistance.

Another example: I’ve had weeks where I’ve indulged and had lovely take-outs two or even three nights in a row. That following night, I’d be heading home from the gym and thinking about picking up an absurdly large McDonalds order. The last thing I wanted to do was go home and cook. Then, I’d remember to breathe deeply and a far clearer, less needy thought would enter my membrane:

“You big silly, you’ve had take-out twice this week already. If you do it again, it won’t feel right. Cooking isn’t that bad. Put on some tunes and fry up that goshdarn chicken breast and have a lovely time doing it.”

Getting take-out didn’t vibe correctly that night, so I went straight home and cooked instead. I was pretty grumpy at first, a nice scowl on my face while I cut up the chicken and boiled water. My stomach was screaming at me and I kept thinking about how much happier I would be with a Big Mac in front of me.

But guess what? The tunes took hold of me. I seasoned the hell out of the chicken and had a little dance. The sounds of sizzling and spitting wafted gloriously over the pop-punk anthems. The smell from the peppers frying was gorgeous and once I finally got to sit down to eat, I felt at peace, because I had followed the vibes, instead of my reptile brain.

The opposite of this situation is also true. Sometimes, the vibes demand that you buy stuff. Just a few weeks ago, I realised I needed some new t-shirts. That same day, my flatmate told me about this new brand he’d found online that had good designs and fits, while also being pretty cheap. Lo and behold, your boy got some fresh threads. The stars aligned.

I just checked my account today after having not done so for two months. The results were devastatingly cool. The amount was actually higher than it had been two months ago on payday, meaning I’d actually saved money, even after my trip. This feat was accomplished without a single thought or care. It was all based on feeling. Therefore, I hereby solemnly declare that vibenomics works and is possibly the greatest financial strategy ever created. You’re welcome. 

Cover by Ugne Valaityte