Monday, April 28, 2008

Living paycheck to paycheck

American society makes this very easy. Here, you get paid every other week, or even once a week in some places. Or if you’re lucky, you get cash in hand as soon as your job is done.

It’s easy to throw it all away – there’s more money soon anyway. I’ll deal with my bills tomorrow. I’ll make more money next week.

In Sweden, you get paid once a month. Financial responsibility, i.e. budgeting, is taught early in schools and implanted in your brain in the cradle by your parents.

You plan to pay your bills, you plan for your groceries and you plan your trip because gas is so ridiculously expensive. Preferably, you take your bike to work or you walk. You don’t create extra waste, and you don’t create more work for others.

Each paycheck is dedicated to certain bills. Then you cook your own food and bring it to work (as mentioned in earlier posts) and you don’t waste your money on useless things.

There are, of course, exceptions. I think they exist in any culture. But for the most part, Europeans are fostered to be responsible.

Here, everything is geared toward bad impulse control. I want it now and I’m going to get it.

Perhaps that’s why I fit in so well.

3 comments:

Anne Sofie said...

Good writing. The final line is perfect.

(Not that all European/Swedes are that responsible, but you are right that the monthly paycheck requires responsibility.)

BluePlastic said...

I think that people in the U.S. could benefit from being taught that sort of thing. It's very hard to try and stick to it when you learn it later, because you know what it's like to have what you want when you want it, and of course that's more fun than self-denial. If you set it up so you don't know what it's like to have instant gratification, it's easier...

Vickan said...

Blueplastic>> That's true. Once you know what it's like to get what you want when you want it, you don't want to take a step back and say "I really shouldn't do that."

Perhaps that's why I find it hard to think of moving back to Sweden. I like shops that are open 24/7, I like to eat what I want to when I want it and I like to buy what I want when I want it without having to worry.