Death, depression and reckless spending – why I spend instead of save during national savings month

For 11 out of the 12 months of the year I am disciplined and very obsessive compulsive with how I spend money. In fact it’s more like how much of my money can I save?! But in one particular month, I spend and I spend erratically. You would think that month would be December, for me it is July.

Yep, in South Africa’s national savings month I spend I do not save.

After being diagnosed with depression and being a natural saver, July is a double whammy month perfect for exposing  how I tried to “treat” my depression with stuff.

Like most people, I have dealt with many difficulties, sexual assault, the burden of family (black) tax, family drama, career success, career failure, career stagnation and the list could go on.

All of these things have taken jab after jab at my psyche but nothing pushed me over the mental cliff until the death of my soulmate – my best friend, whom I lost in July 2016.

When she died I tried to resuscitate the ‘Me’ that left with her with stuff!

I’m not even going to torture you with a big reveal of the biggest purchase I made. Let’s just go big:

#1 – A car

I wasted no time when it came to this purchase in fact it took me all of a week before the money bands popped for this.

To set the scene a little, my friend and I had been speaking about me getting a new car for a while but I hadn’t committed to the idea let alone the paperwork. (And being the obsessive compulsive stingy person I am, I probably would have waited months and probably even backed out of the purchase had this not happened.) The day I went to test drive the car we liked for me is the day she died, in a car accident.

*Cues emotional cutting*

When this happened, all sensibility left and I made the purchase. I don’t even think I read the contract, I just signed and I picked up the car in time for her funeral because in my mind that was the appropriate way to send her off – in style.

#2 – Vacations

This is the most recent thing I spent money on which in totality sums up to more money than my car costs me a month was a “vacation”, the Durban July to be more specific.

In the final year or so of her life my bestie got bit by the travel bug. I loved traveling too. We travelled just the two of us and made plans for more bestications. After she died I tried to fill that gap, a Limpopo baecation here, North West sistercation there I even threw in a Gauteng solocation into the mix.

Of all these vacations, none was trumped in terms of spending like the Durban July. Why? Because it was in July! Not a single cent of my monthly savings quota was met for July 2018. Not a single cent!

This dress was the main reason why.


#3 – Gym 

This is probably not what you were expecting to hear but, after months of wallowing in grief (to be honest I was still wallowing at this point), I decided that I needed a distraction. Sure, add all that stuff about health benefits and quotes about a healthy body and a healthy mind.

The problem is that you can’t fix an unhealthy mind by treating the body.  

Truth is there was nothing healthy about what I was doing at the gym. I went in too hard and too fast for someone who hadn’t really exercised in the past 10 years.

I mean I walked, around the mall. And I danced, at parties but that was the gist of my exercise.

It was only when I broke down in tears during a set that I realised that this distraction wasn’t working!

This was July 2017.

Did I stop paying for the gym though? Nope, not for a good four months.

Hitting the gym was an attempt at honouring her desire for us to be more active. (She wanted us to do yoga but there wasn’t studio that suited our location or schedules). The only thing I did at the gym was punish my body to give my soul a break from the torment of existing without its mate.

I was trying to do something WE wanted to do together without her, and it lost its appeal.

It’s been two years since my friend’s death and I only realised this pattern of behaviour now. I don’t know yet if this will stop anytime soon, but I don’t beat myself up about it. I don’t glorify it, nor do I encourage it but if you can show some restraint, I understand it. Also, therapy helps.

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