Finances are more often than not a stressing issue for families and individuals alike. Generally even if we have enough, we still want more, and if we don’t have enough we stress about ways to find it.

Personally, as a single person living on my own, I loathe the encroaching moments when things are tight and I struggle to make mortgage payments, student loan payments, utility payments while still try to manage to have money left over for groceries and minimal socializing. The levels of anxiety the feeling of not having enough money causes is frightening. I realize having a job and a mortgage to worry about, let alone affording a social life, should be considered luxuries compared to the lives of many people, but I still don’t know many who don’t wish their salary was higher or that their yearly pay increments were more than 2% at a time.

I don’t take for granted that I have a stable job that pays me enough to survive but it almost seems as though basic survival is definitely a thing of the past, people aren’t interested in only sustaining their needs they additionally look to meet the numerous wants they have. Is it possible to be happy with only the essentials or are we naturally programmed to want more once we’ve meet our basic needs? If we haven’t fulfilled our basic needs do we not yearn for more, or do wants sometimes outweigh necessity? I’ve seen people stapped for cash, $50 short of rent money go buy a pack of smokes and McDonald’s for dinner instead of logically putting that money towards the bigger conern, but what drives us to do these things? Is advertising to blame? Are we more concerned about keeping up with the Jones’ than our own well being? Do we even really want all these “extras” or do we just acquire them because it seems like a good idea?

I often envy friends who live in the ideal “DINK” (Double Income, No Kids) situation where they have essentially double the income, shared expenses, and usually less debt because they have more money to put towards it. The DINK lifestyle additionally in turn comes with more vacations, nicer things, more frequent outings, etc. – who wouldn’t like that? Having someone to share the financial burden and an increased disposable income definitely alleviates a lot of money stress and feeds the desires for material wealth, playing perfectly into the wants based society we all live in. Don’t assume I am bitter though please, I aspire to be a DINK one day too, but until then I do take pride in the fact that I am making a go of things on my own and surviving.

I did recently, however, have my somewhat of a pity party regarding my lonely struggles put into perspective when I read the 2008-2010 stats Canada national income averages. When you learn that someone in your same “category” makes $10-15, 000 less than you do on average, you start to realize that maybe you’re not so bad off. I regularly wonder how I make it through, but I couldn’t even fathom the idea of making even a couple of hundred dollars less, let alone thousands less. The idea of not being able to afford paying the bills I have presently frightens me, what frightens me more though, is that I would almost be willing to give up some of the more essential luxuries I have like cable and an amped up cell phone plan in lieu of giving up my social life and car I rarely use.

What would you be willing to sacrifice in the name of something else more important to you, but still frivolous in the eyes of many?