Everytime I receive my salary, my mind starts churning, dreaming of what I'd buy: purple suede boots, secondhand music instruments, giant legs of ham. Then it hits me: none of the money is meant for me. After necessities like rent and food, every penny goes straight to my debt. The thought bubbles pop in that instant.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned since moving abroad was the price of an inflated lifestyle. In Canada I earned a lot, for very little work. I had zero debt when I left, but my lifestyle didn't change once I hit Spanish soil. I still honed in on "wants": an expensive apartment to rent alone, convenience foods, clothes and shoes, and yes bartender, one MORE round of drinks. It was evident how much I'd been shopping when it was time to move from Villacarrillo to Jaén, and I had SIX large boxes of stuff. There was so much that my friend had to return another day to drop off the rest at my new apartment.
I'm lucky to be employed by a program that pays enough to cover basic expenses, even if I choose to live alone. I'm also lucky in that if I choose to go out for a drink, it's cheap and the appetizers are free. But I have to be careful, and do jobs on the side, in order to really enjoy Spain: travel, gym membership, concerts, etc.
Slowly, my debt is dropping. The most important thing is once it hits zero, I must do my best to never let it accumulate again. Then I'll be free to buy those purple suede boots I've been eyeing.