An Ode To Zillow & The Bu-Jay

I am not a numbers girl. The only "C" I ever got was in an advanced calculus course in college, and I'd never seen anything more glorious than that grade on my final exam. I'd been studying so hard I'd fall asleep face first in my text book at least two times a week, and I was really getting tired of explaining the weird crease line down my face to the barista the next morning. Add that to an upbringing where financial literacy was a foreign concept, and top it off with living in the most expensive city in the United States, and I've been a real danger to my piggy bank for a really long time. I mean, when one bedroom condos down the street are selling for over a million dollars, what's the point in a savings account?  I'm never going to be able to afford something like that so why even bother saving, especially when the shoes in that Facebook ad are so. effing. cute. 

So when I started dating a man who's a spread sheet wizard and has financial projections five years out, let's just say it was new territory for me. And more than new, it was terrifyingly uncomfortable.

He started throwing around this term I'd never heard before. It sounded like a French word - a "bu-jay"....? but he kept insisting it's called a "budget," that it's a way to track expenses, and that most people have them. THEN one fateful Saturday afternoon we sat down together in my living room and made one for me...

So I have this not-so-fun-to-have-habit of giggling until I cry when I'm nervous. It doesn't happen often. It's rooted in some seriously deep discomfort, and I do everything I can to avoid this embarrassing display of internal state dead giveaway. In law school, I'd over prepare so completely that I'd wake up reciting rule statements in my sleep just to avoid giggle tears in the class room. And here I was on my couch, sweater zipped up to my nose, tears streaming down my face to meet muffled laughter, and my boyfriend staring back at me with bewilderment.

This little charade became a monthly occurrence. Every time we'd sit down on the couch to go over last months expenses and my attempts at tracking them, I'd inevitably devolve (and still do) into a dewey eyed dunce. But, I keep doing it. Why?

Zillow. Thank you, Goal Setting Jeebus, for Zillow. It's this wondrous little website & app where you can look at homes across the U.S. and what they recently sold for. While there ain't no way I'm ever affording a home in the Bay Area (unless a rich uncle comes out of the woodwork and bequeathes his riches to which case, Dear Uncle, please reveal yourself soon), I can look around at the other cool cities and realize that one-day-some-day doesn't have to feel so far away! A cool condo in Denver, a fixer-upper on the east side of Austin, or 15 acres in Boise are all really doable with some commitment to the bu-jay!

It may take several months of laugh crying through the discomfort to amass any serious savings, but it's worth it now that I have an attainable end goal. And maybe I'll never buy a place - life has a weird way of thumbing it's nose at your best laid plans - but the point is, I'll have some type of savings that I can use for whatever comes my way. And to get there, I first had to muster up the courage to mangle my way through the malaise.

So, Future MellieMel thanks you, Zillow, Bu-Jay & Kleenex, for all that you do, month after month, laugh cry sesh after laugh cry sesh.

Mellie Mel
Mellie Mel


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