Girls Who Like Money: How I Beat My Shopping Addiction

My story of hitting rock bottom and making it out on top

Girls Who Like Money is a column written to help you feel less bad about your money habits, plus some advice on how to finance your expensive taste.

Let’s talk about depression. When people think of an extreme case, they automatically think of suicide, but the extremities of your symptoms can manifest in every area of your life. Think finances: Who’s paying the bills when you live alone and sleep for 16 hours a day?

Depression is something every person can be afflicted by. Even if you aren’t diagnosed, it’s not an overreaction to say, “I’m feeling depressed today.” Of course, it affects everyone differently. As a person with chronic depression, it makes me feel like life is hard. In truth, my life is easy. For me, it just takes a little more effort.

The difference between myself today and myself two years ago is that I now make a continued effort to stay out of depression. I closely monitor my actions, my reactions, and my mood. If I feel like I might be getting into a depression, I muster up all my strength to crawl out of it. Not saying it always works. But it’s better than what I did before.

Two years ago, if I felt myself getting depressed, I would relish in it. Actually, I wouldn’t “feel” myself getting depressed at all. I would ignore it. I would skip class, not turn in assignments, and show up late to work. When I lost my job, I had so little confidence that I couldn’t find a new one. I almost got kicked out of school. I could barely pay rent, never remembered to pay bills, ignored calls from collection agencies… That year I paid my tuition six months late.

On the outside, I appeared fine. I would joke and hang out with my friends, go out every night of the week, and consistently treat myself to whatever I wanted. 

It’s called instant gratification. It’s when a person ignores the reason why they feel bad, and just solves it right away with something really cool. This is the root of all addiction. Only problem is, it wears off after about 30 minutes. For me, that was shopping. One thing that’s great about Concordia is that a new pair of shoes is less than a minute’s walk away. Great for me, anyway.

At that time, after class, I would make myself feel better for showing up to the lecture 45 minutes late by treating myself to something nice.

It started out innocently enough. I just needed a new pair of mittens, since they keep my fingers warmer than gloves. $12. No big deal.

Later that week, it got colder. I needed a new coat, as mine was not quite warm or chic enough. And a scarf. And, ooh, this cute hat! $65. It’s okay, only a few dollars more than my wifi bill.

Next week, I decided I didn’t have any pants to wear (meaning I didn’t have enough so that I only had to do laundry every three weeks instead of two). So I bought a few new pairs of pants. While in the store I realized I was simply out of cute shirts, so I bought a few of those as well. $200, gone. Woah, half a month’s rent… But it’s okay, I’ll get a new job soon. (I didn’t.)

After pulling one too many times from my tuition-only savings account, I started not having enough money for rent. I was now spending up to $600 in one shopping trip, about once a month, wondering why I couldn’t pay for anything else. I still had no job, and no awareness that I was depressed. After ignoring yet another late rent payment, I decided my only option was to never enter a store again. Luckily, Canadian Amazon sucks.

I recovered soon enough. The next year, I quit smoking cold turkey. Soon after, I met my boyfriend of two years. If anything, what a relationship does is make you really see yourself. I started talking to a therapist and realized I was depressed.

Therapy taught me that I am the only one able to help myself. I speak to myself much more kindly now. I forgive myself for not doing the dishes for two days straight, and I get up and do them. I force myself to pay rent and to turn in my assignments on time, even when I suddenly have the urge to drop out or move across the country. I have not one job, but three. I signed up for auto-pay. I use a planner. I have money saved for the first time in five years. Everyday depression is there, but now I’m strong enough to fight it.

Feature graphic by Lily Cowper


Say hello to the ConU bourgeoisie

[singlepic id=195 w=320 h=240 float=right]To the students of Concordia University,

So, the team here at The Concordian was hoping you could buy us a new means of transportation for the office. We’re not asking for much. A top of the line car maybe? It seems unfair now, but later when we’re cruising from Loyola to SGW while you wait for the shuttle bus in the rain, it will seem even more unfair. Let us explain.

Earlier this week, the Journal de Montreal reported that Concordia University is footing the bill for senior Vice-President Bram Freedman’s rental of a Lexus RX 350. As the VP Institutional Relations and Secretary General, Freedman is entitled to his new ride as per his contract.

The article stated that the six senior VPs at the university have access to $900 a month for rental and maintenance of a vehicle of their choice.

University’s spokesperson, Cléa Desjardins, confirmed that the majority of vice-presidents choose to receive this monthly allowance and while some “arrange their lease or car ownership themselves, some choose to have the university lease a vehicle directly.”

So why all the fuss? Well according to Le Journal, the rental contract between the university and the Montreal Lexus dealer rings in at $37,155.22. Once again, the problem lies in the continuing trend of institutional disregard for money management.

Concordia was fined by former Education Minister Line Beauchamp just this spring to the tune of two million dollars for handing out hefty severance packages like they were monogrammed pens. All the while, students protesting against tuition fee increases say they can’t afford to pay a dollar more, let alone another couple hundred dollars.

When is Concordia going to learn its lesson?

This is not a personal criticism of VP Freedman. He is simply taking advantage of the subsidies program available to him. Granted, he took it as far as he could carry it: a Lexus RX 350 rings in at a starting price of $44,950.

Freedman’s expense reports for 2011 also indicate that he charged the university $1,500 for maintenance on his car and another $788.10 in June of that year for insurance on said vehicle.

Why shouldn’t senior administrators be given perks for executing the difficult job of shaking hands and sitting on committees? All teasing aside, there’s nothing wrong with receiving some benefits, but not when they’re used to explain away unnecessarily costly purchases coming from students’ pockets.

Approximately 94 million dollars of Concordia’s overall operating budget in 2011 comes from student tuition fees, with another 272 million from federal and provincial subsidies. Nearly 80 per cent of the university’s revenue comes from public sources, giving them a responsibility to the students and taxpayers who finance them to spend that money prudently. This is a university, not a privately funded for-profit company and that is a fact the Concordia administration needs to wake up to.

As far as we are concerned, any student who pays fees at this educational institution owns a piece of that car, and that is why people should be outraged. If Bram Freedman isn’t giving us a ride to school each morning, why then should we have to pay for his?


ConU spent thousands on extra security during protests

During the winter semester, universities in Montreal spent thousands in additional funds on extra security measures during the student strike and multiple protests that followed.

Le Journal de Montréal reported on July 4 that Concordia University spent a total of $226,755.39 on security for the entire semester.

Concordia University spokesperson Cléa Desjardins confirmed that the amount dished out by Concordia was over budget and “related solely to student protests.”

“The security presence was meant to ensure the well-being and safety of students, staff and faculty,” Desjardins said, “as well as the security of the university’s physical infrastructure.”

Concordia Student Union VP External Simon-Pierre Lauzon expressed his disappointment but emphasized that he was not surprised.

“We’re getting used to the administration making these kinds of decisions,” Lauzon said. “If management misuses money, nothing happens.”

Increased visibility of security was a point of contention between administration and students at Concordia during the winter semester. While administration deemed it necessary, many students disagreed with the additional security measures taken by Concordia.

The Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec’s Vice-President Yanick Grégoire emphasized that this move was in direct violation of the student strike mandate and the measures were imposed as a method of intimidation, not protection.

“Violence and intimidation doesn’t work,” Grégoire stressed. “Discussion and speaking with one another is key.”

Grégoire criticized Quebec universities for their management of university funds, stating that the money could have gone towards students and research.

“Universities chose confrontation instead of discussion,” Grégoire told The Concordian.

In comparison, McGill University devoted $275,233.39 of its budget for additional security. The Université du Québec à Montréal spent $841 414.95 while the Université de Montréal spent the least at $151,043.19 for the winter semester.

In light of recent media coverage and scrutiny from student organizations, McGill University released a public statement on Monday, July 9. Vice-Principal of communications and human relations Olivier Marcil defended the university’s additional funding due to the student movement.

“We have a responsibility to ensure the safety of our students and staff and to avoid damage to buildings on our campus, many of them heritage buildings. We take that responsibility seriously,” Marcil said.

Marcil also emphasized that 80 per cent of the additional costs were a result of the five-day occupation in the James Administration building in February.

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