See that. That’s my giant tattoo. Here are a list of facts about it:
1) It was done by Scott Veldhoen. He’s a talented, longstanding artist in Calgary. (View his work here.)
2) The only real butterfly close to this size is the Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing. It’s in the rainforest and its wings aren’t anything like this pattern and colour scheme.
3) It cost me about $1,100. (If I remember correctly, Scott didn’t charge me for the last three hours so it would’ve cost more.)
OK, that’s not a lot of money to spend on something I will have for the rest of my life. (Not: I’ll totally wear these shoes forever! More like: I need hours of expensive and painful laser surgery to undo this particular purchase.)
However, it is a lot of money when one doesn’t have the money. Because here’s a secret. I paid for this tattoo on credit. I booked appointments ahead of time, and when they came I didn’t have the cash. So I used my credit card. At the time, the standard tattooing rate in Calgary was $180. Each sitting was about a $300+ charge to my card. Using my credit card was especially complicated, because there was no card machine in the tattoo studio. I transferred money to my Visa, withdrew that borrowed money (at a 12% interest rate) and handed it over.
How did I justify this to myself? Probably something along the lines of: it’s small installments (never mind that the installments all came from the same credit card) or I’ll have it forever. Yes, I’ll have it forever. That’s true. I’ll also carry guilt about it just as long. Whenever anyone mentions my giant tattoo, he or she inevitably asks: “How much did that cost?”. At which point, I think about how I didn’t really have the money for it.
Every. Single. Time.
Since then, I’ve had a few more tattoos (also purchased on credit). But after the last one, I made a no-more-tattoos-unless-I-have-cash rule. None. Nada. Not even a small tasteful star behind my right ear.
Here’s what happened: I stopped getting tattoos.
Why? Because it’s not a priority for me. I’m not sure it ever was, since I never saved money for them. Anything that matters to you, you will find the money for. Not the credit kind but the cold-hard cash kind.
For me, it’s the same with travelling abroad. I like to travel. I like flying, I like new experiences and I love not cleaning up after myself. But it’s not a priority for me.
I’d much rather enjoy the 50 weeks a year that I have in my city, in my home and living my life, than scrimp and save and suffer to go on a trip and then come home and think about the two amazing weeks I spent away.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t spend money on tattoos or travels. If those are your priorities, you will find the money for them. Just make sure it’s the real kind
* I’ve never actually been to Tahiti. I just liked the alliteration. I have been to Thailand though, and it’s not nearly as cheap as people claim.