Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

For old quotes, look here.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

How fast can you spend it?

The first thing I did this morning was answer the phone and confirm with the fraud protection center of my bank that I did, indeed, spend that much money yesterday, counter to my usual habits. Nice of them to check, but couldn't they have waited another hour or so and let me sleep in? I mean, if it was fraud, would another hour make a difference? Sigh.

The second thing I did was drive back to Fry's for my heart's desire, left behind yesterday in order to sate T's need for a taller, wider, sexier...television set. I walked in and Spencer, the appliance guru, fridge pimp, and sales manager extrordinaire, had the paperwork ready for me. You have to love it when your dealer is ready with your fix. Ahhh, drug references, aren't they just the best?? Say no to drugs, kids, unless they're organically grown and produced, sustainable, and earth-friendly. What? huh? Oh, sorry...umm...just say "no" and forget that other stuff.

This afternoon, the new viewing-beast was installed, and although it's bigger than the old one and therefore horrible in my eyes (the perfect TV for me would probably be the size of a postage stamp and never get louder than a whisper)...well, I kinda like it. It is wider, and taller, but it takes up less space than the old one by way of being flat screenish. It scootches right up to the wall. And it has a pretty colored light around the edge that I can stare at, drooling while it feeds me subliminal messages.

Last night, we cleaned off the old entertainment center and removed it because the new TV wouldn't fit in it. Now there's all this space where the hulking brute used to loom over the room. It's nice. We may leave it this way. Oh, and mum? Sorry...we took the little stand from your room for up here, but we'll replace it soon, honest! I put that old center together myself, long ago when I was single, had a smaller TV and stereo, and lived alone without cable, satellite, or other fiddley electronic things. Ah, those were the days. It has survived several moves and TV (alleged) upgrades, but this is the end...the end, my friend. T and I wrestled it down the stairs and into the garage last night, and unless someone lays claim to it before trash day, it's goin' to the happy furnishing grounds.

Tonight I have to inform the dust menagerie that it has to relocate, at least until the new fridge is installed. I was joking with Spencer, the appliance guru, fridge pimp, and sales manager extraordinaire about disturbing the menagerie...the dust bunnies, dust rhino, and dust anaconda (the anaconda keeps the bunnies in check - those things breed like crazy!!) among others. So I have to disturb the habitat - I hope there's nothing endangered up there - and remove the varying things that seem to collect on top of a fridge when one isn't looking, then empty the thing, and it'll be ready to go to wherever no-longer-loved appliances come to rest. Hey, it did its job, but it was old when I got it, it's had a good run, and anyway, I didn't pick it out. Arranged marriages are weak.

This brings me to the whole freakin' point of this post - spending. When I was living with my grandparents, I would occasionally go shopping with Mimi. That woman was a champion spender, in a class all her own. I don't know how she had the stamina - her credit cards would be whimpering by the end of the day, worn thin and sending up little wisps of smoke. At that time, I had no concept of income and outgo and all that. I thought you just went places, got what you wanted and had it delivered.

I learned about income, budget, and debt the hard way after I moved away from Mimi and the magic plastic. Years later, once I was (mostly) on my own, I had a number of jobs that didn't come close to supporting me and my learned habits. I had to unlearn in a hurry...which I (sort of) did with a little bailing out of the financial boat help from mum.

I try not to buy things I don't need. Things like a new TV when the old one works fine, just because the new one was on sale for less than half the original price and a pretty glowy light around it and how on earth can you walk past that??? Even the new fridge isn't really a necessity - I could have gotten a perfectly serviceable one for much less money and fuss. After all, it's just meant to keep things cool, and spending more because you like the lines and color of one better than another is a little silly when you are constantly strapped. Still...there's one time of year when we get a tad silly with our spending - refund time.

It drives my mum and friends crazy - we allow a bigger chunk of money to be taken from T's paycheck than we have to so we get it back as an uber-chunk. I can't tell you how many time I've been asked why we let the government have our money all year, essentially lending it to them without gaining interest, when T could claim differently and bring home more each pay-period. This is why: we can't save for shit. We try. I'll get the savings up to a few hundred bucks, and then something happens and we end up using it. This way, once a year we get a big chunk, enough to cover some of the expenses that we otherwise couldn't manage without asking my mum for help. I hate having to ask mum for help - I am a middle-thirties grown-type woman and I shouldn't have to run to mummy for help. I should be running to mummy for drinks and gossip.

We actually make a list and prioritize it, budgeting the tax refund before we even get it so we don't forget something important. Like a bed for the kid.

Until we have greater income or better spending habits, this is how it has to be - otherwise we'd never be able to replace the fridge when it's crapping out, or get new tires for the car, or fix the laptop, or any number of things. So my chatter this last two days about shopping? Yeah, don't expect much of that - once a year, I get to pretend I am back in the sweet life of spending-without-consequence, but that's it. For the rest of this year I'll be bitching about scraping by, if I discuss finances at all...which I don't usually, because I wasn't raised that way. Just so you know. The manic madness of yesterday and today are already fading into "Oh, dear, perhaps I shouldn't have gotten the more expensive fridge even if it does have a bit more room and a better ice maker and water filter..." and "Maybe Bird could live without the ridiculously awesome bed we got him and just live with something cheaper..." and the like.

Still...how can you ignore love at first site?? The fridge did have a better Energy Star rating, and it's soooo dreamy....sigh. And the bed may be ridiculous, but he's my kid and he'll only be a kid once. It's solidly built and will last longer than the Evil Empire special we bought two years ago, and he's not going to slice himself open on it. The slide and canopy/tent/fort attachment are insane but neat as hell, and if he's going to play on his bed anyway...

I know, I know, I'm sounding a little defensive...but I am feeling a bit guilty. I do earmark (where did that phrase come from?) some of the refund for charities, and a percentage goes into savings where I hope it'll last more than a week, and whenever I have anything to spare I end up giving it away to someone who needs it more, but...but...sigh.

So the answer is, I can spend it so fast it won't even leave lint in the bank vault...but only once a year, and only when I've planned it out ahead of time. At least until the tax system changes or I win the lottery, and then all bets are off.

Now that I've blathered on at great extent about nothing of interest, I am going to try and get in the way help T figure out why the new view-beast and the old stereo aren't speaking to each other. Yay.

No comments: