Saturday, February 21, 2009

What's a Little Money Here and There

I guess I just have a lot to say today. Actually, nothing earth-shattering. This is sort of a meditation on spending. I have been thinking about how much I spend, what I spend it on, how selfish am I being, etc.

We are told that we should be fiscally responsible, save money, not go into debt, and conversely that we need to spend to keep the economy going. Having gone into debt twice, not counting the mortgage that we used to have, I know that not spending more than we have is a good thing. I don't have any sleepless nights, worrying about paying off credit cards any more. On the other hand, that has not really curbed my desire for stuff, even though I moan about how much stuff we have and how we should get rid of most of it.

I grew up in a family that was not fiscally responsible. The American dream was to have everything, lots of it, and always new. In fact, when we bought our house, my dad couldn't believe that we bought something so old (1947). My brother Rich has an even older house but that is so much more respectable than just post war. Old houses in Evanston are stylish, older houses in Champaign are just middle-aged. After all, the house is only four years older than I am, not so old after all.

Growing up with that kind of ethic, I have never had a problem spending money. But now there are limits to what I can spend. Peter is more the product of depression-era parents and their thinking. So he doesn't really like to spend money, although trips are one area in which he will loosen the purse strings.

Now I need to think about next month's allowance and what I want to spend it on. I have already broken the rules by not paying for my memberships out of my allowance. I know I agreed to that and subscriptions but I still just pay for them out of our account. The bike is another gray area, or perhaps I should say bikes. I am going to get a refit and a spring tune-up for the road bike next week. That will come out of the household account. Sometimes bike clothes come out of my allowance and other times out of my allowance. I think I am more likely to justify bike shorts as necessary and new jerseys and fun socks as allowance items. The same is true of regular clothes. Sometimes they come out of my allowance and sometimes out of the household account. Underwear is never an allowance purchase but other clothes are not so clearly defined. Depends on my mood and the shape of my account. Yarn usually comes out of my account, but not always. Peter has been good about not complaining every time he sees these purchases reflected in our account, but sometimes he's not too happy about it.

In the meantime, I have several things I might buy when my allowance magically gets renewed next month. I already have books on order at Amazon but only one is supposed to come next month. That said, their estimates are frequently off and I receive things earlier or later than predicted. Coffee makes me think about ordering the Bialetti Mukka, although I would probably call it a household expense and charge it to the household account. Do we both drink coffee? No. Can I mentally justify it, probably. That leaves the things that I will buy out of my account. I have been looking at a gorgeous silk scarf, a totally unneeded extravagance since I have a lot of scarves and Peter just got me two for Valentine's Day. Still, it is at the front of my mind. Today I discovered that you can get battery-operated turn signals for your bike. Even wireless! So useful for a klutz like me. If you are interested, check out Safety Bike Signals So I really want that and may or may not be able to justify that out of the household account. And the books. If I have enough money, a few things on research interests to add to the books on order may also happen.

We don't make the big buys that keep the economy humming. No new cars or expensive new tvs. Still, I like to think that we help things along, while still trying to be reasonably prudent.

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