Saturday, April 24, 2010

Abnormal Psychology

Penny pincher

All words that have been used to describe me- even to the extent of being told today “I squeak when I walk”. From a very young age I started over valuing every dollar in my possession- for field trips when I would be given $20 to spend lavishly, I would try and compare the worth of every object I desired to the amount of work my parents would have put in to earn that dollar- regularly I came home empty handed and returned the hard earned money to its “rightful owner“.

Still to this day, I can not come to accept the idea of giving an hour worth of pay for one t-shirt, two hours for a pair of shoes, or what brought on this whole idea- 5% of my monthly income for a cell phone bill. What makes it even harder to swallow is the fact that my hard earned money is going towards a service, not an object- I cannot go to the store to touch and analyze the quality of phone minutes, I can not choose the color, texture, size, or shape. In fact, I can hardly choose the quantity by which I purchase- it either comes in gas station register like quantity or in Costco sized bulk appropriate for a family of 10! Since when do cell phone companies have the right to tell me what phone I can or cannot buy? The cable company doesn’t tell their customers what TV they have to purchase to obtain a specific service plan, (I am not included in that group since we thrive on bunny ears and netflix in my home), Internet service providers do not require the highest quality Internet if you chose to have a high end computer, and I didn’t have to buy the Tempur-pedic mattress set with my designer bedroom furniture. Yet, cell phone companies require you to pay an additional $15-$30 a month if you would like to purchase a non-shoddy phone . I have been through the “free” phone instance before and, as we all know, quality, reception, battery life, and even speaker volume are the sacrifices you are making. This puts us in quite a pickle- stay with the dreaded Sprint for service (not a desirable option at all- their customer service is quite atrocious), switch to Verizon or AT&T and enter into a contract being told what I HAVE to buy and be near robbed monthly (would I choose this relationship option when picking friends? Hmmm), or boycott the industry all together with NO ONE standing by my side? Oh, the dilemma’s of life and adulthood :)

I spoke extensively about my issue today with the person it affects the most- Jason. I started the conversation by informing him to not be judgmental, but that I really felt as though there is something major wrong with me and that I might need psychological help. After a moment of laughter, I walked him through Bed, Bath, and Beyond and pointed out about 40 items I would love to own ranging from $1.70-$30, but then explained every thought in my mind as I rationalized each item out of the cart- some because I have similar items at home, (good reason, right?), others because once I divided up what they would cost per month vs. the benefit I would receive from using the item- it was deemed not necessary, (starting to sound crazy, I know), and the cheapest item, a pack of gum (which was desperately needed after an onion filled lunch) was nearly vetoed because we have gum at home, (even eliminating the onion odor I was emitting nearly didn’t happen!). Getting to the point, in the end, I left with three items- the Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter (it will truly save a bundle on tomatoes this summer), a blind cleaner, (only after figuring up how many hours I currently spend cleaning blinds by hand and what else I could use that time for), and the pack of gum, which Jason sincerely thanked me for.

In all the ways these choices affect my life "negatively" (mostly just according to others), it is gratifying and offers a great since of security going to bed each and every night knowing we are near debt free (a near payed off car and mortgage weighing on me), are invested in a growing 401K, live off of only one of our incomes, and have a nice nest egg in the money market. I asked myself all day long- Do I in fact need to seek out a psychological analysis? What is important to us? What in fact are our priorities? Where do we want our money to be going? Is Dave Ramsey crazy and are we just cult-like followers?

In the end, I concluded that I knew the answers all along- I am doing what makes me happy. Once a cheapskate always a cheapskate, even if I do squeak when I walk.

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