Monday, May 25, 2009

Snowballing


My brother told about something that happened to him last year which kinda sums up the way I am with money:

He lives in London, and decided that it would be a good idea to get a scooter to zip around the city on. So, the best place to look for a scooter is the internet, right. Nothing extravagant, just a good used scooter to get from A to the nearest Bar. So surfing, surfing surfing- he sees a scooter, but you know how the internet works: There’s always something else on the page… A slightly bigger, better bike. So he’s getting into this- why should he ride a little scooter, when a big bike is that much safer, and really not that much more expensive. Surfsurfsurf. Perhaps a really good bike, in case he wants to do holidays in Europe- cheaper than hotels- in fact, he’s be saving… Surfsurfsurf… Eventually, he finds himself on the phone to a guy named Zeke in Arizona, haggling over the price of a giant mother-of-all-motorbikes, chopped-down, souped up, airbrushed, low-rider. Zeke’s got the bike ready to go, all John needs to do is ship it to the UK. At which point he realises what’s happened: He’s gone from wanting a little scooter, to lusting after the baddest hog on the planet, all by clicking a few internet links. He never did get a motorbike.

But I do that, too. Start by saying, oh, self, you deserve a treat, maybe a magazine, you know, something small. And then window shop until I’ve convinced myself that I deserve seven books, five CDs and maybe a new phone. Just before I spend all that money, I realise I’m way over what some people naively call a budget, and can safely pare down to double what I’d originally intended to spend. (Usually qualifying expenses by saying that they were on sale- as if this somehow nullifies the actual money spent on them).

But it’s easy to escalate. Start off the evening by saying you’ll just have a wee glass of wine to relax, and end up by showing off your breakdancing moves to your dismayed friends. That’s just an example not in any way based on fact. Ok? I’m not very good at restraint. I don’t have a poker face or a poker wallet- I’m more of a yeeeeaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!! Let’s gooooooooooooo! Type. And then a Noooooooooooo!!!! What have I dooooooooooone! Type, when the thrill is gone, or the bank account is as empty as a beauty queen’s commitment to saving the world.

I’m not too unhappy with myself for this- I know that I miss out on the sober joy of saving up for things and enjoying the sense of self-discipline. I’m prone to making an idiot of myself in public, but rather that than being so self-controlled that life becomes an endless procession of predictabilities. Having a wife does help to put a catch in my thought processes, so I can’t go completely nuts, which is good, but it’s also fun to do crazy stuff once in a while. Just don’t give me a challenge- I’m too competitive for that.

4 comments:

  1. I'll get two posts with one comment.

    Very introspective, good post on divorce and how it affects people.

    And this one -- you should've been raised by my parents, who taught us that spending money is akin to a personal failure.

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  2. @Briane P: Had to break the run on bad body parts sometime... And I WAS raised by your parents, only they were mine...

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  3. I'm a lot like you... no brakes!

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  4. @angel: Neen does keep me sensible, but I'm really an impetuous person.

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