Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Can't Explain It. I Just Have to Spend It!

I love my readers, and I especially love it when they comment on some of my dumber statements.

If you've read the comments to my April Update, then you've met Mike. Mike, politely but emphatically, thinks I'm making a mistake spending a lot of money on my sister's birthday gifts when that money could better be spent reducing my considerable debts. My woefully inadequate response is that "I can't explain it, but I do have to do this." Mike's heard that one before and he's not buying it.

Let's get one thing straight: Mike is right and Grace is wrong.

That doesn't mean I'm not going to spend the money on my sister, because I am. But he's right that I shouldn't.

By way of apology, I used to have a much longer lists of things I 'had' to have or money I 'had' to spend. I had to have expanded cable--how else to watch new movies and catch every chapter of "Game of Thrones?" I had to buy books--reading is important when I commute by bus, and then, there's my Kindle Fire that my sister gave me for Christmas. I had to buy coffee and pastries every morning--it set the pace for the rest of my day.

Over time, I have managed to reduce most of these 'have to haves.' The public library solves a lot of the problems. They have DVD's and if I can't get the new movie fast enough through them, there's always Redbox. The library has the whole first season of "Game of Thrones" and it's more fun to watch all the episodes back-to-back, The library even has books for my kindle. Buying coffee beans and bringing coffee to the office has saved me a bundle, and who knew that Toaster Strudel travels just fine in a briefcase, especially when the office kitchen has a toaster? It's not free but it's a lot cheaper than the $4.25 a morning I used to spend.

I find that working around a 'want' is easier for me than giving something up completely.

I used to have an annual pass to my city's art museum. These days, I still see all the exhibits, but I do it the first weekend of each month when I can flash my Bank of America checking account and get in for free.

I still love to eat out, but I've discovered Happy Hour can substitute for dinner and gives me access to the great dishes my foodie city is known for. (Then there are the food carts that are all over this city, including across the street from my office. A fair number of chefs here have started with a food cart.)

My sister is a different kind of problem. I adore her, though it was not always that way. When we were growing up, she was the pretty, popular kid while I was the smart bookworm. She went to MY senior prom while I stayed home and cried. But growing up helps a lot of relationships and it certainly helped ours. She is my best friend even though she lives on the East Coast and I'm here on the West Coast. We have a tradition of extravagant gifts to each other on birthdays and at Christmas. I have definitely cut back on my level of extravagance, but I'm not willing to eliminate it.

And no, I can't really explain it.

But there it is!



19 comments:

Early Retiree Tamara said...

Grace,

This is a WONDERFUL post! I love that you just shared your many successes, and where your journey is yet to take you.

In every situation there are learning moments for all involved. It sounds like both you and Mike were positively impacted by your exchange, which as humans is about all we can hope for.

Thank you again for being so open about sharing your journey in this blog.

Juhli said...

Have you tried talking to your sister about creating a new tradition that shows equally well how much you love each other? It is worth a try and some creative thinking. I doubt she would want you to spend your retirement money on a gift you can't really afford if she knew that was the case.

Florence said...

I find it hard to imagine that you'll come to the end of your life and wish that you'd shared with your sister less.

Roberta said...

You are very blessed to have such a wonderful relationship with your sibling. We don't all enjoy that.

nicoleandmaggie said...

It would be great if you could find a work-around that was just as thoughtful (or more so) but less expensive!

I did like the Kindle solution the other Christmas.

Mark said...

A good therapist could help you explain why you feel compelled to show "love" through needless extravagance. But most folks don't want to dig that deep.

Maureen said...

Grace it is what it is, so don't fight it or it will make you unhappy.
My Sister and I had some hiccups over The Restaurant, but she is my bff and will be forever..

Sharon said...

Emotional spending...the killer...

I do it all.the.time. If you figure out how to get around it, let ME know. I am getting a bit better though.

Enjoy shopping for your sister...as long as you are not going further into debt, why sweat it?

nicoleandmaggie said...

Maybe try some more crowd-sourcing of ideas for each holiday. (What else is a blog for if not to help get ideas?)

I mean, I know she has expensive tastes and likes clothing from certain shops, but I bet there's more to her personality than that and with a lot of creative minds helping nudge you, some of that expense can be exchanged with thoughtfulness and perfection of gift.

Also I can steal ideas for my little sister who also makes obscene amounts of money.

Early Retiree Tamara said...

Here's something for us all to think about . . . what is the best gift we could receive from, say our children?

For myself, that would be time with them, hands down, followed by an inexpensive gift that clearly came with much thought behind it. As an example, during her very lean financial years, one of my daughters made my husband and I custom CD's of music she'd downloaded for free that she thought we would enjoy during our respective workouts. I know it took her a long time to put the CD's together, and because of that I treasured the gift, and felt the love that came along with it every time I picked up the CD. And clearly still remember the gift to this day . . . how many gifts can we say that about?

The last thing I would want, ever, is for either of them to spend money they didn't have on us.

priskill said...

Totally enjoyed this post and salute your paring of "Have to haves." Since you make such great progress, you are entitled, I think, to do the big spending you want for your sister so long as you are comfortably in your budget. Love some of the ideas bandied about here -- and, yes, there are other solutions. But you sound happy and okay about this, and are mindful in your choice, so there is no right or wrong. Thanks for sharing this . . .

Diane C said...

MY sister is undergoing chemo right now, and I would buy her anything, budget be damned. Love doesn't have to be rational. Reasonable helps, but who better to splurge on (reasonably) than those you love? I'm with you Grace. You've made awesome progress. The fact that your "splurge" is for someone else puts you miles ahead of most spenders.

DeeDee said...

I think that a budget that does not leave room for giving is a budget that is not well thought out.
Generosity is part of the human experience, and while it need not cost a fortune, it is still part of who and what we are. Part of the point of your budgeting (aside from debt reduction) is for you to be able to be generous in a more responsible way than you were in the past. I think you are doing great!
DeeDee
www.KidNeedsAKidney.blogspot.com

Tessie said...

Mike is right, but so is Grace. I know where you're coming from because I love to buy my family gifts. It's in the budget, so what the hay (hey?). True, I'm not in debt, but even more true, I would still do it even if I were. I would just do what you do - make room in other spending areas to accommodate my love of gift-giving.

Mutant Supermodel said...

I have so many things I can't explain. But I do like the suggestions your readers are giving. Free your mind and the rest will follow?

Funny I was thinking the other day about all the stuff I've cut back on myself. It's amazing and scary.

Jessie said...

Grace, I agree with you that this is one of those things to accept and enjoy, even if it's not the "right" or most financially sound thing to do. I fought my partner for years on the pricey birthday gifts she would buy for me. She's a generous person, works hard, and that's one thing she wants to do. This year was the first that I enjoyed her gift to me without stressing over the money spent. I wish I had started sooner.

SB @ One Cent at a Time said...

We should be able to balance between money and happiness and use money on activities which can give maximum happiness. No point in saving $200 on a gift to pay off some debt when entire year you'll repent the decision.

Jane said...

You don't have a lot of extravagances in your life and if you had to have just one then your sister is a good choice. If it makes you happy, and it so obviously does, then there's your answer. And anyways, whose money is it?

Susie Q said...

As I've just found your blog - I'm enjoying your posts! I like this post, too. My family always laughs at me because I usually try to find a "thrifted" item along with some small new item. I get more giddy about the "thrifted item" and they usually LOVE it, too! My thinking is, "if it's good enough for me, it's good enough for you!" (and BTW, you'd be amazed at the number of brand spanking new things I find, with the tags still on them!) So that's how my gift exchanges go. And I'm looking all year for retail sales for the "new" item. Gives us all a good laugh and everyone is always wanting to know "What'd you get from Susie?"