Monday, May 17, 2010

A Discretionary Tale

Today's topic: Money. Money that we spend on ourselves. Money that is burning a hole in our chinos and gets spent on something we maybe really don't need per se but rather on something we want.

Some call it "discretionary spending."

Here's how it works in my house:

1) I get paid.
2) I buy what I want.
3) And then pay the bills.

I kid. But only a little bit.

I'll readily admit, right up front, that spending more than I should on the little luxuries of life is part and parcel of being me.

I blame a bunch of people for this.

My grandmother used to give me some folding money and then tell me to spend it on whatever I wanted. If I considered buying something for someone else, or getting something I needed, like new underwear, she'd have a Guernsey. Birthday or Christmas money that wasn't spent on baseball cards or Hot Wheels cars or a new Atari game was money put to no good use at all. Seldom, unfortunately, did I see the other side of the coin (pun intended) where she and grandpa saved their money, paid their debts, and lived financially-responsible lives.

Also my dad. He sent me to do some real work as soon as it was legal, and then often "borrowed" money from me come payday if he needed it. For what, I never knew. I only knew that the money I earned wasn't always going in my pocket. To spent however I wanted. So when I had some money left over? You guessed it. I spent it on whatever I wanted. Movies. Fast food. LPs. And I never sat any aside because I didn't want to have to eventually give it up to The Man. Never mind the fact that the money he "borrowed" probably went to put food down my gullet and clothes on my ample backside.

(I blame them for being fat most of my life as well.)

Not much has changed. I make the money now. I do clothe and feed my children when they've been good, but mostly I just spend it.

Video games. CDs. New shoes. (I have more pairs of shoes than my wife.)

Speaking of my wife. She is the frugal one. Which is why we have a joint checking account. She doesn't work. (For money, anyway. Truth be told, she works way harder than I do!) Hasn't since the oldest boy was born. It was a decision we made long ago and we don't regret a moment of these past 15-or-so years. It hasn't been easy. We aren't keeping up with the Joneses. But we've never wanted to live that way. She scrapbooks for fun, and loves to read, so together we see that her playtime is stocked with the stuff she needs. And occasionally we splurge for a want or three. Soon we will be springing for her to take a Master Gardener class through the local university extension office. She wants to do this, so we'll see that it happens.

Where am I going with this tale? I don't know, really. I could suck my thumb and wax all melancholy about how we don't have the huge nest egg or seeded rainy day fund that most of you probably have set aside. Or how we don't drive the fancy cars with the GPS and the doohickeys that tell when you're about to hit something when you're backing up. Or how we've never been to the Poconos or Disney Whatever. Nope. I won't go there. Instead, we have our habits and hobbies and hangups, and we're doing alright, thank you very much.

And if, one day, the bottom falls out? Then I'll just look for someone else to blame . . .


Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

I'm an emotional spender, so basically the worst kind. I have spent many years re-training myself, and I still find myself wanting to spend when I shouldn't or because I'm there and it's convenient.

My hubs just doesn't spend money. He's not a spender. Except if he needs to spend on his hobbies and the money grows on trees. We are slowly finding a happy medium thanks to our good friend Dave Ramsey :)

Anonymous said...

Funny thing about this post? I almost deleted it last night. It was originally written as part of a two-day discussion on spending habits and expensive hobbies. One side of the coin was presented a week or so ago, so I figured this topic was over and done. Then I wake up this morning and find this posted.

Figuring this probably wouldn't see the light of day here at RWVM, I wrote it rather quickly, and with my tongue firmly planted. While the circumstances of my upbringing are mine to unravel and sort through, it has never behooved me to blame others for my shortcomings. I make decisions, and I live with the consequences. Or rather, it seems, I make decisions and OTHERS live with the consequences. And this is so often the case.

Ask my family, and they'll say that we are no better or worse off than most people. In fact, we may share a loving bond that is missing from many families where money - the constant making, hoarding and spending of it - is the utmost priority.

Do we spend more than we should on the FUN things? Eat out a few too many times? Perhaps. But we do it together, and we realize every day just how fortunate we are . . .

(Shelle: I used to work for a Christian radio station that aired Dave Ramsey every afternoon. Heard much of what he had to say, and he is a very smart man. He's taken his lumps and come out very much on top. But something about him just rubs me the wrong way, and I can't put my finger on it . . . )

Keith Wilcox said...

I Don't save money either. But, with the way the economy is going maybe that's not such a bad thing, right. If all our money becomes worthless in a few years then I'll be the lucky one who spent it while the spending was good. That's me looking on the bright side. HA

Anonymous said...

It really is sad that so many live that way. I don't see how people can be comfortable like that. The only debt we have is the house and it drives me insane to owe that. That money could be being saved the way I see it. People should save around 50% of their take home.

The number one contributor to the sorry assed state of Americans for sure (and I'm sure in many other countries) is the government. Anyone who looks at it will clearly see that the people of this country are so weak, ill prepared and unable to attend to their own is the fault of the entitlement environment put forth by the government and the liberals. Some people check the "not smart or strong enough" box at the ballot because, well they aren't and they desire the government to attend to them and their families. Social security, Uni-dismal health care, medi-care, unemployment, etc. It is sad that people see these things as okay. Very very sad.

I do believe TysD is on something though, your kids learn by watching you, what they see they do it seems. If we can teach our kids personal responsibility and to defer gratification we can in a generation or so take back ownership of our own personal decisions and run the liberals back to Greece, good job Greek Libs! Don't look back we are running as fast as we can to catch you!

good post.

Anjeny said...

Hey Tys..I blame you for the hole burning in my chinos...ahahah.

I think it's a good thing that your wife is frugal, you need the balance. My biggest weakness is that I can't seem to stop myself from spending money on my little girl..every time I step inside a store, doesn't matter if I was buying grocery or something else, I usually ended up spending fifty dollars or more on just my little girl and that was not even in the budget for my spending that day...crazy, I know but I can't seem to help myself.

Great post...thanks for sharing.

T said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
T said...

I think Tysdaddy is really just my ManOfTheHouse in disguise...

maybe not... but aside from the gardening it all fits (even down to our eldest sons...)

Of course, I have to admit that I'm learning to spend a little more freely... but my mother in law still felt the need to include this note with her last birthday check for me "for T, to be used ONLY on herself"...

oops, I think I bought dinner with it for the family :(

SciFi Dad said...

We save as much as we can, but we also make sure to have some fun.

Like Sage, I hate debt. All we owe on is our house and one of the cars (which I'm counting down until it's paid off next Sept). I cannot imagine living with credit card debt or line of credit debt. Too stressful.

Dana said...

My grandmother did EXACTLY the same thing. Did she screw up my thinking on money? I don't know but I did appreciate your sharing your thoughts on the confusing topic.

ps. Love the lightsaber graphic in your header. I live for that stuff:)


heelsnstocking said...

I keep a small amount for me, my treat money, I hide some money away as hubby cant save and if he knows we have savings he spends it. We owe too much but he has been in and out of jobs and ran up huge credit card bills for me to pick up. as for blame, there is no point it only confuses people from fixing things. Keep moving forward i say.

Heels x

Vodka Logic said...

I don't know if it is emotional spending [it is according to a counselor I no longer go to] or just I like to spoil myself or I'm selfish..probably some of all but I like to buy things. For the kids too..

Coach and I are on a first name basis.