Tuesday, June 9, 2015

On money

I need a new computer, because the one I'm typing this on is seven years old and only gets an internet connection if I position it at an odd angle on my desk and then repeatedly turn the wireless on and off until the gods of wi-fi grace me for ten or fifteen minutes, at which point I have to reposition and restart the process.

Recent photo of the author
Why do I not just buy a new computer?  Because I'm cheap as hell, and because I still haven't quite gotten used to living off a reasonable paycheck, and because I hate spending money.  I'm like those grandparently types who grew up during the Depression and freak out when you throw away bits of unused soap.  I've always been miserly, but due to both age and that one time I lived off of my savings for four years I now do things like use the same sheet of paper two weeks in a row for my grocery lists - front one week and back the next.  I do this with sheets from pads I snatch up at hotels or that come in the mail free from charities (i.e., I hoard paper I don't even pay for).  I was at a work function last Friday where there were free pens, and I grabbed one of each color, which prompted a coworker to say, "Oh, you're taking one of each?"  And I was all like, "Yeah, I love pens!", which is true, but not as true as my love of not paying for pens.

A few weeks ago, my brother and I happened to be flying out of the Memphis airport at the same time, so I drove us and parked in (of course) economy parking.  My parking fee was going to be reimbursed as I was flying out on a business trip, but like that matters because see paragraph above about shopping lists.  Anyway, it was a long trek to the terminal, and John, my brother, noted, "This is the difference between you and me.  You think it's worth the walk to not have to pay $5 extra a day, and I think it's worth the extra $5 not to have to walk." I really didn't see why he was complaining, as his suitcase was on wheels and mine was on a shoulder strap that had almost sawed my arm clean off by the time we got to security, but whatever. While we were waiting in line, he turned around and half-heartedly said, "Oh, I guess should have carried that for you."

I'm pretty sure he was trying to make a point there, but it was lost on me, my numb and useless arm well worth the $15 of someone else's money I'd be saving over the course of my trip.

The internet, the last time I bought a computer
When I do need to make a big purchase though, I shell out and do it right, as I did when I bought this computer, thus it lasting for seven years.  And I'll bet I could make it stretch a little longer - like maybe three more years or so - but I also realize that, as John demonstrated, everyone has a point at which they're willing to pay for convenience, and while I haven't reached that point for parking, I'm drawing nigh on the computing equivalent. The vaguely sick sound that has replaced the zippy startup noise, the 10.2 hours it takes for Photoshop to load, the way my backup drive is completely full, and the way most programs no longer update because the operating system is too old are all signs that I may (may) need to start steeling myself soon to invest in some new technology.

Having not bought a computer since the Bush administration, I'm walking into a marketplace that is in turns fascinating and disorienting.  You don't see a lot of CD drives these days, and your Adobe products now all come in monthly subscription form (really monetarily inconvenient for someone who prefers stretching out her licenses for the better part of a decade), and don't even get me started on laptop screens skewing smaller while desktop screens are now larger than my television (well, not really, but only because my television is older than my computer).

Change - and the removal of money from my all-too-modest coffers - is being forced upon me, and I do not like it one bit.  Not one bit, my friends!  But alas, this appears to be the price we must pay for living in the modern world.  When I take the plunge, I will let you know...and in the meantime, if you'll excuse me, I have some soap slivers that are in need of rescuing.

Miser photo from WSJ.com.


  1. We are completely on two ends of the scale here ...

    I buy aaaaaalll the damn time - if i have the money or not.

    a litte story of 24hrs of age: me watching telly seeing advertisement for these automatic face washing brushes. then thinking: yeah with my skin that would be a good idea and probaby gets rid of the make up and all really well. than my reasoning set in, thinking: didnt you bought something like that a couple month ago. so I checked and it turns out i have something like that - but the brush is something bigger as it is supposed to be used on the body not on the face. so anyway my reasoning said why not using it on the face...who cares - the brush is not to harsh on the skin. and my skin felt good after i tried this morning (weird or - since i wanted to use it for getting rid of make up...anyhow) soooooooooo whilst the one i have is not the optimum it can well be used for the face.. but in the back of my head my perfectionist is nagging me on, telling me to buy a damn face bush for only 180 euro 0.o

    Annie S

    1. btw sorry for grammar and spelling mistakes - just a little extra from me x-)

    2. Ahhh, Annie, you're right - we could not possibly be any more different on this one, ha! I flinched in pain when I read the price at the end of your comment. :D I think your take on money is much more common than mine. I get made fun of quite a bit (not that I care!)! :)

    3. I wished I was much closer on your side tho... I work on being less of a big spender.


  2. Love this! Oh, the arguments Jonathan and I have over buying new technology :). You are the most responsible person I know when it comes to finances, so I'm sure you will be awesome at buying a new computer. Jonathan built a computer over Christmas break (his way of saving money on all the bells and whistles) so I'm sure he'd love to talk shop.

    - Meg

    1. I'm a day late responding, but I finally ordered my new computer a few hours before you commented! The final straw came when I wanted to write something, but the thought of having to put up with the quirks of getting everything to work to do it halted my creative drive. Ergo, the money was spent. :) By mid-week, I'll (hopefully) be living in a better world!

      Unrelated, I'm going to email you tomorrow!! Hope all is well in your world! :D