View From The Glen

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Money, Money, Money

So here I am feeling sorry for myself because one of the cars blew up the other day and it’s going to cost four times more than I first anticipated because of damage to the motor.

Yeah, that’s a bite. And yeah, it’s going to hurt a bit.

We could buy a new one, I suppose, but one of Andrew’s endearingly eccentric traits is that he prefers old cars, and in fact in the 15 years I have known him has never had a new car. An ancient Jeep, a practically classic Bronco, a series of old VW Rabbits, a collection of vintage trucks, and now the 12 year old Golf he currently drives.

We live in the country and we need two vehicles, and either way, we pay: Either payments on a new vehicle or repairs on an old. In the end, we come out more or less at the same place. The difference is that with a new car the payments are more or less scheduled, whereas with the old car they hit you with unpredictable vigour.

I admit, the news was enough to make me a bit glum. I’m a bit of a scrooge when it comes to money. Not in terms of everyday expenses - no holds barred when it comes to food and wine, or kids’ activities for example. But in terms of saving….different matter! The first thing I do every paycheck is divert money into the savings account, and once it’s there, I hoard it. Theoretically we do have a short term savings account especially for emergencies like car breakdowns, but I don’t actually plan to spend it. This drives Andrew crazy. We are diametrically opposed in our approach to savings. I want to keep it, keep it all, and he feels if it is there, it is there to spend.

Of course, when it comes to the car, there’s little choice. So when faced with having to pay out money I’m not anticipating, I have a bit of an anxiety attack, then I take out my excel budget and retool it so see how to replace the money I have to spend and how quickly I can do this.

Then I start to throw crazy ideas around. Like We’ll stop having Pizza Hut on Friday nights, and We’ll cancel the cleaning lady, and (craziest of all) We’ll stop drinking wine. And Andrew ignores me because he knows I’m all talk – none of those things are actually going to happen.

Finally I realize (as any sane person would have right from the start) that it’s not in fact the end of the world. So we have to spend money on the car….at least we have a car. So we have to take some money out of the savings account…but we do actually have a savings account. In a period of economic uncertainty we have rewarding jobs and good incomes. When 800,000 families are forced to use foodbanks, we eat like kings every day and have two freezers stocked with every kind of food imaginable.

I started off feeling sorry for myself. That has evaporated now. We may not be rich, but we're doing okay. I am off to the grocery store tonight to pick up a week’s worth of groceries in canned and dry goods, and I’m going to take them to the local foodbank. I’m sorting out a bunch of kids’ snowsuits and boots for the Salvation Army. We’re going to put together some Christmas Boxes. And perhaps best of all, I’m going to take the opportunity to count my blessings.


Leanne Haines said...

Thanks for making me look on the bright side! We can so often focus on what we DON'T have. We are so blessed! I think I need to make my husband read this one too...

Julie said...

Great Article in Canadian Living Dec issue on this also - talking about developing social responsibility in children by example.

ablais said...

Hi! Although our car did not blow up - we gave up our 2 car household to one - before Mike took his super fab job at Woods Hole. It was an adjustment... And traded in our Nissan - for a Jetta Diesel... It was painful because we were not going to have any car payments!!! However, the transmission was going and I was tired of putting in approx. $400 to $500 dollars of gas a month... In the end, I love my new diesel and get 900 k's per tank ($45)....
Awesome post - we are truly fortunate to have the ability to buy food and get pizza (we like Lancaster pizzeria on Friday nights - however, just discovered Japanese Thai take out on Montreal Rd - love it!)