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Buy Now, Pay Later, Eventually Declare Bankruptcy
By Gloria Diaz
Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!
Fort Wayne Reader
I went through my own financial meltdown a few months ago, so I look at the bailouts and stimulus packages with some mixed feelings. I donít think CEOís should be rewarded with bailouts. Iím sorry, but if you make five million a year and get a million dollars as a ďbonus,Ē and youíre still broke, you are too dumb to deserve that kind of money.
Over the last spring and summer, I learned a few things. One, that Iím not middle class. Two, that I need to learn and accept that, and say no to middle class things. Three, never, ever assume that investing in education is a good thing and it will pay off in the long run.
I have to admit, I had a sense of entitlement too. Not like the CEOs did, but like middle class America did. It started when I was young. There I was, a college student, and Iíd shelled out $75 for a pair of Ted Lapidus sunglasses. A friend of mine, who was even more label-conscious than I was, couldnít believe that Iíd paid that much. Never mind that he was fully supported by his grandparents and was reluctant to work for a living. Hopefully, heís found a sugar daddy by now. Yeah, he was gay.
I donít know where it started. Iím stupid about money, but when I bought my Geo years ago, I knew I wanted to have a car with low payments. I didnít care how long I was paying on it, I just wanted something affordable so if I did quit my low-paying journalism job (please take note all you aspiring writers: most journalism jobs are low-paying) and went to something even less lucrative. I got a five-year loan with payments of $150 a month. It was probably the smartest thing I did. I still own that car. Itís not snazzy to look at, but it gets great mileage and it was paid off a long time ago.
But I see people nowadays who want all the conveniences of life NOW. I work with someone who shells out $500 to Verizon every month for various services. I know someone who lives in a house with 12 other people, yet has a gaming system, a big television set and about four iPods. People who are in their 40s and think they deserve the dream house. Or the expensive vehicles. Or the cable, music downloads, high-speed Internet, $4 coffees from Starbucks, convenience store foods, makeup that promises miracles, over priced clothes and shoes, video games, video game systems, designer purses, better cell phones, laptops and other stuff peddled to us 24/7 by Madison Avenue.
Iím still not smart about money, but I realized my world wouldnít end if I stopped wearing makeup on a daily basis. I donít own an iPod. Viewing a video on YouTube, even if itís only four minutes long, requires that I do something else, like write this column, while my dial-up slowly chugs the images onto my screen. I made do with a 13-inch television (no cable) until my brother and sister-in-law loaned me a 19-inch. Iím in the process of saving for a bigger, nicer television. However, I feel guilty about that. Do I really NEED a new television? Iíve got a converter box and this TV on loan. And I could use my television fund to put money towards bills that I have. So Iím still kinda on the fence about that.
So sometimes I think itís our own fault that we are in the financial mess weíre in. We donít save, so everything we want goes on a credit card. We lose our jobs. We canít make our credit card payments anymore. The credit card companies stop giving us credit. Whoops! Now what? Weíre forced to save for what we want. Whoíd have thought layaway would make a comeback?
I learned this summer what I should have learned a long time ago. I donít browse in stores anymore to check out bargains. You can save even more money if you donít look for ways to spend it. So that means trips to the dollar store are out. Trips to Target (though I love it dearly) are out, because if I go in there for one thing, I end up blowing $50. Iíve turned down the thermostat, a major concession for me. Iíve put off car repairs so I can save up the money for them.
I still eat out too much. I guess everyone has a vice.
But Iíve learned. There are things I can live without and will continue to live without. In the meantime, Iím trying to make saving money a fun thing. I havenít taken up the sport of dumpster diving or gone on an all-ramen diet, but if I do, youíll be sure to know about it. And leave those ďTake a PennyĒ cups at the registers alone. Those are mine. ALL