Money talks: I just don’t speak the language

Obviously, I am failing to see the big picture, money wise, and for this (and my being a writer – a career path which ranks slightly lower than illegal alien bus boy in terms of financial success), I’m unlikely to ever be obscenely, or even G-ratedly, rich.
Small victories. Certainly, I’ll have my petty financial victories. Re-using a postage stamp that somehow missed the cancellation mark; getting an extra quarter back from an unwitting vending machine; actually remembering to mail in one of those annoying rebate forms and ultimately receiving $5 off my next software purchase (select titles, Spanish versions only).
Yet, the kind of money that allows me to, oh say, leave my house to charity and move to my Italian villa for “the season” is likely to continue to elude me.
Reality hits home. This was painfully clear to me when I discussed a loan with a banker the other day. As he went over (and over and over and OVER) rates, points, terms, and, I don’t know, some other boring money thing, at some point all I heard was blabbity, blah, blah, blah.
We were talking about literally thousands of dollars – most of them mine (in theory anyway) and yet I was rather, well, bored, with the whole thing.
This wouldn’t be notable except that later, I met friends for coffee and lamented the high cost of a $1.30 latte. Worse, you don’t even want to get me started on the indignity of the $5 car wash.
Meanwhile, my husband and I discuss buying an automobile that will easily cost more than our first home, and I’m fine with that.
Or, I’ll dine out, spending far too much (tip excluded) on a platter of fried cheese sticks and a couple of tumblers of iced tea, but balk at spending $2 for bottled water when it clearly should cost $1 less.
Heart of the matter. Obviously, I’m oblivious to dollars while pinching dimes. For my money, Alan Greenspan needs to quit focusing on interest rates and get to the heart of consumer confidence: pork chops.
Forget pork barrel politics. I know nothing gets the gals talking more than a rise in prices at the local grocery. Forget the Fed, we just want to know we won’t have to mortgage the house to score a cantaloupe.
Fortunately, I can always drum up a little extra income by simply returning something I had previously bought.
Say I return $80 worth of drapes that turned out to be all wrong for my living room. Upon receiving my money back, I’m suddenly $80 richer!
Curiously, I can’t spend that “found” money fast enough. It’s extra income after all!
My friend’s theory. When I boasted about my coup to a friend, she generously shared her own theory.
Say she returned a $40 jacket to a store, after realizing it made her look like a hunch backed squirrel, but at the same store saw a to-die-for pair of boots for $65.
Fortunately, with her $40 credit from the jacket now burning a hole in her jacketless pocket, the boots “only” cost her $25 – clearly a “savings” of $40.
If we couple that with that “found” $40 from the return why, the boots are practically free! We aren’t sure, but we think she made money on the deal.
Spend to save. As the discount shopping pros always know: you have to spend, spend, spend in order to really save!
More importantly, as I know all too well, when it comes to my money there is one undeniable truth: less really is more.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt still thrills to money found under her sofa cushions. She welcomes reader mail c/o kseabolt@epohi.com or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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