by Rhonda Jones
Everyone says they need to save money, but few people really know where most of the leakage in their wallet occurs. Sometimes it comes from just being too freaking nice. People who buy things from acquaintances so they won’t hurt their feelings, people who buy things from strange little girls because the Nice People’s Manual says they should, and people who equate spending money on someone to loving them all wind up with deadly hemorrhages in their wallet.
You must, however, be strong. Don’t spend money on someone just because they want you to. Everyone–television salesmen and best friends alike–is after your hard-earned money. It is your job to keep them at bay. Getting in touch with your inner Scrooge can help you do that.
- Don’t give at the office. When a coworker approaches you with a catalog full of things you don’t need that her child is selling, Run The Other Way. Seriously. Do not buy that stuff. If you absolutely must give away your money, fit a donations column into your budget. Then make sure you avoid everyone with a catalog or brochure and puppy dog eyes.
- Avoid Girl Scouts at all costs. Especially in February when they’re hawking cookies. They’re cute but they want to put their sticky little-kid fingers into your wallet. And they may want to eat your brain as well. Jury’s still out on that one.
- Cancel Christmas. Christmas presents are nice, as long as you are getting things you can afford for people you want to give them too, not signing up for a second mortgage so you can try to avoid being on Aunt Thelma’s List of People Who Don’t Mortgage Their Homes To Buy Me Gifts List. When it’s time to sign up for a gift list in the office, call in sick. Or dead. Or drunk. Or create a religion that prohibits gift-buying.
- Beware of other special-day gifts. Granted, it’s a little bit weird to show up at a bridal shower without a gift in hand. Get something good–not something you have to mortgage the house for, just something useful–for any friends who are having babies or getting married or having birthdays. For friends. People allowed into your inner sanctum. These people generally know things about you you’d rather pretend had never happened, so you may need to keep them quiet by getting them Good Friend Gifts. But, for crying out loud, don’t spend a bunch of money on gifts for people you barely know.
- Don’t spend a bunch of money on gifts for people you know really well, either. If you’re constantly spending money on your wife or girlfriend because she whines like a stuck kitten if you don’t, either get another partner or put this one on a serious spending diet. Explain things to her and then stick to your decision. This goes for mothers, fathers, cousins, children, hamsters and anyone else who regularly raids your pocket. If you need to purchase a set of balls first, consider it money well spent.
None of this means that you have to suddenly become a selfish, no-gift-giving, soulless individual. You can work up to that gradually. Scrooge may have had a lot of issues, but one thing he didn’t have was a second mortgage on the house.
Eleven years’ alternative journalism. Freelancing in Europe. Vampires. Need I say more? Read Rhonda’s writing blog, One Writer’s Ridiculously Glamorous Life, at http://silkynightmares.blogspot.com.