17 June 2008

Want it OR Delayed Gratification

My last job left me very, very poor. That whole commission racket? Sucks big hairy goat balls. I had less money in the last few months than I had when I was working part time and attending school full time in my early college days.

I know, talking about money, my money, your money, any money that isn't tax dollars, is kinda verboten in contemporary American society. I don't care. Much.

Hilariously, every time I've been back to Sweden since my exchange year, I've been asked how much money I'm making. I think that's funny because when I asked my best Swedish friend how she was doing after the death of her dad in 2002 when I visited in 2003, there was a collective gasp in the room and an awkward silence. Oooookay, then. Asking me how much money I make is OK, asking you how you're dealing with an incredible loss, not OK. I get away with doing things like that because I'm not Swedish, they forgive me the intrusion because they know that Yanks are a wee bit more open then they are. I had prefaced the question by saying, "I know y'all don't talk about this, but I'm going to ask anyway..." but even so, every other conversation in the room ceased, and all heads turned my way.

I felt bad for embarrassing my friend, because she didn't like being the center of attention, but I know everyone else in the room wanted to ask, and couldn't. We moved to another room for a more private conversation, and she told me she was doing OK, giving more detail that she might have otherwise given someone else. I apologized for putting her on the spot, and the subject was not brought up again during the remaining time I spent in Sweden.

When they've asked me about money, I'm never embarrassed, just usually shocked into silence for a second, until I remember that this isn't a taboo subject there. And then I need to do some quick mental math to figure out how much the figure is in kroner. I consider the folks in Sweden family; and I don't care if they know how much money I make. Besides, they answer honestly when I turn the situation around and ask them.

Suddenly, with my new job, I've got a little more of it than I have in a loooong time. (OK, we get it, you like your new job. Get over yourself already, will you? ~ editor)

And since I have more, I want to spend more. There's a bunch of bento accessories I want, since I'm using my bento box daily. Rice molds, sauce bottles, egg molds, a sushi mat, teeny-tiny cookie cutters....oh, and I'd like a few more bento boxes, just because they're so cute.

I'm really vain, and I want to have my teeth whitened. I know, I know, that's a very silly, very expensive, and very vain thing to do. But. I had a professional portrait taken recently, and was appalled, really appalled, at the color of my teeth in the picture. I asked the photographer to whiten them with his neat-o digital photography tools and he obliged me, thankfully, because I didn't want my teeth showing at the color they really are.

I want to go to a con later this year, and that costs money too.

Plus there is a credit card I want to pay off, all sorts of "stuff" I want for the house: a self-winding hose reel, because doing it manually is a pain in the ass, new lawn furniture, a new bed, a new dishwasher, a new stove, and I'd like a cleaning lady....of all of those, only the dishwasher is something that we need. Our current one is dying a slow, painful death. It works, but it takes several hours (more like 8) to run the basic wash cycle.

Oh, and the car needs new tires, the current ones are so bloody noisy and crappy. Not to mention a new car is in the future, a year or two down the road.

But I can't just go and buy all that stuff willy-nilly. I need to save, take some time to build my savings back up.

I'd be doing my part to stimulate the economy, true, if I did rush right out and buy all that stuff, but growing maturity and perhaps the fact that my parents retired recently has me thinking about needing to save for my own retirement. Going to work for a new company means that I've had to fill out all the paperwork for a 401(K) all over again, and at some point, I'll have to get my act together and get the little bit of money from the old job rolled into an IRA.

Y'know there's a good reason I'm not working for the financial industry anymore. 'Cause jeebus, that stuff is dull! Thank goodness I have someone I can rely on for that stuff; I could do it myself, yes, but I don' wanna.

Retirement savings are the ultimate in delayed gratification, no? You're working, you're working, you're saving, and day-to-day, you don't think about retiring. You don't think much about the future. Most of us don't think much beyond tomorrow, or next year. But especially for women, this is a vital issue. Not that you boy-os don't need to think about it, but in general, you make more money than we do, and in general, you don't live as long as we do. So you've got more money at the end of your working life, and you don't need it for as long. Sorry. Them's just the facts.

Are you saving enough?

1 comment:

Dawna said...

I haven't realized that financial talk is verboten. Sure, we talk about our jobs... but rarely do people put $$ signs into the conversation.

Heh. Never noticed before!