I desperately need a new cell phone. But more on that a little further below.
Nearly a year after blogging about my rejection of creeping self-consumerism, I am once again taking note of a tendency I have to parse what constitutes as being acceptable in how I spend money. I can literally feel my nose turning up each time I enter a store. There’s either reverse-snobbery judgments taking place in my frontal lobes, or I’m just careful to the nth degree about my cash flow. Although both are probably at play here, I’m afraid it’s probably dominated more with the former. I have developed some unseemly personal habits since I stopped getting a paycheck every two weeks.
This is admittedly a posture formed from living under the early confines of a fixed-income budget since I retired. It also displays a smattering of some of the same kind of defense mechanisms that my dad exhibited after something new and fabulous was introduced into the marketplace when I was a child. He always found a way to explain how what we already owned was in fact better the new thing. When relatives would needle him in good humor about the older model car he drove, he reflexively responded with a barbed, “yes, but it’s paid for.” At that point my mother would usually slide under the table.
During my working years, while never exactly a spendthrift (I ceded that ground to someone else), I nonetheless maintained a wish list of the gadgets, suits, music, etc., that I wanted. I knew I would eventually get at least some of them when an upcoming windfall came my way. I would also set aside money from my paycheck into what the Mad Men characters would later describe as an “executive account.” But unlike the men for whom those covert accounts were actually created, mine were almost always discovered in due course and then repurposed for what was ostensibly referred to at the time as marital usage. Nevertheless, I still managed to find a way to snare some of the treasures I yearned to have.
I now labor under a healthier set of self-imposed controls on my spending. My current monthly income is drawn solely from the annuity of my former employer (I am still too young to draw from Social Security or my tax sheltered IRA’s — how nice it is to still be underage for something). Gorgeous, however, is under no such constraints. Unshackled from the economic strictures put upon her during the long relationship she had prior to our marriage, she is enjoying a late renaissance of income-producing revenue, and the comparative freedom to stimulate our nation’s economy at her own discretion.
Such differing circumstances in the same household do make for some interesting moments when we step out together into the vast retail world. While we’re each respectful of the other’s view on spending, we do have uniquely different approaches. With my sincere and heartfelt apologies to admirers of the Kennedy family and/or George Bernard Shaw, I would sum up our different approaches as, “He sees things as they are on the shelf and moans ‘why buy?’ She dreams of things not yet available, and asks why not?”
Where I now look askance at nearly every buying opportunity, Gorgeous sees, well, opportunity.
Recently she came home with a table radio (seen at the top of this post) that was designated for the kitchen. She wanted something to listen to as she cooked and baked. I took one look at it and was immediately dazzled. A Teac??? Good lord, I haven’t seen a Teac since I listened to reel-to-reel tapes back in the seventies. This radio is loaded with all kinds of options including the ability to play from a wireless device with Bluetooth connectivity. To say I was impressed is an understatement. I would go so far to admit that I’m even jealous of the purchase — and yet no one is stopping me from being able to use it myself. I helped with setting it up, and then slinked back into my home office to allow her alone time with this sensational new toy.
Lest I appear sanctimonious and ungrateful, your humble blogger should reveal that sitting next to me as I type this post, rests a renewal notice for our Sirius-XM satellite subscription. And in front of me on this same desk is a wonderful 1960’s vintage clock radio — the exact same model I had as a teenager – which I bought last year on eBay. It would appear that I have more than I need, and probably more than I actually want. In addition to cable TV and Internet, I’d say we are very fortunate. Wants and needs? Puh-leeze.
Which brings us back to the need for a new cell phone. My four-year old iPhone 4 is beginning to show its age. Text messages are not always being sent or received, phone calls have been dropping with alarming frequency, apps don’t always load, and to add insult to injury, Gorgeous sits with her impressive 6 Plus model and happily uses it while encountering none of these same issues. Somehow “vintage” doesn’t assign the same kind of luster when it comes to a smartphone. It’s time to open up that moldy wallet and update to better technology.
As of this month, I actually began receiving a long-awaited supplement to my annuity. It was due once I hit the actual calendar date of my full retirement eligibility last December, but I had to wait five months for the federal government (my former employer) to get its act together. There is now thankfully slightly more money at my disposal. Things that I have been putting off buying for the last year can now possibly see the light of day.
I still can’t justify the iPad I’d like to have, but a good boy who behaves just might find one under his pillow some morning, courtesy of the Apple fairy.
Until next time…