Debt Now – Pay Later

Some people are forced to go into debt…by health or family crises. By disasters. By any number of disturbing events in the universe. This column is not for them.

It is for the people who are daily being bombarded by the debt industry…the complex mechanism that wishes to enslave you and to wring as much money out of you as it can before you die. In many cases if you take refuge in the grave it will succeed in squeezing your family to get more money…and you will not be able to stop them.

It is for the people who have a vague notion that they are missing out on something if they do not have the shiny new toy in the KB HiFi catalogue – or the new telephone from the Orange store – or the furniture from the giant warehouse. And who are tempted into having now with the idea of paying later.

In some cases the temptation contains a phrase that tells you there is no payment required for six months – or no interest charged for a year. Be sure that this is not altruism or pity for you – the finance companies and the stores will extract the full measure in time. And in the case of some deals that full measure can be payment two or four times the initial price.

The time to avoid this is at the start. By all means read the advertising flyer before you ball it up and start the chip heater with it. But scrunch it all the same. Whenever you are looking at luxury goods you are looking at a wound – not a bandage. If you did not need them before your read the flyer, you do not need them after you’ve read it either. Be happy with the warm water from the chip heater.

No debt is good and having no debt is better. The people who tell you that you need to enter into it to qualify for more of it are the moral equivalent of dynamiters.

Suppose You Were Worth A Million Dollars

If you were me you’d be overjoyed. If you were a billionaire you’d be furious.

That’s what having money does to you.

I’ll amend that statement – that’s what having too much money does to you. Whether it is your own or someone else’s, the stuff will eat into your soul and leave holes. Then other things come and live in those holes, and it is darned hard to get them out.

The trick is having just the right amount. Not too little – so that you are pinched and sad and sick – nor too much so that you are arrogant, anxious, and aggressive. Just enough to eat well, play well, and sleep well. If you get it by working well, so much the better.

If you get it by desperate drudgery, criminality, or vile practices, so much the worse. These will take their toll and eventually the doors to the happier parts of life will close.

I think I have the right amount at present. I can do what I want to do as long as I do not want to do expensive things too often. And I am fortunate in that I honestly don’t want to do expensive things. Though I would like roast beef for dinner.

 

The Utter Joy Of Cheap

Have you always believed that you deserve the best? That the best is the only thing that you should be offered? That you define yourself by the goods and services that you command? Perhaps you are right…after all, you deserve to be compensated for the constant danger in which you live.

Danger?

Yes, danger. The danger that you will perceive some flaw in your goods and services – or that you will see someone else getting more and better than you. If you must always be first, you fear second.

Well, I have passed through that myself. Perhaps I didn’t articulate the words exactly, but I had them inside me somewhere. And they stopped me from appreciating what I had and what I experienced for a long time. No more.

I’ve discovered the joy of cheap. Realistically looking at my life to come, I see it is going to be shorter than the bit already passed – though I would not welcome too short an interval. I’m now at a point where I may indeed get a lifetime of use out of something and it need not be made of cast iron and hickory wood to do it. Plastic might very well be fine. And I need not spend over the odds either – economy models of things fulfil the same functions.

Best of all, when some new product is touted or some hitherto un-needed need is trumpeted, I can frequently say ” Shoot, I got one of them already. “. I may indeed, and it might even be better than the new designer model with the red stripe on one panel and the fake carbon fibre covering.

I must be the advertiser’s nightmare.

The Sheer Joy Of Repair

I am always dismayed when I see something I own that is breaking down. Whether it is clothing, the car, tools and furniture, or the house itself, there is sense of loss to it all.

And yet – then there is a sometimes a spark of happiness to be found:

a. If the thing that is breaking or broken was something that was never used and was just being kept for the sake of appearances, the loss is a great chance to be free.

b. If life continues as comfortably and calmly as before it tells you that whatever it was was superfluous.

c. If you can get the thing repaired economically, you show frugal common sense.

d. If you can repair it yourself, you are Daniel Boone standing on a mountain top – king of all you survey.

Today it was the covering of my iPad – a magnetic case that protects the thing and shuts it off automatically upon closing. My pad keeps a charge far longer this way. It had split the pressed-leather covering away from the framework. Time to go get a new one from Apple…for $ 79.00…

Or time to get out the Weldbond PVA glue, two bits of foamcore board and some clothes pegs as clamps. Glue, clamp, set in the sun to dry. And an hour later pocket a virtual $ 79.00 toward my holiday trip.

On other days it has been shoes, tables, tents and awnings, worn shop tools, and a myriad of broken, fixable items that have been put back into service. Every day after a repair is a day in which the goods pay you – not the other way around.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If it is, do.

You Want To Save The World? Part Two

Okay, in Part One we got you to put a decent house in your neighbourhood and to get on in peace with the neighbours. We got you to save it, instead of trashing it for novelty. So far so good.

Now we get you to look at the things inside that dwelling…to see if they should be there or not. Start in the living room. Is it a room you live in? Or is it an isolated place that never sees visitors? Is it crammed with furniture that is never used? Have you taken to preserving it under clear plastic like a cake at a bake sale? Keep this image in mind and walk into the kitchen.

Is it clean? Is it roomy? Does it have enough space to cut up food and enough oven and stove to cook it? Is there cleaning room? If it does, you are succeeding…if it does not you are not succeeding yet, but there are many firms that can help you…

The dining room? A table, chairs, and a sideboard? Lighting? Cutlery and a tablecloth? You can eat three squares a day in there and entertain as well. No need for a breakfast nook, bar, or any other useless division of space.

Family room? Why? You have a perfectly good living room. The children are not well-behaved enough? And you need an extra room in which they can practice this behaviour? How much room would you require to teach them to be pleasant and well-behaved?

Bedroom? Is there room for  bed with room enough for you? Don’t laugh, because it may eventually involve a number higher than one. If you have cats and dogs the number may get to double digits. Do you have a clothes closet to hang your old rags in? Or is the Salvos bin a better idea?

Do you need a second bathroom? I say you might, if there is more than one of you in the house. It need not be more than a cubicle with pooper and shower, but the space you dedicate to it will pay off handsomely some day. If there is no room, spend big on air fresheners.

And is there a storage room? A big one. Big enough to take all the stuff you just can’t bear to live with nor to live without. Stuff that somehow comforts you by being stored invisibly. If you are of stern character and wise mien you will not need this room, but you’re reading this post so we need not go into that.

How has this all saved the world? Well, if you have furnished your nest wisely you need not continue to redo it every three months. The flat-pack shop will become unfamiliar territory, and you need not revise your taste every time a flyer is pushed into your letter box. It may cause consternation in the furnishing trade, but you will be putting less pressure on the rest of the planet.

 

 

 

The Cheap Shoe Shop – Retail Clothing Part Two

Looks down. Notes what is on the feet at the present. Shudders…

There is a cheap shoe store in each of our local shopping centres – and the centres are not down-market venues. They host grocery stores, cinemas, large retail outlets, and some boutique stores, They’re not the ritziest in the town, but they’re also not the slums.

Needing new sandals ( I wear through leather and artificial-leather sandals pretty smartly. If I don’t hole them, I give them such a bacterial overload that you cannot bear to have them in the clothes closet…) I determined to spend less and try these shops. The experiment is ongoing, but the flip-flop rubber thong sandals are giving value for money so far. They are a dangerous thing to wear if you are unsteady on your feet – the sandals turn under the foot and jerk you sideways. Next version will be the enclosed sandal version and we’ll see whether that works.

The feature I most appreciate in these shops – all selling Chinese-made goods – is that they just rack them up on the shelves and let you get on with it to make your own mind up. The goods are set out in sizes and you can see the same style in several fittings by just walking down the racks. You choose a size section and look for yourself. There are seats to plop onto when you want to try something on. Wear socks and just sift through the range.

I do not decry sales knowledgable sales staff – I was one of them once myself – and for goods that have a decided technical turn like computers, electronics, and helicopters I want all the time and attention I can get. I’ll pay for it if it steers me in the right direction. But I don’t need someone to hover over my feet.

 

 

The True Christmas Of Spirit

No, it’s not dyslexia kicking in. It’s what I meant to write.

Christmas, we are told, is a season of renewal and promise and rebirth and blessed peace. Sounds good, but the rebirthing you can keep. I’ve seen what the house looked like for the next three years after a regular birth and I don’t really want to see that again. And the smell…

But renewal is fine, as long as you do not ask me to renew marriage vows or coronary arteries again. I’ll stick with the way things are at present. They would both be occasions for a party, but guess who would end up paying for it…

Promises – well we can have them in the pallet-load out of Parliament House. Fresh , new, implausible ones or old, tired, cynical ones. Or an allsorts mixture of the two. They actually keep very well on a shelf.

And blessed peace. Well, I have no grandchildren, so there is not quite the intensity of celebration that others suffer…but I do really appreciate it when the kids go off to the other rellies for family affairs and the wife and I are left to our own, quiet, devices here at home. We do not do much, but we do it in contentment.

Well, if we are to have any of these ingredients they must act upon our spirit. Here’s hoping they will raise it, rather than lower it. So far the several-weeks-before-New Year’s resolution has been adhered to, and in the face of temptation. I am lucky – I am allowed to eat and drink, unlike a friend who has recently been put on a food and drink diet…just before Christmas. All I have to do is be financially responsible.

I’ll be fine as long as the pocket money holds out…Then I will have to go out and pick more pockets.

Have a Merry Christmas anyway, diet, budget, or otherwise.