03 July 2013

We got an annual beach pass and it was well worth it!

As a requirement of the boys' co-op preschool, I once had to sit through an entire lecture on children and money management.  The speaker was a huge proponent of allowance as a living lesson and most of the lecture was occupied by discussion thereof.

None of the speaker's words resonated with me.  At all.  In fact, they inflamed me.

I grew up without a weekly allowance and, by the time I was in high school, was instead given money any time that I needed, or simply wanted, it.  You'd think all this liberal throwing about of random cash would have made me a financially irresponsible adult prone to frivolous spending.  I admit that when it comes to the boys, I spend more than is absolutely necessary.  But even so, I still live FAR below my means.  In general, I'm loath to part with my money!  But how can this be if I never practiced balancing my own budgets as child?

First, I attribute this frugality to my personality.  There are people who look both ways before crossing and there are those would be readily and happily dart into traffic.  When it comes to spending (and street crossings), I'm a hemmer and a hawer, to a fault.  The vacillations drive James batty because it could be months of neurotic consideration before I plunk down money for a specific purchase.  My food processor, which I love and use regularly, took years of consideration.  And it was well under $100 at the time of purchase. 

Second, I am a refugee.  Well, that whole escape in the middle of the night risking life and limb thing only happened once in my life but its effects still linger.  Things don't matter so much if you have to flee with only the shirt on your back.  And how could I live without savings anyhow?  I mean, what if I have to pay for covert passage out of the country or bribe government officials to release my falsely accused family members?  Seriously.  These are thoughts that occupy me, thoughts that terrorize me.

Finally, my mother is the queen of penny pinching.  Actually, both my parents are extremely conservative about their spending...except, of course, when it comes to me (see the multigenerational pattern of weakness when it comes to offspring?).  I imagine that those children who are put on an allowance would still have a terrible time trying to control themselves as adults if they grew up watching parents who were up to their ears in debt because they lived above their means.  But I know there's a downside to this observational learning.  My poor A1, who has had to repeatedly witness  the aforementioned hemming and hawing, is constantly asking how much I've paid for items and services.  He sort of had a fit when I told him how much the annual pass to State Parks was.  But trust me, it took an inordinate amount of careful consideration before I crossed that street.

But now, check us out, we're hanging at a deserted So Cal beach in the middle of summer!


Who me?  Obsessed about going more than 13 times this calendar year so as to make up the cost if we had paid for individual day passes?  Yes.  Guilty as charged.

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