Friday, December 11, 2009

Money, Money

Before I was diagnosed, I used to check out the retirement calculators on various websites to determine how long my money would last. I was very concerned when they kept coming up with the age of 83. The tanking of the stock market didn’t help things. After I received my news about my cancer, I started trying to determine how to distribute my money.

Now I am in a kind of limbo, and feel like I’ve been spending a lot of money on all sorts of stuff: clothes, pocketbooks (costing way more than I would normally spend), trips, dining out. There is a part of me that says, might as well enjoy it, and if this is what makes you happy, then just do it! Like I said before, I am not one to try sky-diving, but spending comes very easily for me.

Each time I had a major crisis in my life, it seems I comforted myself by making a major, if not somewhat frivolous, purchase. When Doug passed I bought a fur jacket and a rather expensive print at a fundraising auction. I justified the purchases by saying the proceeds were going to charity. I don’t regret the jacket, and the print I can visit in Lauren’s house. When I was diagnosed in 2004, I bought a gold necklace – which I bought during a great sale at Wanamaker’s department store when it was closing, and a flat screen TV. Later I went and had necklaces made for me and Lauren at a custom jeweler in Philadelphia. But then I wanted Lauren to have something special for her 30th birthday. These expenses were all out of the realm of what I would spend on anything outside something we needed for the house. This is the extent of my “good” jewelry collection. I don’t have diamonds – at least not any you can see from a distance.

You see, I was the Queen of Thrift. Growing up, we were provided with all the basics. If I wanted anything cool I would have to buy it myself. So, I’ve been working since I was about 12 – not counting my stint as a bicycling produce purveyor. I started babysitting around the neighborhood, and started my waitressing career at 13. I lived on my own from the time I was 18, holding 3 jobs at the same time in order to pay the bills. It seems all my life I’ve kind of scrimped to be able to buy things, for the house or myself. I learned to shop sales and find bargains, but still managed to get in debt. (Now you know why poor Lauren suffered!)

When I started making good money, we were able to fix up our house, and I always had nice clothes, not designer clothes, still shopped sales, but always looked together - in a suburban way. Now I work a lot less, but still like to have nice clothes, city clothes. (What’s the difference in city and suburban dress – not sure – maybe just hipper?)

With this last diagnosis, my first thoughts were about cleaning out my closets, and the thought of buying anything new didn’t enter my mind. After the first couple of months, those thoughts changed, and I started to think about my out-of-date and a little shabby wardrobe, and started buying. I also decided I didn’t want to look like a cancer patient. Things have calmed a bit, but still I find myself thinking about the next purchase.

In all reality, I seem to wear the same things all the time. A lot of today’s styles I don’t particularly like, and they are so trendy they won’t be popular very long. The mature side of me says: Time to be more selective; buy better and less. The kid that was always denied still feels the need for more. Now there’s that little voice in the way back saying you won’t live long enough to spend it – why not just go shopping! I trust that all of these conflicting opinions will work their way out and settle on a reasonable compromise.

The week is ending on a good note. After feeling lousy all week, I’ve finally been able to leave the house and visit my mom who is still in rehab. She is doing much better and is scheduled to come home in a week. The sun is shining, the air is crisp and cold, and it was a very good day.

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