Thursday, December 13, 2007

Yin and Yang

I’m kind of cheap. I mean, I’m not the person at a group dinner splitting the cost of the appetizer, adding up my entrée and one glass of wine, loudly declaring, “I only had one glass of wine. I’m paying $20 instead of $40!” We all know that person. No, I’m not her. I guess I’m more “frugal.”

I hate paying full retail price. HATE IT. I hate it so much that last Saturday I waited not one, but TWO HOURS to get into the Citizens of Humanity sample sale. TWO HOURS!! (Okay, we left to check other sample sales and came back to our same spot in line the nice women in front of us held while they thought we were eating but it was still 1 hour and fifteen minutes.) On the bright side, I found four pairs of pants for $320 instead of $800, but come on! It was almost my ENTIRE Saturday! Do I really NEED four new pairs of pants? Probably not. (See? Frugal, not cheap.)

Which brings me to my yang. Pete is generous. I mean, really, really, makes-my-tight-fist-clench generous.

I’ll go online to buy a wedding gift for a wedding we didn’t attend, and think, “This lovely vase seems like a good purchase.”

“No, you can spend more.”

“Um, okay. The platter is nice, too.”

“Get them the platter AND the vase,” he’ll declare.

My little, cheap heart shudders.

To give a little perspective, I was broke for years after college (like twelve). I graduated and moved to Los Angeles, which isn’t the smartest thing to do without money or nice clothes or parents to live with. Luckily, Visa and MasterCard thought I should look stylish and eat at fabulous restaurants so they sponsored me. After I grew tired of all the trying so hard, I decided I needed to move back to Colorado. Again, Visa and MasterCard took pity on me and helped finance it. My pals Visa and MasterCard never wanted me to go without, and kindly stepped in to buy me new furniture for my apartment in Boulder. They paid for lift tickets for skiing. Dinner out with friends. The outfit I wore to go to dinner and the one for skiing. They were like fairy godparents. Until I had to pay them back.

I always worked over the years, but it seemed like none of the jobs paid very well. When I realized those nasty fairy godparents weren’t going to help, I battened down the hatches. Money squeaked out. I stopped spending as frivolously. I started thinking, “Do I need another pair of black shoes or could I send that money to Visa or MasterCard?” My mindset around money shifted completely. I learned to respect money, but it took awhile. It wasn’t like I just woke up and thought, “By Jove I’ve got it! Stop spending!”

And then finally, one bright day, after scrimping, respecting and limiting my eating out habit (it is bad), I found that I was no longer indebted to Visa and MasterCard.

Which brings me back to Pete. He has never been indebted to the ugly fairy god parents. He’s German. Europeans don’t understand the concept of getting in debt to build credit so he never did. He had low points in his financial life, but not with the noose of debt hanging around his neck. He approaches spending very differently than I do.

Which brings me to last night and why I am lucky that he’s my husband. My friend Heidi produced an indie film, and had a silent auction to raise money for it last night. He was intent on finding things to bid on, and we did. When I didn’t want to bid more for something, he would say, “But it’s for Heidi! It’s a good cause.” While I agreed, I didn’t see the need for us to have flip-flop coasters or pay over the retail price for a cool travel book (plus I donated a few items for the auction).

We ended up with the winning bid for a beautiful antique watch Pete had to have and winning the raffle ($50 gift certificate for a local restaurant). Unfortunately, most of the people there didn’t bid on anything, and things (other than the travel book) went for far under value. Thankfully, I have him in my life to loosen my purse strings and let some of the money flow. Not to mention, support my friends.

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