“I knew you wouldn’t like it.” Blogmas 15

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216api‘Tis the season for another exciting Blogmas post. It’s a busy time of the year. People shopping, shopping and shopping. Those who say online shopping is killing the mall haven’t spent any time trying to navigate the malls during the Christmas season. The mall parking lots are full now and it won’t get any better any time soon. Finding a parking spot at the mall is like winning the lottery during the Christmas season. And if the spot is near the entrance, it’s like a glorious early gift from Santa. Santa, I’m sure, has no problem finding parking. He just lands the sleigh on the mall roof, and he’s good to go.

216akfI’ve got almost all of my shopping wrapped up now. Literally. As soon as I get home with a present, I wrap it. No luck for any snoopers in my home. Maybe it’s because of one of my good friends in middle school. She went snooping and found an Esprit shirt her mom had bought her for Christmas.  Then she wore it to school before Christmas with the tag still on it. Then she put it back where she found it. I would never have been so lucky to get away with such a thing. I would have spilled food on it for certain. I did snoop one year, but realized that it wasn’t any fun on Christmas when you already know what your gifts are. Then you also have to be an amazing actress. The only upside to snooping is if you open a gift that is totally not you. It’s easier to hide your disappointment when you already know a gift you hate is coming.

216as6My mom is the worst for picking out gifts that I don’t like. I’ve realized over the years that I have to be very careful when I go shopping with her. What she tends to do is pick something up, and ask me what I think of it. Now what I used to think when she did that was, “What do you think of this for me?” But after receiving items that she asked me what I thought of over the years, I now know that “What do you think of this?” actually means “What do you think of this because I’m going to buy this for you for Christmas.”  So now when mom asks me, “What do you think of this?”, my first question to her is, “For you or for me?”

216a9rOne of the worst gifts I got from my mom was the year I asked for a plain white bath robe. What I got was a bath robe with sunglasses and lipsticks sewn on. I may have mentioned this before? But the best part was my reaction when I opened the gift. I couldn’t hide my disappointment. It looked like a plain bathrobe at first, but then I pulled it up out of the box, my face fell. My mom says and I quote: “I knew you weren’t going to like it.” She knew I wasn’t going to like it. But she got it anyway.
I love my mom and she tries so hard to make Christmas special for us all. In fact, she goes overboard every year, even now that my brother and I are well into our 30s and 40s. She braves those mall parking lots every year with arthritis in her legs, hobbling sadly around trying to find gifts that she knows we’re not going to like. She’s Santa with a wheelchair parking pass, and a list she only half reads. Instead of a red suit, she has red hair, but only because she dyes it. But she’s my Santa and I love her dearly. I can’t wait to see what things she knew I wouldn’t like this year!

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems

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Financial advice:

How to make lots of money and still be poor

I’ve been thinking a lot about money lately. Or rather the lack of it. I make a decent salary, and my husband works on commission, but makes a decent contribution to our combined income. I’m not going to get into my exact gross or net income, but let’s just say we make enough that we should be living the life of “luxury” or at the very least, we should be doing much better than we are. I’m sure there are a lot of other people who are in our situation. You’re making enough that you should be able to make ends meet, and be able to put savings aside. But instead, you’re living paycheque to paycheque. I have become an expert at living this way. I remember my first year of teaching, I was given the assignment of teaching a course about careers which included a unit on managing your finances. When my father heard this at a family dinner one night, knowing my financial history, his Diet Pepsi came shooting out of his nose with a loud snort. “Who are you to be teaching kids about finances?” He was absolutely right; and even after learning and teaching kids how to be smart about finances, I still have yet to practice it in my own life. So today, I’m going to tell you all about how to be poor.

First off, it is important not to use a budget. You can’t be poor if you plan and know where your money is going. Of course, be smart enough to be aware of the important bills like heat, power, internet and phones. But you never have to pay them on time. Even if you just put a bit on them at a time, it shows that you’re trying, and I’ve yet to be cut off. You may get a threatening letter, “Pay or we’ll cut your power/phone/heat/ etc. off,” but you just call and tell them when you’ll pay. Usually you can even get by without paying the full amount. They don’t care, because they’re charging you late fees.

Which brings me to my next way to ensure you keep yourself in a life of poverty…20171105_181319.jpg

Debt. Of course, if you’re not paying bills in full on time, you are accumulating debt. Then there are the other sources of debt: car payments, personal loans, consolidation loans. Some people may have mortgages but if you’re lucky enough to be carrying as much debt as me, it’s not likely you’ll ever be approved for a mortgage. A great way to ensure you keep staying poor is to use one credit card to pay the minimum payment on another.

You may be wondering now, how is it that you keep having to use credit cards to pay off other credit cards? Where is your money going? Well, first off, if you read my first cardinal rule of paycheque to paycheque living you would know that I don’t know where my money goes. But I do know one thing…20171105_175544.jpgA good portion of my money goes to shopping. Another great way to stay poor is to spend money on things you don’t need and can’t afford.20171105_181008.jpg There are lots of ways to do this- go shopping when you’re hungry. You’ll wind up with a cart full of food that will just sit in your cupboard. Or another way that ensures my cycle of poverty are sales. You mean this pack of wieners are a $1 each if I buy 10 of them? Sure, I’ll never eat 10 packs of wieners before they expire and my freezer is full of sale frozen pizzas and ice cream that I won’t be able to squeeze the wieners in there, but I’ll buy them anyway because it’s a good deal. 20171105_180950.jpgAlso, there is also just those times that because I’m not keeping track of what I spend, I think I have more money than I really do. Debit is the worst. If you’ve ever done the debit prayer, you know what I mean:

 

 

The Debit Prayer20171105_180052.jpg

I filled my cart with merchandise,

And now it’s time to pay,

I give the cashier my debit card,

And now it’s time to pray.

 

With fingers crossed (and toes),

I enter in my pin,

Please God, Please God, Please God,

My debit prayer begins.

 

Do I have money in my account?

Only God can know,

The seconds feel like hours,

And the connection is slow.

 

At the Walmart checkout,

Scenarios enter my mind,

Will I be humiliated and

Have to leave my goodies behind?

 

God forbid it says “Not approved”

And I have to do the walk of shame,

Worst of all, in a small town,

The Walmart cashier knows my name.

 

Or will my prayer be answered,

And the money will be there.

Oh God, I promise to make a budget,

I promise to take more care.

 

If the transaction gets approved,

I will be off to another store,

I’ll stand at another checkout,

Reciting my debit prayer once more.

 
If you or someone you know needs financial advice, I strongly encourage you to do the opposite of what I do. And if you live pay-cheque to pay-cheque, stay strong, and remember, money doesn’t bring happiness. It just makes people look happy. And gives you a serotonin rush when you go shopping with it. Okay… maybe money does make you happy. But it’s a temporary happiness. It is helping others, spending time with friends and family, and being your authentic self that brings happiness.

By Ocean Hayward