Some people say you get old when you sign your first mortgage. Or when you have your first child. Or your second. Personally I’d say I really started feeling old when I first started wondering whether any given set of aches and pains was going to be there for the rest of my life. But aside from that, I’d throw one other criterion in there: you’re a grownup the first time you realize you can’t remember the last time you checked your balance at the ATM before just getting money out.
Alternately – and this is what put me on this train of thought – maybe it’s when your default ATM withdrawal goes from $20 to $100. I had to forcibly make myself only get out $40 at a time, both in an attempt to force more spending to the credit card (where it can earn Starwood points and be more easily audited) and to prevent the slow leakage that comes with extra cash on hand. If you’ve got $89 in your pocket, you’re less likely to think twice about throwing two bucks on a bottle of Zero.
I don’t have a really good sense of money. I famously agonized for months over buying a $21 Nerf gun (with accessories) a couple of years back. The ridiculous thing was that I could have packed my lunch one day and not bought any sodas or snacks between meals for two days and HAD the $21. The amount of money I’ve sunk into short-term soda rental in my life is truly staggering, if you think about it, and I can’t afford to.
But then again – there lies the problem. My shoulder was largely better until a couple of nights in a strange bed with unhelpful pillows skewed the whole thing again, and the temptation is to run down to a nice reputable spa and have somebody give my shoulder the business.* The only thing is, that’ll set me back a slick $90 plus tip – and the benefits of it may well be gone in a day or two. The watch I agonized over for more than a year and finally bought myself for my 40th birthday with assorted gift money? Basically a little over two massages, and that could well last me for decades.
Ultimately, that may be the biggest part of how I stopped buying cigars (not just a question of smoking locations) or how I made it two nights in Tahoe without ever stepping up to a craps table and putting down money. Or why I’m far more likely to spend my impulse purchasing on Kindle books. Or why I stopped chasing cell phones with a guaranteed lifespan of only a couple of years, or why I was so reluctant to take the iPad plunge for so long. Or why cocktails have replaced straight liquor when going out drinking – I could buy a bottle at BevMo and get out cheaper, so put the money into something I don’t have the time, ingredients or skill to make myself instead.
Maybe that’s why I’m still sidelong-glancing at that Filson jacket.** Lifetime warranty? Now that’s value for money.
* When I did this in December, they did a full hour and change of hardcore Swedish therapy massage. By the end of it, my nose was running, my ears were ringing, I was too dizzy to walk and I’m pretty sure I gave up the location of the secret Rebel base.
** Having just completed a jacket audit (and getting ready to start on shoes), I’m more convinced than ever that I have to have something done with drugs or surgery about the jacket glee. If I’m serious about avoiding “performance outerwear” as the look, it’s going to be damned difficult to do water-resistant without being too heavy. Might be time to custom-tailor my existing oilcloth coat and see if I can make the pockets work for me…