I don’t like thinking about money. A random blogger I read on Sunday said she hates Christians because they leave lousy tips after church on Sunday. I wonder how many souls I have flung into hell.
I don’t understand tipping. I prefer being told in advance, anonymously, how much something costs. If I decide it’s a fair price I will come and buy it for that price. If I don’t like the price I will leave you alone. I love the internet because I can check the price of something without ever even risking eye contact. I don’t like to show up somewhere and not buy anything. It seems rude. It’s like saying, “Good grief, I cannot believe you would charge this much money. There’s no way it’s worth this much. You have a big ego to ask for that much money. And your stuff is junk. Are you trying to rob me?”
Likewise I don’t like tipping. How much do you think your service was worth? Tell me. I’ll pay you that. If I think it’s ridiculous I’ll never come here again.
I am pretty sure only starving single mothers who are working three jobs and going to college are waitresses, because that’s all we ever hear about when someone is a chinzy tipper. I try usually to follow the rules and tip what I am supposed to (the PRICE, doggone it), but I’ve probably tipped 10% when I’m supposed to tip 15% or something. Usually, I think, I have failed to tip at all.
When I was travelling once for work my flight was cancelled and I had to stay in a hotel not planned, after my rental car was returned. A shuttle came to pick me up early in the morning and the guy asked me for a tip. I don’t remember what I gave him and it probably wasn’t enough. I don’t know. What’s the price? It’s not marked. Am I supposed to tip all of those rental car shuttle bus drivers? I don’t think so. I haven’t been.
Of course I wasn’t leaving any tips in my hotel room either. I didn’t know you were supposed to until I was checking out of one hotel and there was a cleaning lady talking with the clerk behind the counter and she said, “Boy, you better have left be a big tip up there buddy!” I know that is an automatic fail; she isn’t supposed to get a tip because you are supposed to act like you totally don’t care about a tip when you deserve one so nobody knows what the price is. I had to switch rooms in that hotel because the air conditioner in the first room was leaking condensate into the room, and the second room had carpet scuffed off right where it revealed some flooring tacks. So that hotel failed for tips. But up to that point I never left tips in any hotel. I didn’t know.
I don’t like shopping much but I went to a store on Saturday because there were some things I had been wanting for a while to get and it seemed like this store was having a pretty decent sale on a lot of things. 50% to 60% off, although some of the mundane things I wanted were more like 30% to 40% off. But when I got there I couldn’t really tell what was a good bargain and I kind of wanted to buy one of everything, even though that would have cost a fantastic amount of money, just so I could not pick the wrong thing.
Here! Take all my money if that’s what you want! I’ll never shop here again but I sure don’t want to argue about your prices!
For work they pay me and you know what they do? They give me some of my money, but some of it they put into a “workplace savings” and some of it they put into a “health savings account.” Some of it goes toward “health insurance” but that does not count what goes toward the “dental insurance” which is not the same as the “vision plan.” On top of the fact that I on my own have a checking account, a savings account, two credit cards, a gas card, heat, rent, electric, cable, car insurance. And a work expense card. And a work expense phone card. And a Blockbuster video card I got in a different state because I was bored.
If I was a wise man I would shrewdly invest my money and make it grow. The problem is I use all my shrewdery on my job. I don’t come home to be shrewd. Invest my money? It’s in too many places already. Keeping track of where my money is or is supposed to be is harder than keeping track of birthdays in my family, and I have 11 siblings.
And budget. The bravest, strongest, and holiest people budget. They make a plan for what they want to do with their first million, or thousand, or hundred, and then they plan how long they want it to take for them to achieve it, and then they figure out how much to set aside from every paycheck to make all their dreams come true. Someday I would like to buy a house. But I am not sure when. Or where. Or how much houses will cost then. And I will need to replace my car someday. But I am not sure when (if I even have a choice). Or what kind of car I want next.
I’m supposed to make up my mind about that in advance, so that when I do it I know I’ve done the right thing. But I know that once you decide to do something, really decide on it, it feels a lot more right when you do it. It doesn’t mean it is more right, you just like to congratulate yourself on your own rightness.
But nevermind. I concede. It’s better to have a budget. I just don’t want to try to think about it. Budget for my dental costs? I Hearby Do Solemnly Swear or Affirm That I Shall Have My First Cavity At Age 31. It Shall Cost Me $235.34 Co-Pay After Negotiated Price. Until Then I Shall Only Buy Toothpaste And Dental Floss, The Price Of Each Inflating At Exactly 3.67% For The Next 4.3 Years. And Thus Shall Be My Budget For Dental Care. Amen.
I used to have a good excuse for not budgeting. I had no idea what money I was going to make (that summer doing odd jobs as called upon) and I had no idea how much money I was going to spend (on utterly new life expenses like car insurance). That excuse has kind of dissipated, though.
This is what I do. I keep track of what I spent. I only keep track of what I spend in ways that are easy to cross-check–credit cards and so forth. Cash payments are a black hole in my financial universe. I can tell the money left but I don’t know where it went. Every now and then I check and make sure the receipts I have logged match the statements I have gotten back.
Every now and then means about twice a year. I just did that on Sunday. Well, half of it. I spent most of Sunday avoiding doing it so I only got halfway through. I already feel a lot better though. There was a slag heap of statements clinging to my desk on the left side of my keyboard and it is gone now. Except for one new receipt. I bought groceries today (and I didn’t tip the bagger–another soul goes to hell). But one day, after I am all caught up on the history of my expenses, I am going to analyze it and then I am going to budget based on what I see. And after that I am going to invest.
And then I will be perfect and you can all come to my house and ask me how I did it.