Greg Shiller recently wrote a piece entitled Such A Deal! It’s the story about his wife who likes to spend! spend! spend! money! On things she and Greg don’t really need–simply because they’re on sale. Below is Greg’s writing challenge:
“This week’s writing challenge: write about the lust for stuff.
- Write about the thing you most wanted a kid. (Remember that thing that went zip when it moved, bop when it stopped and whrrr when it stood still?)
- Write about what happened when you got the thing you most wanted as a kid.
- Write about the thing you most want now.
- Write about all the things you have accumulated without the slightest knowledge of how they came to be in your possession.
- Write about the little treasures you surround yourself with.
As you can see, the basic premise to this challenge is that we all like to consume and surround ourselves with material things.
I’m having trouble with this challenge. You see, I was an unusual kid. I was perhaps the the only kid in the history of Keynesian economics who wouldn’t spend his allowance. I was perhaps the only kid who loaned money to his parents…at 10% interest per annum.
What did I want most as a kid? Not the newest Hotwheel, but a savings account. I was definitely the financial freak of my family. Sometimes I think there was a mix-up at the hospital where I was born. I am so unlike my family and many people I know. You give one of them a dollar and it burns a hole in their pocket! Not only do they spend every cent they have, they manage to owe someone money, accumulate lots of debt and eventually become bankrupt. Perhaps one day they will run for congress and sit on the budget committee. I, however, will never be an elected official. I would rather peel off the first two layers of my skin than spend more money than is taken in through taxes.
Just to show what a tightwad I really am, when my refrigerator broke down I put off buying a new one for almost a year. I said to myself, “I don’t really need a refrigerator, do I? After all, people have lived without the fridge for centuries.”
Then there is that thing called the mall. As you probably already know, a lot of women like to shop at the mall and buy clothes they never wear. The clothes just hang in closets still wrapped in the plastic. By contrast, I still wear a suit I have owned since high school. Yes, it still fits me. I like to diet–not because I’m so into keeping myself slim, but because it saves money on food–and I can put off buying a new refrigerator. A win-win!