I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Monday, August 14, 2006

It's a Tree, Michelle

I have a completely buggered up sense of money. Not so much that I don't appreciate the value of the dollar, or that I'm clueless about finances in general ... it's that I have very, very strange notions about how money should be spent and handled. For example, I won't really bat an eye at the idea of spending a gajillion dollars on a major home renovation, but I will not be able to spend $10 on something I really, really want. The point of difference? One is (in my mind) a frivolous purchase, while the other is totally necessary if we are to keep our house from falling down. I just can't bring myself to spend money on stuff which isn't strictly necessary, and my ideas of what is necessary and what isn't are totally warped. This weird attitude to money comes from being the daughter of really crappy money managers. My parents are a lot of things, they just aren't fabulous at handling their cash flow. Money and lack thereof was a defining part of my childhood - we lived in a giant mansion, lost it and then rented a crappy house, and are now back to living in splendor with holiday homes to boot. This is all due to my parents extreme hard work - but in my mind the whole living in a shithole part could have been avoided by better planning. Anyway, back to moi, the point is that I am really, really weird about spending money and saving money and money in general. I 'hide' money in various spots (both literally and figuratively). I think once, twice, three, four, even five times about buying something which is not on sale. I stress about purchases. I recycle stuff A LOT. I nearly never buy things which I think are frivolous - even if they aren't really frivolity, they're things which might make my life easier. This doesn't mean that I don't occasionally splurge ... It just means I'll feel extremely guilty about it afterwards. I find myself often asking, "but do I really NEED that?" before making a purchase. The sad part about it is that afterwards, I regret not having just, well, lived a little. I miss out on experiences and things because I have some totally fucked notion of how I shouldn't be just plain carefree with money. Maybe this is a fear that the money will somehow just run out? I don't know. I don't want to delve too far into this - it might require therapy, which is not strictly necessary, and then I'll stress about the therapist bills. Best to stop now.

What, I hear you asking, does this have to do with trees? When DH and I traveled around Europe, he spent AGES telling me about our budget, our daily allowance, and how we had to record each purchase in a small spiral notebook to keep track and make sure we stayed on budget. Even he will admit, he was a little obsessive about this. Anyway so we went to Europe at Xmas time. All over Germany (which we spent a fair amount of time in) there were these Xmas markets. The markets were just amazing treasure troves of glittering, sparkling, beautiful works of art. Decorations, wooden villages, clothing, lights...and fabulous stalls filled with special cookies and cakes and treats of the season. So for weeks on end I literally pined (pun intended) over these small, gorgeous, intricately carved wooden trees. The thing is I like trees - most nature related stuff anyway - and these trees were really lovely. The kind of REAL souvenir I wanted from our trip - not the plastic leaning Tower of Pisa, not the "Munich at night" postcard, not the ticket stubs from the night I slept through The Magic Flute at the Vienna Opera House. I desperately wanted one of those trees. The problem? Trees were not in the budget. I didn't NEED a tree. I wasn't authorised to buy a tree. Trees were on the proverbial 'frivolous items' list. I managed to keep this a secret from DH for most of the trip. However on the very last leg through Germany, I finally broke down. I spent AGES looking at these carved wonders, desperately wanting one for myself. So much of our trip was about the things we couldn't afford (we only saw the Coliseum from the outside, we hardly ate anything beyond bread and cheese, etc) and this tree, well, the tree was destined to become another one of those things. DH saw me eyeing off these little trees and said, "You want a tree? BUY A TREE." He could not believe that I had spent the better part of 2 months desperately wanting a tree. I really wanted one of the intricately carved ones, but I only let myself buy the smallest, simplest carved tree I could find. It cost less than $5. He even wrote it down in the spiral notebook: Tree: $5. I carefully, carefully carried it home in my hands. I then gently wrapped that tree in tissue paper, to make sure it came home to Melbourne safe and sound. It is one of my most prized possessions, and that tree is what made me totally, blissfully happy for a great while afterwards. Still does. My tree just fills me with warm fuzzies, what can I say?

The tree now has a life of it's own, in the form of an expression. I told DH how I went to a kitchenalia shop to buy an item (which I really needed) and that while I was there I saw a knife roll I liked (a sort of cloth 'apron' which holds a chef's tools and rolls up). Currently I carry this bloody enormous heavy box and it's bulky and uncomfortable. I really want a chef roll. Strictly speaking, I don't need one, so I'm not going to buy it. Anyway, the chef roll I liked cost $50. DH looked at me and said, "Oh for heaven's sake! Why didn't you just buy it? BUY THE TREE, Michelle. BUY THE DAMN TREE."

I didn't. But I'm content knowing that I could have if I wanted to.

1 comment:

Jenny in Queensland said...

You could writing a story about me... this is so true.