Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Great Amazing Library

And then I go and worship The Library.  Ah The Library.  I get giddy when I think of Her.  No membership fee.  Encouraging behavior like taking out THREE books at once that you couldn't possibly read before they are overdue.

It's a bloody miracle that there is a place in the world where they don't have hidden costs and is open to every social and economic demographic.  With free internet (Love ya, coffee bar, but someone has been sitting in that chair for so long that it has his body scent. ). And they let you rent movies for free as long as you aren't late (Got to admire chutzpah to charge a buck a one messes with The Librarian!).  In just about every town in the country.

Sometimes I will go there just to pretend that I am shopping again.  Looking at all of the lovely choices.  Feeling the same way about books as I felt about shoes. And coffee beans.  Wandering the aisles taking in the sensation that there is no rush at The Library.  As long as it isn't closing time and I don't have a child in tow, I can lurk and loiter in a public place without any legal repercussion. If I lean over a book in my lap and don't snore, I can maybe get some sleep if they can't prove that I am not actually reading.  They even have discounted and/or free museum passes at some of them so that you can loiter in other public places.  All the while leaving the utilities off at home.  Not only making The Library free...making it profitable!

Today, I found out there is a new Christopher Moore book that has been released.  I love buying Christopher Moore books.   But I can't do afford to purchase it in a book store.  So I will go to my and order it from The Library where The Librarians will hunt it down for you if The Library Branch doesn't have it (same for DVDs).  And they will call me when it arrives and say, "Hey, come get your free temporary brand spanking new book! Just like the new ones in the store but covered in mylar and stamps!" And I get to read it!  Then I will look at the inside cover price and say, "Some day, I will give you royalties, Christopher Moore.  Some day.  But today, I still get to enjoy you and save 1/4 of my YMCA membership fee." And  I don't mind giving it back when I am done.  Because The Library is also a kind public oxymoron even.....and will let me take it out as many times as I want.

Spending To Save Money! That's Crazy Talk!

I'm not sure which is worse.  Never having a latte now or thinking you may never have one again (or a quality pair of shoes or a really good fancy know what I mean). "Never" is a scary thought.  And sometimes it feels just like that.  Infinite deprivation.  Well, truth is, thinking like that isn't going to help or induce proactive behavior. Action makes me feel better.

The husband got a decent sized check earlier in the year.  We paid up all of those bills that had piled up. We bought lots of groceries.  I got a latte.  It tasted wonderful.  The problem, though, is that our owed money was so backed up that the decent sized check disappeared almost instantly and here we are again.  We held onto it as long as we could.  We pondered what we could do to make the future easier when the money would dry up entirely while our employment status remained fixed in this situation. And we came to some conclusions that did seemed a little extravagant for poor folks trying to get by.  But, in the end, I think it makes sense.

We always buy a monthly train pass even if we have to sell the cat.  We have to.  The husband uses the commuter rail to get to school. It is enormously expensive to take the long commute per ride and it is one fee that we expect.  The car is worn out as it is.  The less we use it, the less we spend randomly on gas and repairs. Sometimes we don't even use the car and I feel virtuous as a non-carbon footprinter.

We also keep our YMCA family membership, again, even if we have to sell the cat.  (And we like the cat. So don't think we would actually do it.) (I say in case my daughter is reading this).  (And its a nice cat but the market value ain't all that.) All Massachusetts and Rhode Island YMCA memberships are good at any in those states. Also, we get a certain amount of passes for other ones not in state.  Our YMCA  family membership for 3 of us costs about $90 a month.  Sounds steep?  But, I shower there every day that I work out there.  So does my husband.  It is a couple of hours of every day that I am unemployed when I am not in my house not using heat and water.  Say the kid is getting antsy because you just can't pay to do something like going to the movies or something like that? There's always the swimming pool at the Y.  My employment is attached to my physicality.  I am also over 40 years old.  I have to exercise somewhere or I get mean.  And lose work when it comes knocking.  It takes the edge of the money stress.  It is one more thing that is an expected monthly expense that keeps me moving forward. It is worth keeping.

I like to think of myself as a squirrel.  Not in a rodent way.  In a storing things for the winter way.  Which is why when the money is present, I pay extra attention to sites like Groupon and Living Social.  These are daily coupon sites that make deals with restaurants, salons, attractions, hotels, pretty much any local business willing to make one huge cut to attract new business.  You choose your location and you receive an email each day with a couple of offers.  I look for specialty food stores and occasionally a restaurant with a really good deal.  Then I put it in a tree for the winter. Or when the financial feces hits the fan and I need food products.

My favorite has been an Italian deli where I picked up 20 bucks worth of cold cuts that I had paid ten dollars for and a bakery with fantastic bread with the same deal.  10 dollars for 20 dollars worth of food products that I had already paid for a long time before the fact. My acorns. We also paid for a coupon for a trendy vintage/hipster clothing store that happened to run a store wide half price special the day we were there. So we paid 10 dollars for 40 dollars worth of products in the end which included new jeans and a shirt for the husband which he needed badly.  Pretty danged sweet. Yeah, its spending money on something that looks a little luxury item.  But in the long run, food is food. Clothes are clothes. And cheap is cheap.  Even if it is in a gourmet deli.

No one said it was easy.  We do still have some choices. And sometimes the choice doesn't look like the right one.  But in the long run it may help you get through to the other side in a less tattered condition.