Sunday, July 10, 2005

Never too thin or too rich

I've been thinking about money and such ever since I read Heidi's post on parental support and education. I started working in high school, but my father's family thought I should be able to concentrate on my studies and badgered him into giving me an allowance and paying my car insurance so I could quit my job as a cashier at Petsmart (which, by the way, is an excellent place to work if you're a good test taker; most of the raises and promotions are based on your ability to pass a standardized test on a given type of pet).

In college I got work study money as part of my financial aid and picked up a job at one of the campus research institutes (mostly because my next door neighbor encouraged me to apply since they were looking to hire some women). I kept that for all four years, working there two summers. During law school I didn't work, but I did take a firm job after 2L year to make some money so I wouldn't have to go begging to my family more than was absolutely necessary. I save, pinch, and scrimp. I like shopping at thrift shops. I'd clip coupons, except I don't like paying for a newspaper (when I worked at an office that got the local paper I'd ask for the Sunday circulars and get them that way).

But in many ways my existence has always been comfortable. I've never had to leave school due to lack of funds. I've never gone to bed hungry because I had to, and I've never bounced a check. Hell, I've never even carried a balance on a credit card.

So with that in mind, here are my answers to this web meme about money.

1. How much money is in your wallet right now?

Twenty bucks, more or less. I actually don't carry my wallet; I carry a key case with some money and a debit card. That way I can buy necessities, but I don't have a bunch of cards to charge things on. I also don't carry my license, which keeps me from buying expensive drinks when dining (like the other night at Thaiphoon, which actually really ticked me off. the one time I want a cocktail in D.C., the waiter cards me. Will said it must have been my girlish barrette. hmph).

2. How much money would you need in the bank to feel secure? Rich?

Secure: I feel pretty secure with the amount I have, but I wish it were easier to access and not tied up so much. Rich: I wouldn't feel rich until I had enough in the bank for a down payment on a house.

3. If someone gave you $100, no strings attached, what would you do with it?

I actually gave myself $200 at some point by hiding some "emergency money" in the back of my checkbook and forgetting about it. I found it last month and haven't spent it yet. The reason I have money is that I don't spend it unless I need something, which doesn't change just because someone gave me some money.

With all that virtuous talk put aside: shoes. Fancy Italian leather pumps at Nordstrom.

4. If someone gave you $1 Million, no strings attached, what would you do with it?

I wouldn't buy a house right now because I'm waiting for the bubble to pop. But I would buy a house with it at some point in the next three years, either in an up and coming area of D.C. like the place I live now or in San Diego, so I could have some lemon or avocado trees. I would invest whatever was left over.

5. How much does something have to cost before it starts counting as "real" money, as a purchase to be considered and evaluated, but below which you'll buy without really thinking about it?

Everything is real money. I think about it all. I buy cheap candy, for heaven's sake. You know, the kind on the wire racks that are 69 cents or two for a dollar. Generic gummi bears. You know what I'm talking about. Buy generics and skip the bars and you can afford to treat yourself to a nice vacation. That's more important to me than buying the brand name mayonnaise.
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