Spenders and Savers: Can’t We Be Friends?

I don't understand why everyone doesn't rush out to buy milk when they hear snow is on the way. Joke all you want.

I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t rush out to buy milk when they hear snow is on the way. Joke all you want.

Miles run today: 8

Gallons of milk purchased yesterday in anticipation of 2-4″ of snow (actual accumulation: 1/4″): 2

Dollars spent on said milk: 7.80

My friend and I were sitting in our social media class the other day, analyzing all sorts of information about our favorite subject: ourselves.

Ten year goals, five year goals, things that make us unique… our fingers were skipping over the keys like those bendable jump roping kids in a Christmas parade.

Until my fingers kept skipping, and my friend’s didn’t.

Subject: “I Love to Spend Money On…”

My fingers were happy:

1. Boots

2. Trips

3. Things for the kids

4. Clothes

5. Good food

6. Wine

7. Going out with friends…

Until I noticed that my friend’s fingers were not so happy. My eyebrows raised, I glanced at her empty page and tried to cover up the computer screen with my own exhaustive list.

“I hate to spend money,” she said.

“You hate to spend money on wasteful things, like food?”

“I hate to spend money,” she said. “On anything.”

“What about a vacation?”

“No, not really.”

“Or fun stuff for the kids?”

“Maybe… but no, not that either.”

“Not even Disney?”

[Anne trivia break here: When I heard one of the Disney marketing guys speak several years ago, he said that the state sending the most visitors to Disney was New Jersey and that the average family saves for 10 years to afford the vacation.]

“Not even Disney. I hated spending money on that, too.”

I do not have words for this situation.

I remember my grandmother telling me that one of the best things about not having much money was having the satisfaction of saving up for something and eventually being able to buy it. When she got to the point where she could afford to get and do the things she wanted, some of the fun went away.

Being a (conservative) spender at heart, I can agree with her. Early on in our marriage, a fun evening out was having a cup of coffee with friends or roller-blading in an empty parking lot for hours. If we ever bought a new CD or a bottle of cheap wine, it was Party Central.

At that time–15 years ago, to be exact–my husband and I ended up sitting in the office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

My husband hadn’t been allowed to work for the five months after our wedding while we waited for INS to process his paperwork. (If his plan was to marry a well-off American woman and spend his days watching “Cops,” he could have chosen a more well-heeled candidate; we ate a lot of salads and beans.)

The woman behind the desk was scrutinizing a printout of our checks; my husband and I sat holding hands and scrutinizing the cinderblock walls.

The vulnerability I experienced was akin to wearing a white paper gown at my annual physical exam, and in less well-appointed offices.

The INS lady held the papers out to us and turned them towards me. “Do you see that you have signed all of these checks except one?”

I giggled nervously and scanned the checks: rent, water bill, electrical bill, gas bill, internet bill, doctor co-pay… they were hardly evidence of out-of-control spending.

I looked at my husband, a much better-looking prospective green card holder than Gerard Depardieu.

“I guess I’m the one who pays the bills,” I said, and I felt the blush creeping up into my hairline.

She shook her head and took the papers back.

Good news: my husband got his green card.

Bad news: I still love to spend money on:

1. Boots

2. Trips

3. Fun trail mix

4. Pajamas with birds on them

5. Fluffy towels

6. Sweet tea

7. Door handles for my car

What about you? Is spending such a drag? Please, be honest.

And if you lie and say you hate spending money, please tell me which one thing makes you happy to spend money on.