Love/Hate Relationship
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Recently, I launched an internal campaign to become more responsible with my money. I spent 6 months recording everything I spent, then used spreadsheets to analyze my spending patterns, with pie charts, bar graphing, the works.

Actually, no. That is what I should have done. But I am ME, and part of being ME is being rather absentminded when it comes to stuff like money. I dislike the intense amount of self-discipline it takes to track stuff, balance things, and use a calculator when the numbers always seem too low. I've tried many times to make it a game, a puzzle, and use all the strategies financial advisors dole out in their self-help books. So I wing it (for the most part), and hope for the best. As I've gotten older, my feelings about dealing with money have become a cycle of rebirth, reorganization, stress, failure, and then ultimately the GUILT which spurs me on to a new cycle of rebirth (aka picking a new way to "figure out" my finances).

But I digress. The point is - I'm in a new pattern of trying to save where it seems logical to save (imagine that!), which I haven't done a whole lot of because I haven't HAD to. I'm single. I have no children. I can justify the purchase of anything - don't shop with me unless you want to hear the truth about how your butt looks in those pants, and then a short diatribe on why it would be completely sensible to buy 3 pairs of those pants ANYHOW.

In short, I'm a mess. But over the past several years, I've been making small strides and getting better. I made another small stride on Monday afternoon -- I got a library card.

It doesn't take analysis for me to know that one of the things I spend (a lot) of money on, that I probably shouldn't, is books. I prefer to own them - I like to be able to go back and read again, make notes, have the book at my fingertips. The old adage "you can't take it with you," didn't really apply to my book addiction. In response, my new approach is one of logic and emotional distance - creating a buffer zone between me and my love for books.

It's a small step, but for me, an important one. Especially since I live less than three blocks away from a gorgeous, formidable library that is full of books, magazines, quiet, free WiFi, and also has this intangible quality of life to it. I swear, when I walked in, the hair stood up on the back of my neck, and it wasn't the smell of the books that caused it. The place just buzzes.

I immediately headed to my favorite section - the circulation stacks housing cookbooks, budgeting books, and manuals on housekeeping. I saw this little baby and had to stifle a squeal of delight. Even though I think Martha Stewart is a complete a**hole, I'm all for her tips on seasonal decor and the million ways you can clean with white vinegar. It's like porn...for Jamie. Did you know your local library carries household porn? It's so exciting.

And best of all, it's free. Guilt-free, hassle-free, FREE.