Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sheepish Annie's Guide To Fiscal Responsibility

In these trying financial times, it is good to have a plan.  We all have to rethink how we spend.  Now is the time for being thrifty and for putting great thought into where our money would best be applied.

I, like many others, have had to come up with a new definition for "treating myself."  No more vacations in the South Of France and that new yacht is just out of the question right now.  Instead, I opt for little things to make me happy and use those as rewards for spending my money wisely in other areas.

For example, I recently promised myself a small gift if I found a way to deal with what we will call Minor Inconvenience A.  If I solved A, then I could have B (my reward).  Energized by thoughts of B, I tackled A with great gusto.  And I solved the problem.  

I'm using the term "solved" a bit loosely here, but it is my reward system and I can structure it any way I please.  Besides, the nice computerized calling system over at the credit card company was starting to sound really, really concerned.  Maybe even a little bit desperate with worry over how I was doing.  I have successfully soothed the computer and now it can enjoy its weekend.  Short term solutions count as far as I'm concerned.  I earned my prize fair and square and was determined to have it this weekend.

I'm sure that, at this point, everyone is thinking, "Yippee!  Sheepie went a-yarnin'!  Let's all sit back and see what pretty fibers she bought for our enjoyment!"  I can see why you'd think that, what with this being a knitting blog and all.  But it wasn't yarn.  

It was a pencil.  Specifically, this pencil.  

Yes, my reward was a pencil.  What can I say?  I'm picky about my writing instruments and I revel in the purchase of those which meet my specific needs.  I also have a thing for notebooks and the type of paper I write on.  Some things are just better than others.  As far as mechanical pencils go, I like one that takes a .9 lead, the big, fat kind that I can really lean on without lead bits snapping all over the place.  I spend a great deal of time thinking about these sorts of things and my research led me to the pencil I thought would make me happy.  I even knew where to get it.

I could have ordered it, but it seemed silly to spend the money having something shipped when I could just pick it up on the way home.  So I double checked to make certain the local office supply store had what I wanted and scheduled in a stop there Friday afternoon.

I was so invested in the purchasing of this pencil that I even used the store locator on the company's website to make certain that I knew where I was going.  We don't want to waste the gas searching for a store, now do we?  This would have been nothing short of genius had the website not been using directions for where the office supply store used to be many moons ago.  I ended up going five million miles out of my way and still not getting my pencil.  I went home empty-handed and having spent as much on gas as it probably would have cost me to have a pencil shipped to me using any delivery service.

I was not to be thwarted, though.  I would have my new pencil, by God!  I set out this morning, armed with the correct directions to the store and the will to succeed.  Just to be sure that I was ready for the trip, I stopped on the way to pick up a highly caffeinated soda-type beverage.  This added another dollar or so to the total in this little graphite-based adventure, but I figured it was really more of an investment in my eventual success.

I arrived at the office supply store shortly after it opened at 9:00 a.m.  I stalked purposefully to the section marked "pencils" and quickly found the exact item I sought.  It was a bit more expensive than the one on the website, but no so much as to make it less attractive to me.  I snagged the package and dropped it in my basket.  Then I got to thinking...

I like a "fat" pencil.  I never really got over those wicked cool red ones they gave us in the first grade.  You know the ones I mean.  They didn't have an eraser, but were otherwise the coolest writing instruments ever.  Big fat pencil, soft lead, nice thick line...gorgeous!  These pencils before me were kind of skinny, in spite of the fatter lead.  I figured I should get some of those gel gripper thingies to put on my new pencils so they'd be easier on my hand.  Ergonomics is important after all and the grippers are just a couple of bucks.  

Next to the grippers, though, were a slightly thicker variety of pencil.  They were made by the same company and also used the .9 leads.  Should I get that one?  They were cheaper.  But what if they were not the same quality?  There was but one thing to do:  buy both and see which one I liked best.  The third item was added to the basket.

Now my mission was complete.  And I'd finished it so quickly!  Why, I even had time to do a little browsing!  Not buying, mind you.  I was here for a pencil and nothing more.  Well...two packages of pencils and some grippy things.  

Twenty minutes later, it occurred to me why I never go to the office supply store.  I am helpless in the face of office supplies.  They lure me in with their siren song and I lose all sense of myself.  I see organizational possibilities, things that will turn my whole life around!  I see sticky notes and they are just about the finest thing ever created!  Oh!  Look there!  Magnetic dry erase boards on clearance!  That would be just the thing for holding lace pattern charts!

I lost all track of time and certainly lost track of the budget.  When I finally came back to my senses, I needed to trek through the entire store to return things that really have no business being in my home but which I had been powerless to resist.  Even with that little burst of responsibility, I still found myself lugging a full basket up to the checkout.  However, like I told myself as I staggered along under the weight of my purchases, they were all things I used regularly and very much on clearance.  It was only a bit more than I'd meant to spend...

Then I happened to notice that they had my tax prep program.  I'd been meaning to download that for two weeks but kept forgetting.  It wasn't any more expensive to just buy it now and one must be a responsible citizen.  One mustn't forget one's taxes!  I checked the box to make sure that it was compatible with my Mac and into the basket it went.  

At the checkout, I was rewarded for my taxpaying ways.  The clerk told me I could get a free flash drive!  All I had to do was take three steps back over to the Tax Racks and grab one!  Hooray for rewards that come with rewards!  I am the greatest bargain hunter and money manager of all time!

Of course, I had to pay for it first and then send in for the rebate but that is just a technicality.  What's another ten dollars when you've already done such a good job problem solving, rewarding, bargain-hunting and thinking about tax-paying?  Ring me up, my good man!  And tell all your friends about how you got to meet the most fiscally responsible Sheepie of all time!




Small, simple rewards are the key to surviving these difficult times.  (I threw the sock in there just so we could all pretend that I have time to knit in between two day Reward Junkets...)


I sometimes wonder why I'm even allowed to leave the house without adult supervision.  How I managed to get this far in life is a mystery to me and probably due to nothing more than dumb luck.  This all started with a simple pencil.  Most things in my life seem to start like that.  I'm usually pretty tired most of the time...

Meanwhile, the Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty has discovered the joys of Simple Rewards.  He finally decided to play with the cardboard beverage box that I tossed on the floor for his amusement.  It's free and good for hours of entertainment!



He'll never fit in there, but I'm not going to tell him that.  He's happy and hopeful and that is a good thing.


It's nice that my cat has come around to understanding my economic theories around spending less and enjoying life more.  Of course it would have been nice if he'd come to that realization before I bought him that Deluxe Scratching Toy yesterday because I felt badly about him not liking the box...

SA

8 comments:

kmkat said...

Absolutely ginormous cat-butt had me LOLing. Such a substantial kitteh he is.

I am a sucker for the office supplies, too. When I first started working at my accounting firm, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, the supply room was stocked with Pentels. Of course, they were all the ones that took .5mm lead, and I eventually discovered that I preferred the .7mm kind. But those were the days -- Pentels as far as the eye could see. Nowadays we get El Cheapos, but at least we get a choice of lead thickness...

Kath said...

I don't know that AGK would appreciate that photo, it's not exactly flattering!

My local office supply business was up for sale for quite a while and I fantasized many times about running my own little office supply store - doesn't that sound like heaven?

Beth said...

Office supplies are indeed very attractive. I had forgotten all about the big pencils from early elementary school!

Annie said...

Do you think it's something about knitters and stationery supplies? I, too find it almost impossible to resist the siren song of Staples...

Mia said...

Who knew office supplies could be so much fun? But i gotta say the gripper thingy IS cute :) I'm gonna take a closer look at my Staples catalog tomorrow, just in case :)

trek said...

I bought the Neatnik some of these Bic Velocity mechanical pencils. Big, thick 0.9mm leads and chunky grippers are a must when you are six and you grind your pencil firmly into the fibers of the paper.

Did I mention that they are also #2 pencils?

Priceless.

Mouse said...

I'm not allowed near an office supply store unless someone takes my wallet from me first.. I'm totally addicted to pens, paper, and anything else that can be had at Staples.

Karen said...

I think AGK needs the 24 pack box if he's going to get inside...