Thursday, April 9, 2009


What are needs? Besides the basic life needs. Someone I know finished reading Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan and apparently she gives suggestions on safeguarding your money. From what I understand, one should only purchase "needed" things. This, of course, led me to ask, "What is a need?"

Possibly, one person's need is an other's want.. or vice versa. Does a city dweller need a car if public transportation is available? Does a college student need a personal computer if computers are available at the university? These are possibly bigger needs v. wants.

I understand that having cable TV is a want. Purchasing books rather than getting them from the library is a want (although the book stores would sorely miss my revenue). Having my hair colored at a salon rather than coloring it at home is a want.

Shallow wants/needs are a bit harder to discern. Do I switch from gourmet teas to Lipton if Lipton is cheaper? Do I stop wearing mascara to save money? Do I stop driving 2-4 hours to see my kids because the cost of gas adds up? And do making any of these changes really result in significant savings?

I'm getting twitchy just typing this because I have long held the "my wants are my needs" philosophy. Yes, I've been spoiled. Do I think I need to strongly assess my wants v. needs? Yes, probably so. But, (she whined) it is so hard!!

I struggle with the idea of saving for retirement because I don't know how long I will live. What if the world really does end in 2012 (according to the Mayans), and I've been putting money away for naught. I understand that material things don't buy happiness. But if I'm going to bother with retirement funds I'd like to be able to experience the joy of spending them.

The way I see it, in order to really stick to needs, I must cut out cable, buying books and magazines, buy store coffee rather than gourmet coffee and tea, use only the card supplies I have rather than buying more. I could groom my dog myself, color my own hair, stop getting facials, massages, and pedicures (I don't get them often), not buy new clothes or shoes and use what I have. I would stop buying lattes, expensive eye shadow, candles, plants, and would stop going out to eat. But, would I enjoy my life as much? At age 54 am I to stop doing what I enjoy?

Hard questions for each to answer. I'm trying....I more often fail to say no to wants than I succeed, but I am trying. I'm going to save money by not buying Suze's book but may browse it at B&N. Maybe then I'll have a better grasp of the concept.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


My family did not have much money when I was growing up. My father went to school on the GI Bill and my mother stayed home with us kids. My father became a teacher, my mother went to school to become a teacher; there was not much spare change for extras. My parents did not fight about the lack of earnings because my father believed it was senseless to argue about what they didn't have. My financial planner knows my parents so understands the origins of my nonchalance about investments. Understands, not appreciates.

This attitude carries over to my feelings about taxes. I took my tax information to the accountant today so he can prepare the documents that I am too phobic to configure. There should not be any surprises this year but whether I'm paying in or getting back, my reaction to tax time is the same each year. There is little I can do about taxes so to complain is a grand waste of my time.

We live in a country that provides much for its citizens and those provisions cost money. I appreciate the highways and roads, the educational institutions,the parks, protections provided by the armed forces, police and fire departments. I have freedoms people in other countries envy, and I decided long ago that paying my taxes was what I/we do to ensure our country keeps running. No, I'm not always happy with how my tax dollars are spent but that goes with the territory. Are there better ways in which to tax citizens? Maybe. But I don't expect to see a change in taxes during my lifetime.

I also like my accountant. I don't pretend to understand the tax forms and tend to understand the system intuitively. I have numbers and notes scribbled on pieces of paper, he cheerfully takes them, and doesn't make me feel stupid. I also called late last week for today's appointment and was assured there was ample time for him to do the taxes. That was great news! He charges half the price of H&R Block, I enjoy chatting with him, and he will get my taxes to me in time for filing.

Most friends think I'm nuts for this outlook. That's okay.