All About Trey

Life, Travel, Adventure

Discretionary Spending Diet

Oh Quicken, how you mock me. Every month I enter my checks, my deposits, my trips to the ATM, and I balance my check book. Yes I actually balance my check book every month. And every month I have a little reminder of all of the crap that I pay for. Going through my VISA bill is like a little trip down memory lane and most of the time it's what I expect, and sometimes, it's the "What the hell did I buy that for?" Putting everything into Quicken helps me put all of my purchases into in perspective. And one of the things I've learned is that I've had three (yes three!) week long vacations this year and none of them were cheap. And for the past couple of months, to pay off my VISA bill, I've had to dip into my home equity line of credit (which has a lower interest rate than my credit card). Which is not good. So it's time for a diet. A discretionary spending diet. It's time to bring my lunch to the office, not eat out so much, and refrain from spur of the moment spending. I make a pretty decent paycheck, but I think my list of "necessities" needs to be re-evaluated again. Suze Orman, who for some reason rubs me the wrong way, talks about how we bleed money sometimes, the daily Starbucks coffee, the newpaper, a bottle of water. We sort of leak money as we go about our day. So it's time to plug that leak, atleast a bit.

Speaking of plugging a leak, I did not see W's speech last week. But like most people, I expected him to throw money at the problem. That's what the government does these days. I often wonder if there is someone deep in some office in DC who's got the master Quicken file for the federal government and if he ever gets tired of just seeing red. And I wonder if that guy and the guy over at the Bureau of Printing and Engraving who works the night shift printing out more and more money to pay for W's and Congress's Triple Titanium VISA ever get together to commiserate over a beer. I expect the conversation goes like this:

Guy number one: "We're over budget again."
Guy number two: "That's okay, I'll just print more money."
Guy number one: "But printing more money isn't the right answer, we need to cut spending."
Guy number two: "But that's hard. Printing money is easy. We can worry about balancing the budget later."
Guy number one: "But if we don't do the hard part now, it will only get harder."
Guy number two: "But printing is always easy."
Guy number one: "But we'll never solve the budget problem this way."
Guy number two: "Don't sweat. The next guy will fix the problem. In the meantime, let's have another round. It's on me."

And they'll get together every night and have the same conversation. Sort of like a scene from "Waiting for Godot."

And I'm not sure whether I should laugh or cry. Laugh at the utter absurdity of the reckless spending, or cry at the financial ruin we will be passing on to generations to come.