Stimulated to spend or save a little

Posted March 13, 2009, at 8:30 p.m.

After a lot of thought I’ve learned something about myself this week.

I would make a pretty darn good rich person.

If I had a lot more disposable income, I would vow to do my part to help this train wreck that is our economy.

For example, the latest televised car ads feature Maine dealers who teamed up to tell us that when we buy a car it supports our local economy, local people and benefits a variety of state programs.

Well, that just makes me feel a little selfish that I’m still driving around in my 1999 Chrysler minivan with 103,000 miles on it.

There are furniture stores advertising that their products are made in the USA and that by purchasing some new furniture we would be doing our part to keep local businesses open and American people working.

I look around my family room at the nicked coffee table and the slip-covered couch and think, “I really should be doing my part.”

Even the state has gotten into the act with a not-so-subtle advertisement reminding us that the money used to purchase lottery tickets supports the state’s General Fund and the Outdoor Heritage Fund.

I don’t feel so bad about not adding more of my money into the General Fund, but, heck, I like the outdoors.

I probably should be buying more lottery tickets.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a column about the difficulties that some downtown restaurants were having staying open during this financial crisis.

I would gladly promise to eat at downtown restaurants once or twice a week, maybe more, if only I had that extra cash in my pocket.

There is nothing I enjoy more than shopping for local food at farmers markets and I do as much as I can. There would not be a mass-produced vegetable or gallon of milk or piece of meat in my house if I could afford to feed a family of five on mostly locally raised food.

One minute I’m watching financial experts tell me to limit spending and reduce credit card debt and the next I’m being encouraged to get out there and spend some of my dollars on new cars and furniture and lottery tickets and dinners out.

What’s a family to do?

I figure that unless I hit the lottery, my income level isn’t going to change drastically. So I find comfort in the fact that while I’m not supporting my local car dealers I am supporting my local car mechanic. My van needs a bit more TLC than it used to.

I do buy a lottery ticket on occasion. As for new furniture, well, I have a household full of teenagers, so new furniture isn’t on the horizon for a few more years. There are still occurrences when my family room is made into a fort or at least a casual kick-your-feet-up movie night location for a large group of kids. Grape juice and Popsicles stain a new couch as easily as an old one.

I don’t know what the economy will be like when my kids all flee the nest, but perhaps I’ll be in a place at that time when I can replace some of my furniture.

Of course, then we’ll be up to our ears in college tuition debt.

But tonight my cheap, cheap banker husband miraculously asked me to go out for dinner.

It may be a couple of cheeseburgers and draft beers, but it’s a couple of hours away from the house and what I can do is say, “Great! Let’s go downtown!”

Rich or not, that’s not so bad!

reneeordway@gmail.com

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