I have a problem. Oh hush, you! I’m well aware my problems number in the plural, but today I wish to speak of a specific problem that renders me a disappointment in the eyes of my fellow citizens. In fact, the greater Western society might even label me a traitor. The overlords of our governmental and financial systems certainly would. You see, I have an abnormal aversion to spending money.
I know, I know, penultimate First World Problem but holy excremental droppings, Batman, am I messed up when it comes to spending money. I’m a trainwreck of anxiety, indecision, and stinginess. Seriously, this is beyond frugality or simple prudence with cash. I make Ebenezer Scrooge look like a Saudi Prince on a drug-fueled, Las Vegas shopping spree. I hate myself for it, yet I have zero ability to change. Testicular shock treatments couldn’t fix this.
Over the years of our marriage, my wife and I have proven ourselves to be quite adept at saving money. This is something we take a great deal of pride in. Oh we’ve been fortunate, absolutely. Our careers in the oil patch have been lucrative despite our inability to successfully catch a ride on the stock option gravy train to opulence. We have no want nor worry financially and for this we are grateful.
We have spent many years diligently saving all our disposable income. We’ve made significant efforts to pay off two mortgages as fast as possible and when we were mortgage free, we stashed away the extra income for retirement, our kids’ and nieces’ education, and some nebulous “future” wherein we’d start living our dreams and treating ourselves.
The problem, it seems, is that we never detailed when that “future” actual was to arrive. We started this savings plan in our late twenties. We are now in our early forties. By any reasonable measure the “future” has in fact arrived. Theoretically we should be gleefully spending some of our savings on pampering ourselves a bit. But every time we sit down to plan, say, an exotic vacation, or even a modest one, my brain go all bananas and my sphincter clamps up like a trash compactor, leaving me unable to justify the expenditure.
You must understand, I can pace around a clothing store for half an hour or more trying to decide if $30 is a reasonable price for jeans. I do likewise at Value Village for $10 used jeans. It really is a sickness. When it comes time to possibly purchase a vacation package costing several thousand dollars, good Lord, it’s like tossing a 16 year old onto a pornography shoot and asking him to regurgitate the periodic table. It’s nothing short of a miracle that I own a vehicle, let alone a house.
This affliction causes me great angst because I inevitably spend days upon days searching the internet circuitously for vacation packages, apparently convinced that eventually I’ll stumble upon a secret deal that nobody knows about. That once in a lifetime offer where a marvelous, exotic, luxurious, all-inclusive vacation costs $126 … total.
The problem I have with these vacation packages Canadians so eagerly book each winter is that excessive selection is added to the equation. This only exacerbates my brain cramping. As if crazy dollars wasn’t trouble enough, there are by my estimates approximately 4,300,274,883 all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean. It’s a rough estimate. I am supposed to pick the exact one that is perfect for my family and priced appropriately or, preferably, on sale. Online reviews are practically useless since every resort is fantastic and horrible at the same time. The few that get genuinely great reviews and have awesome stuff for kids tend to be priced equivalent with murder for hire.
Take Beaches Turks and Caicos for example. This place looks fantastic, a genuine Caribbean paradise. It damn well better be, since you apparently have to book two years ahead if you want a low end room. What is available now, for a family of four, starts at $10,000 and goes up. In US dollars! There is a room currently listed at $55,000. Who in the hell of all that is evil would pay that much for a week’s vacation? The beach sand better best be made gold dust and I better be welcome to take a scoop back home with me.
And it’s not like turning my attention to less glamourous locals back on the US mainland helps any. Even Vegas, which can seem a deal at first, turns tortuous once you account for all the extra fees that get tacked on at hotels and shit. Of course, travelling during March Break isn’t a genius move either. Wishing to travel when it’s opportune to do so conveniently triggers black market organ level pricing by the airlines.
If three ghosts showed up tonight, the Ghost of Vacations Past, Present, and Future, I’d climb right into the grave beneath my tombstone rather than turn a new leaf and joyously start spending money. Until that moment I’m destined to waste away my days aimlessly searching, hating my brain, all the while marveling at those around me with no such monkeys on their backs, means to do so be damned! “Hey family, let’s go on a vacation. What? It costs ten grand? Oh well, I’ll just hold off another month on that new BMW. Ha! I’m just kidding. This is what our HELOC was made for! Let’s go, Honey. Come along, kids. We’ve got memories to make!”