Monday, June 3, 2013

Middle Class Question Mark?

First, for some general housekeeping, I just want to let you all know that I am in the midst of re-laying-out my blog. Not re-designing really, because I don't know anything about designing anyone or anything. But I'm going to change my format and layout and banner and all of that. I don't know why I'm telling you, other than that everyone seems to warn everyone when things are changing, so I just wanted to do my part.


This weekend was lovely. On Friday night I had this romantic notion of my Saturday morning being spent out on our back patio with my new San Diego Zoo mug, drinking tea and knocking out some freelance assignments while the sun rose and birds sang and flutes serenaded me. So I did that, except it was 400 degrees. I still drank tea out of that mug and I sweat like a Bikram yogi, while Aaron cut the grass and Jethro un-gracefully rolled around in it but I loved it.

After giving Jet a bath, some cleaning and a trip to the gym I picked up some groceries and came back home. As Aar was helping me bring the bags in from the car, he noticed I had bought brand-name paper towels and decided to exclaim, with arms to the sky and eyebrows to the ceiling, WE ARE MIDDLE CLASS NOW! And then he gave me a giant high five and started to dance a little bit, but just a little bit.

I have never bought brand name paper towels, I don't think. I am nervous around money. Around it, with it, without it, etc. It makes me nervous. I can literally pinpoint a memory to you of standing in Claire's at the mall as a wee pre-pubescent and picking out a pair of earrings and then thinking to myself, well, do I want these earrings or do I want to go to a nice college? I can't remember if I chose the earrings or the college but as fate would have it, I earned a free ride to Ohio U, and every now and then I wonder how many more earrings I'd have now if I had known that all along. ANYhoo.

Whenever I'm about to spend money, on say, paper towels, for example, I always imagine what else I could be spending it on. You might think that makes me a wise spender or something nice like that, but really it makes me a hyper-obsessive malcontent for whom grocery shopping is one of Dante's levels. Because seriously? Paper towels? When I could just buy the off-brand ones for three months and then have enough for a pair of Nine West's or an upgrade at a hotel in Fiji?

Anyway I've come to learn after 4 odd years or so of living in my own space that some things you just cannot buy off-brand. Lysol wipes, Windex, bug spray (ouch) and, new to the list, paper towels. There is just no comparing. And 4 years is a sufficient test period, don't you think? So we're a Bounty family now.

Brand-or-no-brand theory notwithstanding, Aaron's exclamation made me laugh but also made me think. We have been so blessed since we moved to Arizona. Ever since those first few paychecks, our income has steadily grown over the past few years, through new jobs and promotions and what have you. But somehow, each time we get a little bump, we find a way to spend it (for the most part.) We have built up a modest savings for rainy and/or pregnant days (I AM NOT PREGNANT I AM MAKING A POINT) and have spent a pretty penny or two on some pretty awesome trips (Ireland, etc.) but for the most part, we spend what we make. Some of it is on paying down student loans, but still. We spend and we spend good.

I've always wondered if we'd reach a point where we'd step back and say ok, if we make any more than we do now, let's just save/give away all of it. Because we don't need to go beyond this point. Our house has a roof and enough rooms for us; our clothes are not falling apart; our bellies are full. Enough.

I think we should reach that point. Whether it's an exact dollar amount or a checklist of needs, we should have a threshold. The hard thing is, I think it's important that we decide on that threshold now before we get there. Otherwise I don't think we'll ever know we're there.

I'm still not sure what it is, but I want to start being intentional about figuring that out. And being able to give a good, Biblical, spirit-led response to why it is what it is. As in, why it includes Mary Kay mineral powder foundation and a yearly family trip to South Carolina. Because I think it will have to include those things.

So what about you? Do you have a threshold? Does it include Bounty paper towels because mine includes Bounty paper towels.

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