Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Impulse Control Problem

In most instances, I have the whole Impulse Control thing down to a science... I'm so good at it that I seldom ever do anything scary or risky or potentially dangerous, no matter how good an idea it seems at the moment.

Except, of course, when it come to spending money. I've been really good lately, saving up some money, paying my bills on time and all that; but something snapped this week.

First, on Monday, I let myself have a couple of treats on eBay... a crystal elephant and a spinning elephant ring (did I mention I collect elephants?) that cost very little, even with shipping... about fifty bucks, no big deal.

Then after work, I had to go out to PetCo to get a water filter for Claudius (you remember Claudius, don't you? my turtle?) so I don't have to keep washing his tank every few days. And while I was there, I bought him some new food, an extra charcoal-filter-replacement-bag and a cute little plastic shelf made to look like a natural growth so he can climb out of the water and bask under his basking lamp. There went eighty bucks.

And on the way back to the car I saw that Shoe Pavilion was having a sale, so I thought I'd run in and have a look at what was on offer... and ended up buying a pair of Rockport walkers almost exactly like the ones I already have, the most comfortable shoes I've ever owned and neutral enough to wear with anything. They were on sale! Not a great sale, but a sale nonetheless. And the ones I have are falling apart after two years of hard use. Then while I was standing at the checkout counter, I saw this gorgeous rosewood shoe-horn and bought that, too. Bye-bye seventy-five bucks!

Now this is all garden-variety shopping-addiction, nothing unusual from what I usually do whenever I have a little money in the bank. I just love to buy stuff, is all.

No, the impulse-control thing came up the next day. I was driving home, you see, and I heard this ad on the radio for Gold's Gym's Spring Special: no membership fee and only $19 a month. I used to belong to Gold's, but gave up my membership when I lost my job two years ago, since I couldn't pay the annual fee and wasn't going all that often anyway. But I've been wanting to get back into an exercise program to get rid of some of this extra weight, so it's been on my mind to keep an eye open for just such a special.

So I decided, upon hearing the radio ad, to go to Gold's and see what was up with this special. Of course it was the usual bait-and-switch, a great deal so long as you didn't want to stay with the gym for more than a few months, after which the $19 monthly fee would jump to $49. Fortunately, the salesman I talked to was the one who sold me my original membership, and he was able to turn me off that special and give me the re-enrollment package for former members: $50 and first-and-last down and $29 a month for a year (I don't do math well in my head, but I think that works out cheaper than the special).

This was a good expense, though I didn't feel quite right spilling that much money all at once, because it really is important for me to get back into a regular exercise program. But I was shocked at the speed with which I went from hearing a radio ad to plunking down $108 and agreeing to cough up an additional thirty every month in perpetuity... the whole operation took about twenty minutes.

When I got home, I was kind of jazzed about my decision, and started planning out what I need to put in my gym-bag, and when I should go, and all that sort of thing... thinking, at the same time, that I'd really like to have a better mp3 player than the crappy 250mg one I have so that I could listen to lots of different music while I was working out. What I'd really really like, what I've wanted for a long time now, is an iPod.

So I started browsing around on eBay and found one for only $89... or $102 with shipping. And without so much as looking at my bank-account to see if I could afford it, I clicked on the Buy It Now button and was the proud (if somewhat bewildered) owner of a new-in-the-box 2G iPod Nano, brushed silver color. The price can't be beat, but I should have used that money to pay the parking tickets I got last month when I forgot about street-sweeping day.

What I'm saying is, in two days I managed to spend a whole week's pay on everything except my bills. How the hell did this happen? And why do I let things like this happen? And why do I want so badly to keep going!? Like, why did I spend my lunch-hour today cruising eBay in search of a blingy rhinestone-studded iPod skin?

Do I have a problem? Do I need to do anything about it? I don't know... I do love to spend money, I love it more than almost anything else. But am I in the least in control of it, or is it entirely in control of me?

I wish I knew. I guess I'd better do some prayer and meditation on this topic. I don't like having no control over my impulses, it's scary. And if I am going to lose control over an impulse, why can't it be my sexual impulses?

In the meantime... should I get the pink rhinestone skin or the silver rhinestone skin? It's only fifteen bucks with shipping...