Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Taking Care Of Things

Overall, I take care of my things. I have way to much "stuff" and far too many things, but I've always been good about keeping things "in good nick" as they say. I polish my shoes, make sure I sew back on buttons, get zippers fixed, keep the lawn mower tuned, I get the oil changed in the car every 4000 miles. I put the effort into making sure the items I have last. I've always been like this, yeah it's a bit nerdy, but it's what I've always done.

Not the case with my neighbors kids. My neighbor is just beside herself right now. She came over last night to catch up (we have pretty much been passing like ships in the night) and vent. She has two daughters, one 19 and the other 17. Both are causing her a lot of angst-most of it typical teenager stuff. The biggie that is getting to my neighbor is the recent lack of respect for things and possessions by both girls. My neighbors don't have a lot of money. They do what many of us do, shop at consignment and thrift stores, scour Craigs list and E-Bay and usually only get "brand new" when they absolutely must.

The two girls have gone through the following items in the past three months: 3 cell phones, 2 camping tents, several pairs of shoes, 1 MP3 player, one very expensive car repair costing $900 because they did not heed the warning lights, two jackets, and one lap top. One of the girls left her car unlocked and had stolen, the MP3 player, a cell phone, a 5 person tent, and a jacket. The same child did not think to tell her parents that the Service Engine soon light and other warning lights had been on for a week and subsequently was 1/4 cup short of letting the car engine seize from lack of oil. The other daughter lost her cell phone "somewhere", dropped her lap top and damaged the screen. Both girls went camping one weekend, lost another jacket and literally dumped the replacement tent in the backyard, where it has gotten very wet, dirty and now a bit moldy. They did not even take the time to hang up the tent or store it properly, just dumped it on the ground (along with the sleeping bags).

The response of the girls is "Oh, Mom can you just buy us a new one?" "Just buy us a new one?" I have an issue with this. From what I've been told and what I've observed, both these girls who should know better are just taking advantage of their parents. My neighbor admits that she has in the past just gotten "new" to replace the old, but this time, the cost of replacement is pushing $2,000, $2,000 she does not have. I really could not say much other than maybe she should try to sit the girls down and tell them that from now on, phone, Mp3 players, clothes, etc, can be replaced out their pocket money and not hers. Maybe she and her husband should share the household budget with the girls and that a spare $2,000 is just not in the checking account. Both girls work and they can use some of that money for those items, I'm sure their paychecks are not being stashed in a savings account or E-fund.

What has this got to do with personal finance. Well, it's about making do with what you have and making what you have last. I do realize we live in a disposable society, and that items do have a specific life span and need to be replaced. Furnaces break down, lawn mowers die, computers have hard drive issues, vacumes stop working, things happen.

I know I sound like everyone's mother, but put some time and effort in to mainaing your items and clothes and they will last and serve you well.

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