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It's me doing a little posing while taking a break at the Ouray, Colorado Jeep Jamboree in 1995.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Last Week I Spent Money As Though I Have It

Why, oh why did I download the latest update for my Corel Videostudio X9 program?
I'm not the kind of guy who makes big purchases without agonizing over them for days, weeks or even months. This goes for house projects, as well as the acquisition of material goodies. I had been noodling over my upstairs bathroom remodel for more than a year when I finally pulled the trigger on that. Although I knew what I wanted and needed to do for months, I didn't put the plan into motion until I accidentally stumbled across a couple of the more expensive components at ridiculously reduced prices. A $289 vanity top and sink for $59? Yep, I'll take it. Time to make the donuts.

I wasn't always so deliberate and reasoned in my spending. For years, I was the king of instant gratification. Waking up one morning a decade ago to find myself wallowing in more than $20,000 of credit-card debt, transformed me into a more reflective consumer. I began considering purchases in terms of needs rather than wants. Of course, I'm a creative guy with an uber capacity for convincing myself a new pair of athletic kicks is a need rather than a want. But, I've significantly tempered my impulse buying. In things financial, I've become annoyingly patient in my twilight years.

If you follow this blog with any degree of dedication – bless your heart and please find a hobby – you know that the preceding two paragraphs must be leading up to a commentary on some recent purchase. You would be correct; two, in fact.

Particularly with things related to my work, creative Russ can be quite innovative at convincing myself an item is a need rather than a want. In addition to a couple of house-remodeling projects on my radar for 2017, I entered the new year with three major purchases queued up for the attention of my meager disposable income: a new(er) smartphone, a new laptop and a new mattress for the master bedroom.

The smartphone and the laptop I can drop into the easier-to-justify, work-related column. Yes, I use my smartphone for personal communications and other assorted bull shitery; but in my industry, social media is the newest shiny ball and even those of us who question its value in marketing new cars, must have the tools to play the game. Anyone who seriously believes that a person tweeting a photo of a new car model with some caption is going to motivate some follower to buy said car is out of his (or her) cotton-pickin' mind. But I digress. 

Yep, I do love the larger keyboard on the iPhone 6.
I am always an iPhone generation behind. I bought a refurbished example of the 5S when the iPhone 6 launched a couple of years ago. When the 7 launched, I began watching ebay for bargains on the 6. Last week I found one for $199. I bought it. I fully expect the photos to be better. I also hoped the significantly larger keyboard would reduce my frustration and stress when typing insipid captions for the expected Instagram posts on the car events I attend. Receiving the phone on Friday, I was out bright and early on Saturday taking it to a local ATT branch for activation. After using it for something shy of 24 hours, I must admit, the larger keyboard alone is worth $199.

In this tale of the cash-register tape, the iPhone is the more frivolous, less-considered purchase. In fact, had I realized when I ordered it that I would be forced to buy a new laptop in the same week, I would have back burnered the iPhone purchase. I would have struggled with the smaller keyboard and screen for another six months. In reality, it was more a want than a need.

Here's the 411 on the laptop. My current Toshiba is at least four years old. It still functions perfectly well – albeit rather ponderously – for 80 percent of what I need. More than a week ago, however, when I opened my Corel video-editing program, a message flashed that Corel had an update that I should download. I did. And, I haven't been able to edit a video since.

For eight days, I was in daily e-mail contact with a Corel tech-support person. I assume Kevin is actually Deepankar because I would e-mail him at 10 in the morning after I attempted his most recent suggested fix, and he would respond with the next suggestion at 2 or 3 a.m. the following morning. On the positive side, he was relentless in providing suggested fixes. And those suggestions contained very detailed steps for accomplishing them. He took nothing for granted in terms of my technical illiteracy. He didn't begin his instructions with step 3, so I had to research how to complete steps 1 and 2. Nope, he walked me through each and every step.

After a week of this, however, we were wading deeper and deeper into the weeds. He had me setting up new administrator accounts on my laptop and flipping switches on, what I assume were, basic operating programs. Nothing worked.

Because acquiring a new laptop was on my 2017-purchase list, I decided to bite the bullet and move up to a computer better suited for video editing. I won't go into the details of this purchase until I have a chance to work with it for a few days. That won't happen until next weekend.

Bottom line: In week 5 of the new year, I satisfied two of my big, planned 2017 purchases. I'm not happy about this. There can always be a shortage of gigs when earning a living in the gig economy. I no longer take even my best client relationships for granted. Here today and gone tomorrow is pretty much how it works.

So, I will be a bit jittery for the next several months until I get these items paid off. Home remodeling projects will need to wait until the spring. And, as for a new mattress, I can live with the one I have until the fall, or sleep in the guestroom. Adapt and overcome is now my mantra when avoiding taking on new debt.

2 comments:

  1. I went through similar tech issues last fall with phone, printer (never could get the wireless setup right), laptop and even new cable TV setup. AT&T sent me a new receiver when cable went out and couldn't get it to work. When a tech guy finally came out, he got the old one to work but not the new one. Then AT&T hounded me to return the box they had sent even though I had returned it right away and gave them the UPS number at least twice. I think working with new technology is a way for the younger generation to weed out us old farts. The fact the tech guy's name is Kervorkian confirms it.

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    1. It's always a challenge. One of my grand nieces hooked my up with Snapchat over the Christmas holiday. I keep forgetting to check it. Messages disappear after 24 hours. I have yet to view a message or video on it.

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