Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mummy McScrooge

There are some people who are good at saving money and there are some who are not.

I definitely come into the latter category, which may be surprising considering I’m the daughter of a Scot - purportedly one of the most frugal of nationalities in the world, even though my own experience of their generosity suggests otherwise.

My Dad, for example, clearly missed out on the McScrooge gene; he was generous to a fault and never focussed much on how well his funds were (or weren’t) travelling. He just worked hard, paid his bills and did his best to provide for us, God bless him!

So you might think that, having skipped my Dad’s generation, the frugal gene may have imbedded itself quietly into the next one. Not so. Well, certainly not into the DNA of this little black duck!

Yes, I’m doing okay. I’ve helped raise a family and we all know that costs money. And yes, we eat out sometimes, we travel sometimes, we live in a decent home (occasional dishevelment and dog odour notwithstanding) and we generally don’t have to resort to a ‘baked beans on toast’ existence. But we definitely haven’t quite moved to that next level of fiscal comfort. No mansion or magnate existence for us!

And so, it’s with some surprise and more than a little (possibly misplaced) pride that I’ve discovered where in my family the McScrooge gene has settled itself. It’s clearly landed in my Number Two Son, who has taken to giving me withering looks when discussing my saving prowess (or lack thereof) and rolling his eyes when I own up to my Visa Card debt.

His new bible is ‘The Barefoot Investor’. He’s devised household budgets that would have Wayne Swan envious; splitting up his bank accounts so every mortgage payment and bill is taken care of and his savings are slowly but surely building up. He’s got a shares portfolio. He’s clued up. He’s committed and disciplined. He’s frugal and focused. He’s everything his mother is not when it comes to money!

I look at him and wonder if there was a Murdoch or Packer baby mix up in my maternity ward way back in 1982? Should his middle name be Rupert or James?

“Can I have my real child back?” I grizzle as he steers me resolutely away from a boutique or book shop, or berates me for buying lunch when I could have made it.

But his insistence is working on me. I now have several ‘online bank’ accounts for savings and bills. This means I can’t get at the money easily as there’s more of a process to transfer funds, and they take a couple of days to clear. I like to think of it as a ‘cooling off’ period, for my desired purchase always seems like such a good idea at the time. (Of course I need that new orange scarf! I’ve only got ten others!)

With my new banking methods, however, I have to go home, log on, plead with some tight-wad digital bank manager to let me have my money and then wait a couple of days before he deigns to give it to me. By that time I’ve changed my mind anyway so, for an impulse spender like me, this time-delay caper is a real boon.

So anyway, if you’ll please excuse me, I’m just going to log on and have another look at the growing 000s in my bank account.

And after that I’m going straight onto Google to see if I can figure out which mega-rich family might be missing their son and heir – and how much they’ll pay me to get him back!

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