Protected: Catharsis

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Phone – All’s Well That Ends Well

Well, I like the new phone. It has more features than I know what to do with. So, I’m ignoring a lot of them. The flashy light patterns when it rings appeals to the sensationalist in me. The only thing I wish I had now that I got something close to it is the ability to sync with iCal and Mac Address Book. It only does MS Outlook on Windows, and Missing Sync doesn’t support that phone. Sigh.

I did go whole hog and get the bluetooth, handsfree headset. It’s so comfy that I forget that I’m wearing it and the sound is clear and I have to say it’s pretty cool to be riding along on my bike and just reach up and touch my ear and answer my phone and talk to my boyfriend while pedaling idly along next to the creek and through a field on an abundantly sunny spring day.

I will probably never go back to a land line. I’ve been assimilated. But I still leave the phone in the car or turn it off when I go to a movie or to lunch with a friend!!! I make look like a tool with my funny headset (although it’s pretty well covered by my hair so it just looks like I’m talking into space) but god forbid I start acting like one.

The bad news is that I forgot to send in the rebate form on time for the original phone. So, I ended up paying $40 for a phone in the end. The goods news though is that I ended up with one of the crappy phones and customer service said to just chuck it. I didn’t feel right about throwing radioactive waste into the garbage can. So, I took it to the Cingular store in town and they suggested that, since it does basically work, I donate it to the Battered Women’s Shelter which installs a chip in them so that they can only be used to call 911 and then the shelter gives them out to their clients. Tax deduction: $50. Good feeling: Priceless.

Playing and Companionship

Every so often I am sent little nuggets of wisdom that seem to come at apropos times in my life. A friend reminded me today of a story I had forgotten. His therapist, when she was in analysis, was asked by her therapist what she thought primary relationships were for. She said something like, “To share in our burdens, to help each other feel loved, to work on issues, etc.”

The analyst said, “Wrong. There are only two things primary relationships are for: (1) playing, (2) companionship”.

Phone Karma

I just must have bad phone karma. You all have heard my previous phone company woes. When I signed up for Cingular on, I bought the cheapy flip phone: an LG C1500. The phone had its quirks. Sometimes it couldn’t read the smart chip, sometimes it would drop calls, sometimes it would not connect people that were calling me (and I know I wasn’t out of the service range because I would immediately receive their voicemails), sometimes people would call and it would ring once and then go to busy. It was frustrating. So, the Cingular store swapped out the smart chip. Still same problem. 2 weeks later, they gave me a different LG C1500. Same problem. 3 weeks later, I take the phone back again and now the store can’t swap me phones because it’s beyond their 30 day policy and so I have to deal with Cingular directly. So, I sit on hold for 20 minutes. They send me a replacement LG C1500. This one can’t even pick up a signal within a 1/2 mile of my house.

So, I go over to the Cingular store and *buy* a phone that I intend to return within 30 days and get all my money back just so I have a working phone until I get this sorted out. In the meantime, I spent AN HOUR AND A HALF on the phone with Cingular tonight. First, I had to sit on hold for 20 minutes to talk to their warranty department only to tell my store ALL OVER AGAIN for like THE FIFTH TIME. I’m starting to cry and pull my hair out and the guy is trying to be accomodatingand running back and forth to his supervisor to see what kinds of exceptions they can make for me because all they are allowed to do is debug the same phone over and over again. I tell him that the only way I will be happy at this point is if Cingular gives me an equivalent phone by a different maker. So, he transfers me to customer service and I wait on hold their for probably another 20 minutes. The whole time I’m fighting between pacing around the house in frustration and not wanting to pace so far that I lose my signal and my place in line.

Anyway, I finally talk to somebody at customer service who asks me how he can help. I tell him the first thing he can do to help me is to read my file so that I don’t have to repeat my story anymore. Which he does. And is appropriately empathetic. I explain to him how many hours of time on hold and driving back and forth to the store using Cingular has taken out of the last month of my life. He asks me what kind of phone I want as a replacement. I say, I don’t need a bunch of features. I just want a flip phone with a front screen so that I can see who is calling.

The only one of that sort available is a really nice one with a super high tech antenna and camera and bluetooth and USB connectivity. Which he is now sending me. For free. And he reimbursed me for all my ring tones even though I didn’t buy them through the Cingular site or pay for them with my Cingular account.

So, I’m back to being a happy customer. Let’s hope the new phone rawks.

Every Little Bit

OK, so the book I’m reading is the hyperpositive “Start Late, Finish Rich: A No-fail Plan for Achieving Financial Freedom at Any Age” by David Bach.

As mentioned previously, rule #1 was “Don’t beat yourself up about what you don’t understand about money or about not having started sooner. Let’s move on to what you can do now.”

Rule #2 is finding out where you have more than you actually do but just forgot about it because you choose to use it on little things here and there. He talks about what kind of money you could be making just by putting away an extra $5 or $10 a day. For example, the table below (from p. 39) shows a forecast using a 10% annual rate of return on investment (which is more than you’d make by putting it into a savings account and less than you’d make by putting it into a mutual fund):

Daily Investment Monthly Investment 10 Years 20 Years 30 Years 40 Years
$5 $150 $30,727 $113,905 $339,073 $948,612
$10 $300 $61,453 $227,811 $678,146 $1,897,224

It’s got me reaching for the $1 cookie instead of the $2 pastry. And making myself a bowl of yogurt with slighted defrosted frozen berries rather than picking up a smoothie. Or making myself a “2/3 rule” for indulgent purchases like clothes and song downloads: whatever I was going to buy, buy 2/3 of that, and then if next week I’m still pining for it, then go back and buy it.

It’s kinda like learning to take the stairs instead of the elevator in order to get in shape. Pretty soon, the stairs are no problem, so you actually start going up and extra flight and back down just for the bite-sized challenge of it. Most of us can find $5 a day somewhere. Order a small latte instead of a tall if you can’t skip the trip to the coffee shop altogether. Fill your bottle up with tap water rather than Evian. If you smoke or drink alcohol regularly, you could really be in for some profit. I had a friend in Computer Science graduate school who quit smoking. He wrote himself a little program that took the cost of the number of cigarettes that he usually smoked in a day and then kept a counter running as the days passed. Every time he logged in, he was greeted with the message “Congratulations! You’ve already saved $xyz dollars by not smoking.” Now, that was a motivator.

The question I’m trying to keep in mind when I make small, regular purchases is to ask myself, “Can I live with the disappointment of not buying this or of buying the other thing which would do but isn’t exactly what I wanted?”

Maybe I’ll motivate myself by adding my daily spending reduction decisions to my blog. (I’m sure it will bore the crap out of you, sorry, but it will keep me honest and keep my momentum going.)