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Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Opinion Pages: Read This Gripe

Getting By On Gift Cards

Boy, where do we start with this gloating yet self-pitying LA Times Opinion Page tripe?

Her husband gets $775.00 in gift cards from well meaning parents of his students at Christmas. Now they can buy a $5.00 cup of coffee at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (via gift cards) and a $50 book from Barnes and Noble for a grandmother (also with a gift card). She says she can now buy birthday gifts at nice stores, and how thrilled she is with her little "bundle of bar codes."

Yet her self pitying whinging starts when she says they had to use the American Express gift cards to buy groceries at Ralphs. She writes that they don't have enough money to pay their mortgage, that they scrape together change from their car to pay for milk, and that she had to tell her son's preschool to hold her check because they couldn't make ends meet. She wishes the mortgage company made gift cards.

Excuse me, but what's the real problem here? It seems to me that what she's asking for is that the students parents help pay her bills --from her mortage, her utilities and her preschool fees. But isn't the real issue that she and her husband, both college-educated persons, chose jobs that don't pay the kind of money they need to cover their expenses. Seems to me that her husband chose a lower paying job at a private school than going with a public school. She choose to be a writer --hey, believe me, there are no guarantees with that. She's living the life of a freelancer, and that's job to job.

We all have good months and bad months, we all have to try to budget, and sometimes we all fall short. I'm not entirely unsympathetic over financial woes, after all, I've had more than I care to think about.

But few of us have $775 in free rides to buy little luxuries. A lot of us will go home for coffee, bring lunch from home, will stave our growling stomaches until we get home. If I were her, I'd divide that $775 into twelve months. Each month I'd buy something special, and I'd figure out what I want my financial picture to look like over the next five years. Maybe she should use some of those gift cards to purchase Quicken or Quick Books and start planning, instead of just spending.

Phew What's going on with the Times?

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