Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Thing That Couldn’t Die, Part 3: “I’m So Bored!”



Lindsay Lohan, in a still from Liz and Dick

When we first decided to get out of debt, I thought the hardest part would be finding enough extra money in the budget to actually put a dent in our student loans.  We always seemed to just break even with our income and expenditures, so I figured it was going to be tough finding more than maybe one or two hundred dollars to spare at the end of each month.  That certainly wasn’t going to get us out of $100K in student loan debt any time soon.

It turns out that finding extra money wasn’t that difficult.  Once we drew up our budget, got on the envelope system, and cut out most unnecessary spending, we found plenty of money to roll into our debt snowball.  When we paid off our car in only a few months, I felt like we were really on a roll.  And then, as we got to the bigger loans, the ones that were going to take more than just a few months to pay off, I realized I had been completely wrong about why getting out of debt is so difficult.  

It’s not the money.  It’s the sheer, unadulterated boredom.

For starters, there’s the fact that we don’t have cable.  Actually, we technically do, but it’s not real cable.  My husband needs wireless internet for his job, and the cable company throws in the basic package with that, so we get a few local networks, along with the public access channel (watching that city council debate about filling the pothole near Safeway was a real nail-biter).  For some reason, we also have access to on-demand programming.  I think this is a mistake on the cable company’s part, but since I don’t possess a masochistic level of integrity, I have yet to alert them to the error.  It’s not like we’re getting the latest hit shows, anyway.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that if I find myself watching another King of Queensrerun while folding laundry on a Sunday night, I’m gonna have to shoot somebody.

And then there are the games.  Last Saturday night, my husband and I played chess while listening to music.  It would have been fun and relaxing, had we not done the exact same thing on at least ten thousand previous nights this year alone.  I resorted to dragging out my moves, just so we wouldn’t have to start a brand new game all over again.  

“Why is it taking you so long to move? You’re in check.” 

I knew the only thing I could do was move my king from e1 to d1, but I just couldn’t.  Once I did, the game would be over within three more moves, and then we’d have to play a re-match or get out the Scrabble board.

Don’t get me wrong.  We don’t just play board games.  If we have enough money in our “entertainment” envelope, we might go to the drive-in theater (two new movies for the price of one, and only $6.50 per person), but normally we can only afford to do that about once a month.  

And then there’s the most fun form of free entertainment.  Last month, I think we set a record for highest number of copulations performed by a married couple within a thirty-day time period.  But, at the end of the day, we’re Americans.  Sometimes we just want to go to the mall.  

Tonight, we’re going to a holiday party and the hostess is offering an ornament exchange.  We bring an ornament, we get an ornament.  Since I don’t shop for much of anything but groceries these days, I was so excited while browsing Hallmark.  I must have looked like Jodie Foster in Nell, fondling in wonderment all of the shiny, colorful baubles that hung from a small artificial tree near the entrance.  I felt a newfound sympathy for old people who become slow and confused at cash registers.  Since I rarely find myself transacting business in a store these days, all the bells and whistles befuddle me.  A mere millisecond after I proudly placed my lovingly chosen silver snowflake ornament on the counter in front of the cashier, she rang it up and shoved it into a purple bag.  

“Oh!” I replied, surprised at her speed and wondering where I put the twenty-dollar bill I’d grabbed out of our entertainment envelope earlier in the day.  As I fumbled around in my pockets and my purse, I just knew a spoiled twenty-something was behind me, tapping her foot impatiently and texting her friend about the annoying woman in front of her who’d obviously never visited the twenty-first century before. 

I know the envelope system is good for us, and we are saving a lot of money, but I really can’t wait for the day when I can watch a shamelessly Razzie-baiting, turkey of a movie on real cable, like Lindsay Lohan's latest comeback vehicle, Liz and Dick.  Since we’re not out of debt yet, I’m waiting for it to show up on demand, somewhere between the King of Queens reruns and the potholes.  

4 comments:

  1. The life of a student debtor can be a little depressing. Especially, when you juxtapose that with Boomers who graduated from State U. - with a BA in Art History - landing solid careers, without any student loans.

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  2. Indeed, it can be! Boredom really is the most difficult part, I think. I can't believe there was ever a time when student loans were not the bane of nearly every graduate's existence. I really wish student loans were one of the things to go during fiscal cliff negotiations. If we could get private student loans eligible for bankruptcy again, I think that would be the last nail in the student loan coffin. Colleges and universities might have to make a 4-year degree affordable once again, if federal loans went away and private lenders actually had to consider the likelihood of repayment before approving borrowers.

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