Friday, March 10, 2017

Wishing Upon Stars

For those of us in certain income brackets, issues which need money thrown at them seem to crop up in clusters. I'm going through one right now and it has me frustrated. Bear with me while I, more or less, vent.

I made a decision last year to celebrate my World of Warcraft guild's 10th anniversary at Disney World with a bunch of guild mates. I made a budget to enable saving for that event only to have said budget blow apart by the sewer backing up at the same time the blower on the furnace decided to work only 50% of the time. I am grateful I had some kind of savings to fix both problems, but those emergencies set me way back. I redid the budget and worried that I would need to cut way to the bone, once again, in order to make this trip, on which I had placed a deposit back in September, a reality.

An acquaintance, who is even less of an acquaintance after this, (She's a friend of a friend so I can legitimately avoid her.) was at a lunch with my friend who inquired as to the state of my sewer. Gotta admit, "Can you flush your toilet now without it backing up into the basement?" is lovely lunch conversation. I mentioned getting both things fixed but having to use my Disney fund for this. This woman, whom I have met twice before, and I can tell you where I was, such was the impression she made, said, "Seriously, you're bitching about having to use savings for Disney to fix house problems? Do you know how many people can't even dream about going to Disney and you're bitching about having a 'set back'?" and she made those air quotes when she said "set back".

I pride myself on not letting things get to me. Life hasn't been kind but I've learned to roll with the punches. If I get called out on something, I look at the comment to see if there is any truth to what they are saying.

I've put money down on this. It means a great deal to me. I know there are people, probably in my neighborhood, who struggle for mac and cheese on a Tuesday night and hold no illusions about getting anywhere near the mouse house. But this is my life and my money and her comment reeks of jealousy and self-righteousness. As I type this, I can see the glare in her eye as she looked at me. My friend said, "Yeah, it sucks when you're saving for something and emergencies strike." The woman muttered, "Heh. Disney is not an emergency."

Fast forward to February. if I could, I would be just like Ned Flanders in "The Trouble With Trillions" episode.

If it were possible to get all the paperwork I need AND have the IRS accept returns early, I'd be doing my taxes on New Year's Day. My feeling is if I get a refund, I want it now. If I owe money, I need to know so I can save and send it in on time. But, institutions are terrible, it seems to me, about sending out financial forms so I don't always have everything until the end of January. Therefore, it's about mid-February when I sit down to do the deed. This year, I got enough back to pay for the bulk of my October Disney trip. I stuffed that straight into the savings account. "I'm not going to touch that," I told myself. "That's for Disney." Or so I thought.

Enter life.

A year ago, I got new glasses with my tax refund.

I had an eye doctor appointment in early February. It's a yearly thing now because of my RA. I have RA-induced rosacea of the eye. It just means my eyes are prone to drying out, which makes them itchy and red. Then the cornea can get scratched more easily. I'm to use artificial tears four times a day. I'm not very good on the remembering to do that part. It's a rare day when I put in drops four times. Usually I remember three times.

Anyway, I noticed, in December, my eyesight had deteriorated just a bit. Some things, particularly in the distance, are blurry or have a blurred edge to them. This was verified in the eye exam so I need new glasses. This will be the third year in a row my prescription has changed. I may have to get used to the idea this is my reality; a minor change every year.

So, I set out to find new glasses. It's a racket. I've purchased glasses online from for the last 3 years. I was able to get good deals, but I dislike the frames Coastal has this year, plus, they are more expensive. Wandered over to another place, Zenni Optical. Their prices were better than Coastal but their frames were no better looking. Then I found a place called Glasses USA.

Here I found a couple pair I liked and, initially, their prices looked very good. Then you get into actually purchasing glasses and their "Glasses $95 including lenses" goes down the tube. I have to get bifocals, which cost more. When a company says, "Glasses $95 including lenses", that's what I expect to pay with additions like tax and shipping. They offered a 50-65% discount but that was only on frames and didn't apply if you picked a frame on sale. The costs kept adding up until I was way over what I wanted to pay for glasses. They have a 3-month payment plan, but they put a hold on your funds for the full amount. That's not a payment plan. So, I told them I was severely disappointed in all the wording on their site and will be taking my business elsewhere. They have told me to call them because they have a "deal" for me. No thanks.

But the big kicker is the lack of liquid funds to even get glasses. Oh sure, I have Disney money. I could easily afford glasses IF I pillaged my Disney fund. There is another online glasses company, Warby Parker, who advertises more realistically, "Glasses FROM x". But they are much more expensive and I really cannot afford $345 for glasses unless I take the money from my Disney account. The back door needs to be fixed. I have to get it working again. I don't see that as a small repair. I can fund that, again, IF I take money from my Disney account.

Another acquaintance, more sympathetic to this frustration, said, "You have 6 months before you have to hand over the rest of the money for the vacation. You should be able to save what you take out in 6 months." The operative word there is 'should'. While I have the vacation paid for, I want spending money and money for, frankly, impulse purchases. As I did when I went to BlizzCon and Disneyland in 2015, I want to do Christmas shopping. My tax return wasn't enough to cover those things. I still need to save and it's hard to save when life throws these things at you.

Then, I find out, at the beginning of this month, one of my late English pen pal's daughters and her family, are coming to Florida for two weeks; Disney World and Universal. I have not seen Elizabeth since 1996. She's married with two kids of her own. Her dad and brother are coming and I last saw them in 2005. "You're welcome to come to our villa and stay for a few days. It would be wonderful to see you and we have an extra room," she said.

Oh dear. If I plunder the Disney fund, I can go. I have the vacation days. I wouldn't go for more than a down, hang out, back weekend. But if I take money for this from the fund, where does it stop? This is not, by any stretch, an emergency. Yet, they are so close. I'd need airfare and a car and money for food. I'm content with not going to either Disney and Universal and just hanging around the villa. When Anne died, we kind of lost touch with each other. What a unique opportunity to reconnect, and yet...

Those words above, from a woman I don't like, rankle me, stick in my craw, so to speak. I know there are people much less off than me. Part of my refund went to charities I feel strongly about. This whole glasses thing has me looking ahead. Every year, I fear, I'm going to be in this position of needing new glasses and not finding anything which fits my budget. I'm not looking at frame which cost $170, either. I find those to be ugly, frankly. I also haven't posted my door problem to a site called "Thumbtack" where companies and handymen can give you an estimate on what they think it will cost to do what you want done. Maybe I'm way overestimating what I think fixing the door will cost. I could be pleasantly surprised.

This is merely a post expressing frustration at life and how it seems to gang up on us. I'm going to make do with my glasses for right now. I have no desire to call Glasses USA. If they want my business, they will tell me in writing, what kind of discount they are offering. Otherwise, at the end of the month, I'll schlep myself out to glasses stores and have a look. It may not yield anything, but at least I've given it a go. I want to see Elizabeth, Graham and James and Elizabeth's husband and kids. But that trip feels very much like a "lottery trip" where only some unexpected windfall is going to make it happen because I'm so resistant to using my Disney funds. And then a wave of sadness comes over me and I wonder if I'm being incredibly selfish.

I never count on a windfall. I never counted on getting a tax refund which paid for the basic trip. I don't count on having work trips where I'd get mileage which could be applied somewhere. I count only on what I make every month and that has to work to make what I need a reality. Anything else is unexpected. I just wish life wasn't, sometimes, a need to throw money at things to make it better. It gets down-heartening.

Beverage:  Irish Breakfast tea


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