Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dracula, Chris Isaac, the Devil Machine, and Our First Moment of Fury

Seven years ago my young husband and my even younger self spent all of a lovely Saturday afternoon watching a “Best of” video countdown marathon on VH1. As is wont to occur during TV marathons, the day slipped by us and we soon found ourselves still watching said marathon at 9pm. A nagging feeling came over me as I contemplated the late hour and eventually I turned to my dear husband to wonder aloud, “Hey, are we supposed to be doing something right now?” to which he replied “Yeah, I was thinking that too!”. Tensions mounted as I grabbed my day planner from the corner where I had carelessly tossed it the night before, jerked it open and prepared myself for the worst. As I turned the page to the month of February the reality of our error hit like the proverbial Mack truck. There, pinned to the page with a small yellow paperclip, were ballet tickets. Two, front-row 1st balcony ballet tickets to the local big-deal dance company’s presentation of Dracula. They had cost a small fortune for a young secretary and warehouse dock worker such as ourselves, and the show ended at 9:30. I looked up right as the clock struck 9:08. We had missed it. Two hundred dollars and a Saturday night in a little black dress downtown wasted, just to find which video the top-brass at VH1 believed to be the sexiest (it was Chris Isaac’s “Wicked Game). I almost threw up. Big Daddy turned whiter than normal when I showed him the tickets.

We sat quietly for a minute, and then the fury set it. Not at ourselves, but at the TV. How dare that stupid machine steal our evening! It was theft, plain and simple. We had been robbed of our evening out, two-hundred dollars, and our dignity if the chip dust on our shirts and the black circles under our eyes from sitting in front of a flickering light for nine hours was any indication, by a machine. We went to bed shame-faced and disappointed with TV headaches and heavy hearts.

The next morning I ran some numbers. That devil-machine (as it was now known) had cable, for which we were paying a “special” rate of $50 a month, but the reality was $75 a month with fees and taxes, something the cable companies like to hide. The extra hidden charges made up 33% of the total bill, it equated to a 50% increase that we were just supposed to take! I was furious. Not only did the devil machine rob us, it charged us its daily fee of $2.67 to do it! ($75 divided by 28 days). I called right then and there and cancelled the cable, and we haven’t looked back. Seven years and three kids later, we are still rocking the rabbit ears, with no regrets. The savings paid for our trip to Disney World last November. For reals. Do the math, $75 a month for 7 years = $4500.

The very moment in which we decided to go against convention was the moment we became Furiously Frugal. No more throwing our money away on crap just because it’s what everyone else does. No more wasting money on things we don’t need, won’t use, or are not good for us. Most importantly, no more missing out on things we really do want because we wasted our money on something we don’t. It’s been a long road with a lot of lessons and a LOT of people calling us crazy, literally, but it’s been worth it. We are healthy, we are well-provided for, and we are tremendously happy, all because we were strong enough to become Furiously Frugal.

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