Times are hard, and I wasn’t wearing the recession well. Retirement is fun, but my nest eggs were being cracked one by one by the deteriorating economy, and the middles were oozing out like mercury from a broken thermometer.
The phone continued to ring. Maybe Ed McMahon was calling to tell me I had won the lottery. Hope floats. “Hullo,” I answered without enthusiasm.
It was my CPA calling to deliver the dreaded news about my taxes. I always owe money. But wait, what was this? She tells me I’m getting money back! She didn’t know I was planning to retire, and I have overpaid Uncle Sam by a significant amount. She asked if I wanted to leave it in – to pay for next year’s taxes.
Are you kidding me? “Heck no!” I shouted. “I may not live that long, and the “govment” has been using my money for free. I want it all and I want it now!” We signed up for direct deposit and I floated into the kitchen where Rebel and Lucky Dawg were surveying their bowls of discount puppy food with disdain. They hate it, and I don’t blame them. It looks like something that had been regurgitated by a previous animal.
I was ecstatic and feeling so generous I opened a can of tuna for the pregnant stray cat that roams our neighborhood looking for handouts. I turned on all the lights and reveled in the brightness that once again bathed the corners of my home. I pulled out the Easter ham bone I was saving for soup and tossed it into the yard for my neighborhood canine friends to share. In my mind, I spent that windfall a thousand ways.
I could turn on the heat and stop sleeping in my warm-ups. I could call the plumber and get my garbage disposal fixed. I could buy a whole tank of gas and see that dial on full again. I could donate my clothes to charity and buy a new wardrobe. I could buy a new tube of toothpaste for sure. Just as I was working myself into a frenzy, the sobering voice of Dave Ramsey spoke to me. “You better put that refund into an emergency fund,” it warned. “Peace of mind is infinitely better than having more “things.”
Party pooper. But I knew that voice spoke the truth. But hey, I’m going to take a little bit and have a mini spending spree before resuming my austerity program.
(Editor’s note: This column was published in several newspapers and Dave Ramsey picked up on it. His director of public relations wrote to say they got a kick out of it. I got a kick out of HIS getting a kick out of it since I’m one of his most devoted pupils.)