Monday, August 24, 2009

Mid-Year Resolutions

So I made some mid-year resolutions a while ago and I sort of kept them. The results are in and there are a few surprises.

1. Resolved: not to look at the internet before noon.

Status: Successful.

OK, let me qualify that. I don't meant I don't check my email in the morning. I do. I also allow myself to download the Times Reader and look at that. Since that is just an electronic version of the Times downloaded onto the computer, in my view it doesn't count.

What I mean is: I'm not allowed to look at fun or newsy websites. No boingboing.net; no cuteoverload.com. No browsing around. Zero, nada, zip. Not 'til noon, anyway. This way at least the morning is productive and isn't eaten up on things I would enjoy just as much at 6pm or 9pm if I just had the goddamn patience to wait.

Results: Excellent and surprising. Less fussing over the state of the world; less moping over the comparisons between my life and other people's lives; less moaning over consumer goods I can't afford. More accomplishments. I get five stars.

2. Resolved: no more using the credit cards.

Status: Successful.

You always read how anyone who has a problem with overusing their credit cards should use a debit card instead. It's a fine idea, but it has some drawbacks. One of the main reasons to use a credit card is that you're shopping on the internet. Do you really want to put the number of your bank card into a website form? I mean, I understand that those cards have legal protections, but that's going to be cold comfort during the first few weeks after someone empties your checking account.

What I got instead was a prepaid card - it's like a credit card, only you prepay. Now, you'd think banks would be falling all over themselves to market these cards to consumers -- after all, they get the money sitting in the account before you spend it, and they get the fees, and it's a pretty good deal for them. Strangely, I found the prepaid cards were marketed in peculiar "can't get credit yourself?" kind of way -- with pictures of families wearing "we're in debt, boo hoo" expressions. Why not market these cards to people like me, who just want a convenient way to budget their discretionary spending?

Results: Astonishing. I'm amazed at how differently I use my prepaid card from how I used my credit card. It sounds ridiculous, but I actually treat it as money instead of some kind of possible fantasy thing I might possibly pay of in some imaginary future time. I'm a little weirded out by this failure to understand the abstract concept of money in such a way that credit card debt is real money, but who knows? there it is.

Resolved: to exercise more.

Status: Failed.

Results: One thing that always really annoys me is when people act like working out is a matter of rational choice. "Why need a personal trainer? How silly! If I know what to do at the gym I can just go do it myself."

Sounds good in theory, but obviously this is just false for most people.

Anyway two out of three ain't bad.

3 comments:

Daniel said...

Two out of three is EXCELLENT! I simply could not agree more about the exercise issue. I need a class, with someone up front telling me exactly what to do - no decisions, no thought - and then it's over. And then you do it again, one more time, before the week is over. And sometimes the person in front of the room looks really good and thus motivates me.

Patricia said...

Ahh, the class. I used to do step classes - but they got so f@#*&ing complicated, they drove me nuts. I've pondered the whole spinning thing, but I kinda want to move around more than just sitting and cycling. You got classes you go to that you like?

Daniel said...

A super late response to your comment, but I find that body sculpting classes are fun! Not too complicated but lots of variety.