Saturday, 27 June 2009


I’ve already mentioned my erstwhile friend Diana, who sublet her Notting Hill Gate flat to me when I moved to London in 1979 (Small pleasures from small favours). For the first six months, the flat was still in her name and so were all the utility bills: I gave her the money and she paid them – or so I thought until, one day, I found I couldn’t use the phone because the line had been cut off. Art-loving Diana had bought some pieces in a Stratford gallery. I was livid: that money didn’t belong to her; it didn’t even belong to me; it belonged to British Telecom.

I was reminded of her behaviour earlier today when I read a comment on a blog in which the commenter boasted she was thousands of dollars in debt, but still managed to save for luxuries – to make herself feel better, she said. You cannot save money that doesn’t belong to you. You have no business buying luxuries when you owe money to others. You’re not ‘worth it’! You don’t ‘deserve it’! You are being irresponsible and it’s partly because of people like you that people like me, who always strive to live within their means, are in trouble. I am losing money daily because interest rates are now practically nil in this country, lower than inflation anyway. Forget luxuries, I need that money to live on. For the sake of my health, I’m trying not to get het up about things I can’t do anything about, but that made my blood boil.

Slapping selfish, irresponsible people! There are so many of them.


  1. YES! Slap slap slap!

    I admit that my husband and I are in debt. And I admit that we spend a small portion of our monthly income on small things that make life worth living (mostly books). But ALL our bills are paid, and we are *aggressively* paying down our mortgage/school loans/etc.

    And honestly, putting a nice-sized dollar amount into the online billpay field for a particular debt is FAR more satisfying than any purchase. Same goes for a nice deposit into savings. Maybe it comes from "growing up" a bit and appreciating security more, but doing either of these things just *feels* better than buying something. I become gleeful and positively giddy when I can do something big in either department. No purchase - not even LE perfume! - ever felt so good.

    My grandparents have been this way for ages, as have my parents. I can only hope that others follow suit - the global economy needs it!

  2. People are strange with money and I always say you can tell a lot about their character on how they manage their money: Are they responsible, generous, stingy, possesive,self-conscious, full of inferiority complexes, whatever...
    Personally I lose sleep if I owe anything so I never owe anything in my life (at least money-wise, because I guess we all owe something morally to someone else and that's a good debt to owe).

    It's most vexing I find when people boast about other things they do to try to "have their cake and eat it" in regards to luxury items; like returning cosmetics to the store when they simply don't like the colour (nothing wrong with the item), or they buy something for the GWP, then return the item but keep the GWP, or get something at a discount, then return it when it's on full price again...that sort of thing. I mean, geez, it's so petty and ultimately not worth the hassle you know? Not to mention it accounts for stores raising their prices! (they're not fools)
    But many people do it all the same, if what I read is anything to go by (caveat emptor that they might be testing the waters when posting those things online, who knows?)

  3. It's funny that there are very few replies to this timely topic!

    I work for a small company that sells home heating oil, and it is disguting when people steal from us. That's all it is: theft by another name. When you order products and don't pay it's theft, and it makes life very difficult. The company gave its goods and services in good faith and has every right to be paid. I wish, Bela, that you had a bigger forum because if others thought the way you do life could be better for them. It's important to be honest and to pay bills on time. I don't think there is any shame in calling a company like ours to say that due to an unforseen circumstance a bill cannot be paid, and to offer suggestions to pay over time. Any supplier would welcome such an effort. I have had people tell me that they had to pay for the Easter Bunny (no kidding), every excuse you can think of, including huge vet bills for multiple diabetic dogs.

    Slap! to the people who choose to not pay their bills and affect the rest of humanity.




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