Money For Nothing- Just the Mortgage, School and More

I spent the Summer of 1985 feeling like a rich kid. For the first ten weeks I lived in Israel and had a ball. I wasn’t home for more than a week when the family left for Hawaii. My grandparents took us all there to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. They actually have two anniversaries. I wrote about them in an earlier post in which I alluded to their 71st anniversary which will hit this July. In June they will celebrate 70 years which means that it is going to be 20 years since I took that trip to Israel and to Hawaii.

I left Hawaii a couple of days earlier than the rest of my family because school was starting for me. It was pretty cool because I knew that I was going to have the house to myself, of course the fact that I didn’t have a driver’s license was inconvenient, but since I had been gone all Summer it hadn’t occurred to me that it would be a problem. Or maybe it did, who can remember.

A friend picked me up from the airport. I had taken a redeye so it was around 1:30 am or so. I got into his car and I heard Sting singing:

“I want my MTV” and then the rest of Money For Nothing followed. I can still hear Mark Knopfler singing:

“Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free
Money for nothin’ and chicks for free”

And to a certain extent it rang true to me. Most of the money for my trip to Israel came from my Bar Mitzvah and the small savings I had accumulated, but to a 16 year-old boy it felt true. I had been on my own in a foreign country, had some brief flings and just loved life.

But all good things come to an end and my return to reality reminded me that I really didn’t have endless amounts of cash. Although the truth was even in Israel it was very apparent to me that some of the other kids on the trip belonged to a different economic class than I did. It didn’t bother me all that much then and it still doesn’t bother me now, but I have to admit that every now and then I find it a little irksome.

I am still friendly with many of the people from that summer and travel in the same circle as many of the others. Some of them belong to the same shul as my family so I have the pleasure of dealing with them as parents. And in some cases it is quite alright, but in others I can see that even though they come from old money they never learned to appreciate it and are raising children who have the same lack of appreciation and understanding that they do.

The big difference between then and now is that now it is not unusual for me to confront them about the financial issue. There are many different programs and fundraisers at the preschool and some of them have trouble understanding that not every one is in the same financial situation and that they need to make allowances for that.

I got laid off two years ago and was unemployed for almost two months. We managed to make do because I had saved for a rainy day, but since I have the only income in the house it has been tough. The savings is almost gone and if there was a real problem life could get interesting, but I am a bit of a gambler and willing to live on the edge. The benefit of sales is that my income is flexible. Last year wasn’t great, but it takes time to build a base and to make it work for you. If things continue the way that they are going we’ll recover and life will get easier.

Those kids I mentioned earlier don’t have the same struggles because they have been taken care of financially but I have to believe that they don’t have the same satisfaction I do in what we have. We bought our home without any assistance and for more than four years I have been the sole source of income in Los Angeles. It may not be as expensive as SF or Manhattan, but it is not cheap.

But I would be lying if I said that I wouldn’t mind being in the same position as the aforementioned folks. It might be nice to have to struggle to find something to spend money on. And just in case you are wondering, it wouldn’t be half bad to live out the lyrics again.

“Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free
Money for nothin’ and chicks for free”

Not sure how I would explain it, am I old enough to blame it on a midlife crisis. 😉

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