the iTunes billing account and commitment issues

Posted on 14.07.2011

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A while ago, René and I were talking. I was telling him about how I’d tried recently to switch my iTunes account from America (which I have currently) to Germany, because I was convinced that the Europe site had more and/or better music. I’m still not sure if that’s true or not, but I know that a lot of songs I hear on the radio can’t be found in the American iTunes store. Whether that’s because they are too new to even be in iTunes, or currently unreleased in the US is totally lost on me.

I wasn’t able to do that because my billing address for my BOA check/visa card is a US address. In order to use German iTunes, you need to have a German billing address.

René had a simple solution. His idea was completely logical. He said, ‘Why don’t you just switch your billing account to our shared account?’ (yes, we share a bank account over here, far easier than me getting my own and just one step closer to BONDED FOR EVAR). My answer? ‘Because I don’t want to buy music from our shared account!’

At first, in hindsight, I felt like that was an excuse, like maybe I was ‘afraid to commit’ or something silly like that. Anyone that knows me, and knows where I live now, will disagree with me, and I disagreed with myself almost immediately. If there is one guy on the planet that I CAN, PLAN TO and DO commit to, it’s René. He’s the effing bee’s knees. I’m bonded for life already. So, it was odd to me that this idea of the shared bank account being the billing address seemed to scare me so.

I didn’t realize what my real reason was at the time, but I realized it today. It’s a problem that goes back all the way to my father’s first layoff, after we moved to MD when I was probably about 10 years old. I didn’t really understand what it meant the day that dad brought his whole tool box home, but I grew to realize that that event, and my father’s following search for work, meant that we didn’t have a lot of money, and that a lot of arguments happened, and I didn’t get to go to summer camp that year (which was fine, since they were totally sending us to some Christian camp and I was NOT down with that, although archery had been fun).

That problem is that I have PERMANENT buyer’s remorse. I’m not a cheapskate, I just really dislike spending money. I have never enjoyed spending money, even though I have it to spend these days.

My money issues go back to that day and everything that followed, and have followed me since. I started working at age 14 in order to be able to buy new clothes for school, because my parents couldn’t afford the things I wanted and kids are mean at that age. Stuff like JNCO and Bongo jeans was just too expensive for the income of a manicurist, which was my mother’s job by then. So I started babysitting. Then, when I was old enough (about 13), I started to umpire at the rec center I belonged to, and that helped. I got hired to my first ‘real’ job a few weeks before I turned 16, and I started working on my birthday. I did all of it to be able to help my parents and survive school, which was rough when you weren’t dressed properly.

My friends in high school didn’t notice it, but my family was THANKFUL when my father got a job managing a Cinnabon, because it meant we had a permanent supply of food, albeit food that was bad for us, for breakfast and desserts. It was less money we had to spend when grocery shopping. It was the same when I got my job at the sub shop: my parents were thrilled that I could bring home a huge bag of bread at the end of each night, because otherwise it would be thrown away. It wasn’t upsetting, it was survival. My sister and I learned to treat our sports gear like gold, because we couldn’t afford to replace it as often as we should. Second hand shops were often our only back-to-school clothing stores, out of necessity. I learned how to alter my clothing at a very young age.

When I got to college, I got my first solo bank account, got a work-study job and an outside hostessing job and started making a decent amount of money. I also got my first credit card, which I wanted to use only for emergencies. That lasted about 2 weeks. Emergencies turned into just about all of my school supplies and little gifts to myself… Before I knew it, I was calling Miss Cleo looking for my house keys (yes, that really happened) and having late night shopping sprees on the Victoria’s Secret website. There was at least one semester, if not a whole year after I’d gone independent from my parents, where I was at the mercy of my friends because I couldn’t afford food. I was literally living off of my friends’ meal plans and some bags of ramen. I was majorly in debt by the time I was 20. And that was effing scary.

The credit card and the store cards that followed were temporary relief that only lasted until the next billing cycle. I had learned from my parents that when I couldn’t pay a bill, I should use my credit card. This was terrible banking on their part and I learned it without them ever telling me. I’d just paid attention to what they were doing.

It was a long, hard crawl out of that. Years later, Jeanan taught me how to budget, I got out of debt, accrued small amounts here and there, but learned how to control myself. I’ll admit that I think that money earned deserves to be enjoyed, but I do my best not to waste it anymore.

But sometimes, when I’ve got a decent amount sitting around, I like to buy some music. Or used books. Not a lot, I’ve got rules in place to keep myself in check, but enough. Enough that I sometimes still feel bad about it, even if I do love the album or the book enough to read repeatedly.

I buy my books used on Amazon. I don’t care if they’ve been read, I’m down with saving the trees and not wasting books. I STILL only buy clothing that is on sale (this is because I know how retail works and know that eventually ALL things go on sale, and I’m ok with waiting). I get excited when an album costs less than $9.99.

I know I’m better with money. I know that I have been for a long time. But even so, there’s a part of me that was afraid to share my online spending habits with René. This, to me, was somehow a scarier thought than leaving my cats back in the US was. I don’t know why. I think I have permanent guilt about spending money. I know it comes from not having enough when I was growing up, from learning that every dollar needs to last as long as possible.

So I’m going to work on that, and I’m going to seriously consider switching my American iTunes account to the German one, and use our shared account as my billing account.

I need to actively work on this feeling of always being ‘bad’ when I shop. I’m not being bad. Buying awesome clothing for 5- or 10- Euros because I know when and where to find the sales is NOT bad. I (we) can afford that. We can afford new music once in a while. I need to stop feeling like everything is a rationalization and give myself some credit more often.

We’re all our own worst critics, and I’ve always been especially hard on myself. I’m making a conscious effort, starting today, to stop feeling bad for spending the money I’ve earned on things that I need or enjoy. I have the luxury to do that now, and I’m going to work on being ok with that.

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Posted in: life, money, shopping