When money comes to one unexpectedly, the best thing to do is squander it. 30 years from now you won’t remember or care if you spent your money on practical things like bandaids or cupcake liners, but you WILL remember the wonderful day you carelessly squandered.
(I realize that this sounds like bad advice. But I have to occasionally give myself bad money advice or else I’ll never have any fun.)
This time of year people are squandering their tax refunds, and I wanted in on the fun. So imagine my delight when I opened the mailbox the other day and found my Virginia tax refund.
Five entire dollars!
Unfortunately, due to inflation and such, there’s not a lot one can buy with five dollars. I decided to use an Instagram poll to narrow down my choices.
“What shall I splurge on?” I asked my Instagram followers, presenting the following three options:
- Gas for a vacation to the other end of town
- A slightly fancier than usual toothbrush
- Mystery beverage from the Asian food store
Initially, people voted for “gas for a vacation to the other side of town,” but after a bit “mystery drink from the Asian food store” began to catch up. Which was fine with me. Every time I go to the Asian food store I look longingly at the rows of unique and delicious-looking beverages.
But I never try them because I rarely let myself squander money.
When Jenny came home from school she was laughing. “Your Instagram story was so funny!”
“I’m glad you found it funny,” I said. “I was trying to be funny, but no one laugh reacted. I guess they were too busy voting in the poll. What did you vote for?”
“I voted for ‘slightly fancier than usual toothbrush,’” said Jenny. “That was by far the funniest option.”
“A lot of people are voting ‘vacation to the other side of town,’” I said. “Which I don’t really understand. The toothbrush is the funniest option and the Asian food store drink is the best option.”
“Yeah, but everyone understands the gas prices joke,” said Jenny. “Not everyone understands the toothbrush joke because they don’t understand how we live.”
However, by the end of the day the toothbrush had overtaken the gas, and the Asian drink was by far winning overall.
Today I went to the Asian food store to buy my drink.
So many options!
I wanted something mysterious…something where I wouldn’t know what to expect. So instead of purchasing some delicious-looking green tea or sparkling grapefruit juice, I grabbed an odd-looking bottle of some sort of plum drink.
This drink only cost three dollars, so I went next door to Dollar Tree (which Jenny and I colloquially call “dollar twenty-five tree” due to its hike in prices) to look for something fancy that I could glue to a toothbrush.
That way I could have both a slightly fancier than usual toothbrush AND a mystery drink from the Asian food store! What a life!
I considered all kinds of stickers, bows, nail polishes, glitter glues, and even googly eyes, but settled on butterfly-shaped fake jewels.
When I got back out to the car I looked at my gas gauge. Could I afford to take a vacation to the other end of town too?
I decided that I could.
On the northwest side of town, farther than I’ve ever been before, was a “park and natural area” so I decided to go take a relaxing vacation there.
Wander the paths. Eat a picnic. (And by picnic I mean some snacks and my mystery drink from the Asian food store.)
The wandering was nice and so were the snacks, but I sampled my drink and wasn’t impressed. At first it tasted very sweet, like kool-aid, but then it had a strange, almost medicinal aftertaste.
And that’s when it struck me.
Plum drink. Dried plums make prunes. Which means prune juice is probably just plum juice, right?
Did I just squander my tax refund on prune juice?!?
I forced myself to finish it, hating it more the more I drank.
My stomach burbled ominously.
I continued wandering around the “park and natural area” and fairly quickly came upon some abandoned farm buildings to explore.
And into this tower/silo thing. It reminded me of Belmotte tower from I Capture the Castle.
Finally, when I was finished exploring I settled by a pond to write some of this blog post.
This was the first time I’d used my AlphaSmart in months. It was so cold outside all winter, and I was doing so much work that required an Internet connection, that it wasn’t practical. But it felt so nice to write in nature again like I used to last summer.
That was the extent of my vacation. Although there were numerous restaurants and stores on the northwest side of town that I’d never been to, I only had 63 cents left.
So instead I went home and tried to make my toothbrush fancier than usual.
The truth is, this toothbrush was already fancier than usual because I didn’t buy it myself—rather, I got it for free when I went to the dentist. And making it fancier was quite a challenge because it had to be waterproof and it couldn’t interfere with the tooth-cleaning process. One little butterfly jewel was all I could manage.
But then I had all these leftover jeweled butterflies. Not one to be wasteful (despite my attempts to squander money), I proceeded to add a little razzle-dazzle to some other things about the house.
Slightly-fancier-than-usual alarm clock
Slightly-fancier-than-usual toilet brush
So as you can see, while the mystery drink from the Asian food store was a bit of a letdown, I now have a number of fancier-than-usual objects to cheer me up.
What are you planning to squander your tax refund on?
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