Dentally unstable

Dec. 12, 2001
Joanne Sheehan ponders a few ways to evade buyer's remorse in the name of marital bliss. Virtual spending might even work for complex restorative dental treatment.

A few weeks ago while feeling bored, I thought I'd go to the bookstore and see what gems I could find in the writer's section. My husband frowned on the idea, remembering the damage to the checkbook last time I went. With keys in hand, I kissed him goodbye just as a movie was beginning on TV -- "You�ve Got Mail." I had seen it before, but it was cute and it beat going out in the cold wind and rain.

I put down the keys and joined hubby on the couch. My decision not to go made him doubly happy when he figured out how much money he had just saved.

So I thought ... if a mere canceled trip to the bookstore saves enough money to promote marital bliss, why not do it up big? Why not plan a really expensive excursion, with every intention of going (to the point where guilt has already set in) and then cancel it? I'm talking about virtual spending. The real money never quite leaves your hand.

Christmas is the time of year, sadly, when we see a lot of spender's frenzy and buyer's remorse. In the days that follow, many of us suffer from endocreditcarditis. We don�t know why we do it every year, we're sorry we do it every year, but we do it again the next year. It's a chronic ailment.

Some people can picture a cheeseburger and feel full. It is also possible to be so close to spending thousands of dollars and while never actually doing it, feeling that "big expenditure rush" and also the relief of knowing the transaction never actually took place. That's the best of both worlds, virtual and real.

If you�re into this type of mind game, here�s a few ideas you might try. Why not plan a weekend shopping spree in New York City? You could stay at the Waldorf Astoria, have breakfast at Tiffany's, shop at Saks Fifth Ave. and maybe take in a play. Of course, you�ll need a new wardrobe and plane tickets, cab fare, etc. Run that idea past hubby and watch him go as limp as the Christmas goose. You're into the thousands already. And that's exactly how much you'll save if you don�t go! Makes clipping coupons seem a little silly, doesn't it?

If you're more the outdoorsy type, why not a ski week in Switzerland? Again, you�ll need plane tickets, ski apparel, money for renting equipment there, lodging, meals, ski-lift bucks, oh, and skiing lessons. They help. Skiing accidents can still happen, putting you out of work for a while, if you�re fortunate enough to live through them. (And this advice is from one who connected with a telephone pole while downhill skiing. Straight downhill. Hey, it kept me from hitting that car!) But whether you wipe out or not, there's major damage to what's in your wallet, unless you....

So far, you�ve managed to save the equivalent of at least a semester in an overpriced college. Aren't you the smart one! And it's REAL money you would have spent! So it's real money you saved! Follow?

OK, here�s one last idea. You have a few stress fractures in your 30-year-old teeth, a few unsightly amalgams, and discoloration. The idea of implants seems so enticing. Finally, the perfect smile! Why not go for it? Let's see, you�ll need full mouth extractions, MRIs, possible sinus augmentations and then the implants themselves, not to mention the doctor's fees, etc. There�s nothing really wrong with your natural teeth right now, but that won't last forever. Hubby will LOVE them! And you saved SO MUCH MONEY by canceling all your other plans, they're practically paid for!

If hubby doesn�t want to play this game, there is one other way to save money. When you�re not looking, subtract about $200 every two weeks from your checkbook. Do it at a time when you're preoccupied and you won't notice. Don't make out a check, just subtract that amount. The money will still be in your checkbook, but YOU won�t acknowledge that fact. If you don�t see it, you won�t spend it. And voila! At the end of the year, you can surprise yourself with $5,200! But in spending it, you�ll have a big decision to make. Will it be virtual... or real?

Joanne Iannone Sheehan, RDH