Saving You Money So You Can Buy More Toys

There’s a commercial airing for Progressive Insurance which is extremely irritating to me, so of course I’m blogging about it.

Progressive’s current campaign involves people shopping for insurance in a store setting, while the cashier exclaims about the great deals and free services that come with each policy as the customer pays.

This particular commercial shows begins with a woman walking over to her husband at the checkout lane. She sees a cartful of insurance in the cart and says, “What’s this?” as she’s reaching in. Looking at each one in turn she says, puczzled, “We don’t have a motorcycle. We don’t have a boat. We don’t have an RV.”

The husband sheepishly admits, “Yes, we do.” The announcer then says, “Saving you money so you can buy more toys. Now that’s Progressive.”

This ad bothers me on so many levels. First, there’s the obvious dishonesty in this pretend relationship. What kind of man keeps the purchase of a motorcycle, a boat and an RV from his wife? This isn’t funny, and it’s not even all that unusual. It happens. This type of thing is why financial differences are the number one reason for divorce. If Husband ever did anything like this he’s have to sell the boat and the RV to pay the medical bills.

The other thing that bothers me is Progressive’s laissez faire attitude about money management. The propagation of the idea that “He who dies with the most toys wins.” If we can save you $20 on your insurance you’ll be able to buy that $20,000 boat. Why save? Spend! So what if you can’t afford it? So what if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, or just barely, or almost? You need more toys!

Is it any wonder that our country is in the financial and economic mess we are in? That credit card debit is at an all-time high? That the sub-prime mortgage fiasco and uncontrolled spending is responsible for 1 in 11 homes in our country being in foreclosure? One in eleven!!!

I don’t expect mega corporations to discourage people from spending money. Their job is to make money, and I understand that. But can’t they do it a bit more responsibly?

In my opinion this ad is a disservice. Progressive is using these ads to get people like you and me to call them for quotes and buy their policies. Irresponsible advertising like this will always have the opposite affect on me. I can tell you, Progressive, that even if you did save me money I wouldn’t come near one of your policies with a ten foot pole. Not even on a motorcycle. Or in a boat. Or an RV.

Love Uncluttered

I spent the past two weeks pretty entrenched in family stuff. My Dad is selling his house and buying a condo on the beach. My sisters were in town, so we’ve been furniture shopping and started to sort through some of the stuff in the house, figuring out what he’ll take with him (15%), what my brothers and sisters and I will take (15%) and what will be sold at the massive garage sale we’ll have (we can all figure out this percentage, I hope).

I’ve talked in the past about the mounds and mounds of clutter and crap my stepmother amassed. My Dad lived in a house full of clutter with her for thirty-five years and never complained. The house was always relatively clean, but there was nary a surface unoccupied. And as each of us moved out of the house she took over our rooms and filled the closets and drawers with little gifts she thought the kids would like, or napkins for a future dinner party, or address books (we’ve found at least twenty, filled with the same addresses over and over and over again). There are hundreds of glasses, every kitchen gizmo and gadget you can think of (and some we still have no clue about), family heirlooms and enough serving dishes to give one to every soldier in Iraq. Well, not really. But a LOT.

Now that she’s not there my Dad’s innate need for order (I am an accountant’s daughter) has resurfaced, and with a vengeance. He cannot tolerate any new mess, any new clutter. Extra food brought into the house for the duration of my sisters’ stay is already out of the house, and my sister doesn’t leave until tomorrow. This after noon he asked us to clean up the kids’ toys, about 1/2 hour before more grandkids were showing up. We explained and he relented, but the mess really bothers him.

His new home will be very different from the one he lives in today. The furniture will be less ornate (his new bedroom and dining room sets are lovely and elegant with very clean lines), there will be surfaces uncluttered, and likely there will be empty drawers. To me a much more relaxing place to be.

But that’s not the point.

What’s so fascinating, so wonderful, so cool, is how he adapted for the woman he loved. She brought him so much joy that he learned to live with the clutter, the shopping bags, and the bills. He didn’t try to control the house or her love of stuff. I don’t think he even noticed that much; not until she was gone.

We all deserve to be loved like that, don’t we?

Husband Had a Date With Another Woman, And I’m Worried

But not about the date.

Tonight Husband had a date. Her name is J, and she was just laid off from the company where Husband works. She’s a nice girl, and Husband is very concerned about her (going through a divorce with two young kids) and the company he works for.

Husband’s company has laid off about a third of its workforce in the past eight months. That would be surprising, but not when we’re in the middle of a real estate slowdown of epic proportions and you happen to be an advertising agency whose specialty is real estate. Management is swimming upstream in floaties trying to secure new, more diverse accounts, and throwing off baggage left and right, including baggage they need to keep afloat.

So, I’m worried about the viability of this company.

I’m worried because Husband makes 25% more working for this agency, who is well aware of his special qualifications, than he would be for a new company not used to paying his current salary to someone in his position.

I’m worried because Husband has Diabetes and Son has asthma and we’ll be paying thousands a month in COBRA until he gets past his probation period with any new company.

I’m worried because we want to move but can’t sell our house.

I’m worried that he’ll get a job in another state and we’ll be separated until the house sells.

I’m worried that he’ll have to take a job at too-low pay doing something that will leave him unfulfilled and frustrated.

I’m worried he won’t find a job at all.

I’m worried that I’ll have to go back to work.

I’m worried about depleting our very comforting and healthy savings balance.

What I’m not worried about is Husband spending time with another woman.

What I know is that we’ll make the best of whatever comes our way, even as I’m worrying.

Using My Frugality Against Me

It just isn’t fair.

Husband dislikes shaving. That’s fine, except I dislike sandpaper kisses.

When I mentioned to him today that a shave would be nice he said, “Well, I don’t want to shave too often. Those razor cartridges are expensive, you know…”

Yes. I know.

That was a low blow, dude.

Tonight I Ran Away From Home

I got really angry earlier this evening. Disproportionately angry. Could-feel-the-blood-coursing-through-my-veins angry.

My husband and I had a small spat. As I was expressing my displeasure (not nearly as civilly as that phrase suggests) I could feel my anger build – and even as it was happening I knew the anger was disproportionate to his (as I perceived it) transgression.

I walked into the other room, and my three-year-old started whining. And whining. And then he wasn’t listening. The very last thing that I needed to be dealing with, angry as I was. I sent him up to his father, and I sat here. And I seethed. For a long time. Very unusual for me – my anger usually abates very quickly.

A friend suggested that I get out of the house. That friend lives a thousand miles away, so I called up a local friend that I hadn’t talked to in about 8 months and made plans to get together with her. I spoke to my husband and he was pretty supportive (he knows how rare it is that I react as I did), though he did request I be home by ten. I was noncommittal.

So my friend and I went and played Bingo, and then went out for a drink. It was good to get out, and Bingo is always fun (though I always think I should do my hair in a beehive and bring kewpie dolls as good luck charms).

So, now I’m home, mellowed a bit on my 1/2 glass of wine (it really doesn’t take much alcohol to get me buzzed), and am not wanting to poke my husband in the eye any more. Good thing he had no comment about my 11:45 arrival…

And another thing – I am soooooooo glad I’m not single anymore. Listening to my friend talk about her dating stuff, looking around at the obviously single people in that bar…ugh. I enjoyed being single, but the dating scene was always very stressful for me. It’s good to know I’m home. In more ways than one.

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