Promise and Wisdom

I called The Woman late yesterday afternoon — my boss, if you prefer.

“Listen,” I said to her, “I’m finding myself booking appointments very close and possibly beyond March 15th. Should I be doing that given that’s my last official end date?”

“Go right ahead,” she replied. “I can’t give you any details on what or how long because I’m swamped right now since I may be on jury duty starting Wednesday, but there are things in the works and we’ll be getting a new contract out to you soon.”

So, that’s good. Of course, I have no idea whether we’re talking three, six, twelve months or anything, but I don’t have to think about turning in my stuff in just over two weeks. And likely, “never really knowing” is going to be the hallmark of my career at the day job since that’s how employers in financial services operate these days. But I can stop worrying about the immediate future.

Meanwhile, lately I’ve been meaning to call my mom as I regularly do, but I’ve been holding off until I knew more about the job and would have something new to report either way. My good news brought her to ask me what I’ve been thinking about my car — whether I’m going to replace or keep Junior.

Setting aside the fact that I’m an avowed momma’s boy, you have to understand that my mother is incredibly wise when it comes to money matters. That I managed to clear as much debt as I have in only one year is testimony to how much I’m a chip off the old block. That said, when she asked me about what I wanted to do with the car, I knew even before we started talking that her thoughts would be vastly different than my own.

She made some very good points which I’m now seriously pondering. First, there’s the fact that Junior has been a fantastic little car. Provided I get him independently checked over from top to bottom and he turns out to be in as good a shape as I think he is, why not just buy him out. Given my ability to clear debt, I could have him paid off by the end of this year or early next year and the most. And second, I have never been in a position to set money aside for a registered retirement plan or just ordinary savings. Therefore, although it’s too late for the 2006 income tax declaration, why not start as soon as possible to set aside some dough in an RRSP as well as open short-term investments that I could dip into when I need to. Where there’s no long-term certainty with the day job, it could become a cash cushion should the job end or a substantial cash down payment on my next car in three or four years.

Of course, if I were to follow my heart, I would go for that 2007 Malibu in May. However, I have to admit that her advice, though not nearly as much fun, resonates as good common sense. A part of me is tempted to argue that I’m already fucked — that I’m starting way too late to make a significant difference. But Mom was able to matter-of-factly counter that argument by pointing out how my parents were only able to start contributing in my father’s last seven productive years, and yet that, in combination with the usual modest government old-age pension, is how they — and now only her — have been able to live quite comfortably in retirement.

In other words, I have tangible proof very close to me that it’s never too late. And while my mom is not exactly “rolling in it,” as a family we needn’t worry a single minute about the state of her finances. So, although I can so picture myself in that new car, it’s starting to look more and more like I’ll be opting for the sensible option which, when you think about it, is a profoundly optimistic outlook: it assumes that I plan to stick around on this planet for a good while longer.