Sunday, June 18, 2006

WILL THAT BE CASH OR CREDIT CARD?

Without my laptop again for almost two weeks—this time, HP main office had to borrow it to verify my complaints—I was back to resorting to the newspapers when keeping abreast with some current events.

What got me excited one day last week was coming across a print ad in the Philippine Inquirer featuring Canon’s EOS digital camera

There’s a project I’ve relegated to the backburner due to my lack of a better camera to work with. The Canon SLR film camera I've been using no longer seems to cut the grade. It's cumbersome, too. The film has to be developed and the prints scanned; whereas with a digital camera, all I have to do is hook it up to my laptop and the pictures are ready to be tweaked and published. And now that this Canon EOS 5D is available locally for purchase, acquiring one may finally breathe life into this project.

Adhering to a personal rule of thumb, especially with high-priced acquisitions, I started looking around for an Item I own with similar value as this Canon digital camera. Also, it has to be something I haven’t used in at least a year. The intention is to liquidate it in order to raise the cash for this new camera.

Surely, I could just use my credit card and rush off to a nearest Canon retailer; however, I strictly use the only credit card I have for emergencies, and pay off the entire balance when the bill comes.

You see, I’ve learned the hard way (while living in New York) how a piece of plastic could lead to spontaneous shopping sprees and constant insignificant partying. I was young and frivolous then. And may I add, not expecting to live beyond 30 and therefore, didn’t have to worry about any outstanding debts. Oh my, was I wrong!

But carrying a substantial personal debt has always been deeply entrenched into the American psyche. In a recent New York Times article alone, The American Way of Debt, author Jackson Lears claims “The fattest nation on earth is also the greediest consumer of global resources and now is borrowing more than ever to satisfy its appetites.” He then goes on to illustrate the large core of truth in his indictment.


Actually, to agree with him, I need not go any farther from my own family circle to exemplify his argument.

Just the other day, while speaking to one of my brothers over the phone, I was astonished to hear the dilemma his eldest son had gone through recently. Not satisfied with their beautiful home in a tree-lined street in Teaneck, New Jersey, his son decided to buy a much bigger house with a sprawling lawn. Not only is the new house an extra sixty miles farther away from Manhattan where he commutes to work everyday, he now has to pay an additional $200 a month for someone to clean and maintain his lawn.

Supposedly, the most troubling aspect was his making the purchase for a new house without the current one having been sold beforehand. But then again, how could he sell it without having a new house to move into; a catch-22 scenario, indeed. So, for four months, he was paying off two hefty mortgages and had to borrow money from his parents to pull it through. Thus, my nephew was no longer representing the glamorous ethos of self-gratification, but instead personifying a middle-class American homeowner seriously burdened by both his possessions and obligations.

American Consumer Credit Counseling figures also attest to the country’s alarming trend of consumers owing soaring debts and having no savings to speak of. And that many are filing for bankruptcy at record rates. Unarguably, Americans are indeed bathing in red ink; as consumers their combined credit totals to an astronomical $1.7 trillion.

Personally, it took some years for me to correct the course of my financial affairs. I even sought professional guidance to help me with devising sensible budgeting and saving schemes, as well as making more clarified distinctions between personal desires and needs.


One of the many lessons I’ve learned and have been applying since then is first disposing off an item I already own prior to making a new purchase. For example, before buying a new necktie, I must first eliminate one from my tie rack. As for taming my urge for instant gratification, I would save for those things I want instead of buying them immediately with a credit card.

When I purchased my laptop and upgraded my Nokia 3310 to a 6630, I sold some jewelry beforehand. When the credit card bills arrived, I had the cash to pay off entirely the total amount due. I don’t particularly like wearing or collecting jewelry, but have received some as gifts from my family through the years; which they’d rather give me instead of gift certificates that expire or tend to be forgotten.

By the way, I once won from a drunken bet a vintage watch. I find it ostentatious and therefore, would rarely wear it. I handed it over to my nephew the other day to have it cleaned by a professional. I also asked him to take it to a watch dealer in Glorietta for appraisal. If sold, I might just be able to afford that Canon digital camera and some of its nifty accessories.
Hmm, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.


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posted by Señor Enrique at 10:18 AM


17 Comments:

Blogger penovate said...

nice camera! hehe...

June 18, 2006 12:45 PM  

Blogger vina said...

hmmm, card or cash?

well, for now, it's cash, because is way over the maximum, hehe.

good luck on that canon camera!

June 18, 2006 12:50 PM  

Anonymous jhay said...

So that's explains why there are so many financial and credit management firms in the US. All the spam I get are from them.

Anyways, the camera is great. Had a hands-on experience with it last week at SM Megamall. I just had to try it, I didn't have the money to buy it that day, or in the next two years...

June 18, 2006 5:23 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Yes, indeed, Tet! It's a nice camera. And I will surely come running to both you and Jeff if ever I have trouble fooling around with it, or should I need some tips on photography! :)

June 18, 2006 8:08 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

The shopping trip to Singapore must have maxed it, huh, Vina? Hehehe. But hey, you had a grand time judging from the photos you took of your trip. And that fudge sundae!

June 18, 2006 8:10 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hahaha, Jhay! You're right, there's quite a number of financial counseling services and bad credit repair outfits over there.

I'm resisting the urge to go to a store and handle one because I might just pull out my credit card. Urrgh!

By the way, both Tet Bautista of Penovate and Jeff Vergara of The Dubai Chronicles use this camera and I am simply enchanted by their photographs!

I'm sure once you become a film or theater director, you'll easily afford the finest cameras available out there :)

June 18, 2006 8:17 PM  

Anonymous niceheart said...

You have a good strategy. I've also been had by the credit card business. I'm also trying to avoid using my credit card if I can. But I still have a large amount to pay off.

June 19, 2006 9:40 AM  

Blogger j said...

I got rid of the plastic years ago. It was a good move I guess, because now I'm forced to save for my shopping sprees and I don't have monthly dues to worry about.

June 19, 2006 12:08 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

That's exactly what's it all about, Niceheart -- "being had by these credit card companies," which they are now aggressively doing here in the Philippines also. They're handing out pre-approved cards like crazy.

Over in the States, they're targeting college students. Thing is, they make tons of money from the interest.

June 19, 2006 8:31 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Keeping at least one credit card for convenience and personal safety is still a good idea, Jairam.

Also, there are other benefits of using a credit card which I will blog about next.

June 19, 2006 8:39 PM  

Blogger silentmode_v2 said...

(devil's advocate):
buy it, it's good. you'll get pretty model subjects from this... hehehe.

(me):
buy it, it's good. forget the plastic. indulge yerself :P

June 20, 2006 8:45 PM  

Blogger BW said...

Last Xmas, 5 days before Xmas day I saw Minolta Maxxum HTI 35mm cameras that sold for $90 Canadian at a makeshift stall in the underground shopping area here in Toronto. It was not digital but the camera looked totally slick and selling at 1/5th of its original price. I have a digital camera but I said to myself - heck I must score this item now. I figure I can just drop the films at COSTCO and get a CD of the pics and presto, I can load in my PC. Besides, now I can be more selective of my shots, not like clicking on anything on the digital camera. So I bought it even if I didn't need it. The leather carrying case was $25 - I passed on it. After Xmas day, I happened to pass by the stall and cameras were gone but the cases were selling at 5 bucks! I bought one and congratulated myself for being damn smart. LOL..

But I agree - many of the things we buy with credit - whether through the plastic card or line of credit are things that we don't really need. Impulsive buying is a disease. I always make it a point to sleep on a decision to buy or not because sometimes the compulsion subsides once we spend a day deliberating on the decision. But this camera, well what if I came back next day and they were all scooped up?? LOL..

June 21, 2006 12:47 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I like your witty comments (from a couple voices there), Jeff ... really funny! Pretty models, huh? hehehe.

Everytime I visit your site to enjoy your pictures, I always say to myself, "Someday." Problem is, I may not have the same patience as you do when it comes to tweaking it for a perfect shot.

Nonetheless, once I get one, you'll be the first guy to know, Jeff.

June 21, 2006 7:38 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Congratulations on a great buy! I once had a Maxxum camera and truly enjoyed it; sadly, it was stolen from me :(

I still have my Canon T70 (I know, it's rather archaic), but what I really need is a digital camera that I can hook up directly to my laptop.

Your timing was indeed impeccable and there's nothing more exciting than getting something you need at a remarkably discounted price! Congrats!

June 21, 2006 7:47 AM  

Blogger BW said...

When I passed buy to but the leather case for 5 bucks, I would have bought another camera to send to my brother in RP if there was any left in stock. I was at a photo show at Gloreitta mall in Feb 2005 and saw how expensive cameras are back home. For P4,500 ($90) for a brand new Minolta MAxxum HTI with a 35-80mm zoom lens you can never go wrong!

June 21, 2006 10:33 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

What I find baffling, BW, is how on earth this retailer was able to sell it at such a ridiculous low price and with a 35-80mm zoom lens to boot. Be that as it may, you really got yourself a great deal there!

It may be a good idea to befriend that retailer. Who knows? He may have future great buys and as a friend, he'll give you a head's up before showcasing them for others to see. That's what I used to do in New York's flea markets.

BTW, how about posting one of the pics you've taken with that camera? Or have you already?

June 22, 2006 9:10 AM  

Blogger BW said...

Havent posted a pic yet. I took the camera to Atlanta and Disneyworld last March. I'll try to get some pictures posted sometime.

BTW, I also bought a couple of point and shoot cameras for my wife's balikbayan box to give to her family. I got a Minolta Action Zoom II AF5 and a Konica Zoom FX50
at a ridiculous price of 10 bucks each with a free roll of film per camera. Nagpapalakas sa mga in laws ha. LOL..I thought these folks were going bankrupt and dumping their inventory or hijacked a truck of camera shipment selling them for peanuts. It was kind of crazy and people were buying all kinds of stuff - miniature tripods for 5 bucks, big tripods, camera and videocam cases, batteries, etc.. The best part was after xmas when the last items went for the most ludicrously low prices.

June 22, 2006 11:52 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.

 
 

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