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Financial Karma: Is Saving Money a Zero Sum Game?

Do you ever wonder if there is an innate balance to the universe? Something where if the scales are tipped too far in favor of one extreme, they somehow are tipped back over to a new norm of moderation? We know that if a population exceeds the resources of the land, then that population will thin out from any number of reasons, including famine, plague, competition, etc. We also all are aware of the phrase “what goes around comes around” in reference to those who harm others.

These examples suggest that there is an innate balance to things, and my own experiences suggest the same—I have experienced this ‘balance’ on a more micro-level (in my own life). For example, sometimes when I think a mean thought about someone, or say something mean, I immediately ram my knee into a coffee table or stub my toe on our bed (which has been in the same spot for over two years now). Each time this happens, I look up to the sky with a little bit of pain and an “I-deserved-that” look on my face. Have you ever experienced this?

Balancing the Financial Scales in Life

This innate balance shows up in my finances also. I can’t help but wonder if a financial puppeteer—clad in a clown suit and holding a bank ledger—is towering over my life, taking note of all the freebies and discounts I have received in the last few years, and deciding that it is my time to pay back the universe and balance the scales again.

Let me give you some examples:

  1. Negotiating a Lower Home Price: We negotiate our house buying price down by $800 due to some very old AC and heating units. During the purchasing process we were under the impression that the kitchen refrigerator was included in the price (you can see where this is heading). On closing day we found that the refrigerator was in the contract to be taken by the previous owners, and so we had to buy a new fridge. The stainless steel refrigerator we decided to purchase at our local Sear’s scratch and dent [1] store was for $800.
  2. Receiving the Homebuyer Tax Credit: One week after receiving our first time homebuyer’s tax credit [2], we put the money towards paying off debts. Right after paying down our debt I get a call from an apartment I lived in over three years ago and they claim that I owe them $3,400. Oh yeah, then our other vehicle breaks down.
  3. Receiving a Merit Bonus: One week after receiving a small merit bonus the following occurred, eating up all of the bonus (thank goodness we received it!): association fees were due (and we thought we could pay them through escrow [3], which we abruptly found out we could not) and a speeding ticket for 5 miles over the speed limit on our way to Thanksgiving Dinner cost us an additional $225.

Perhaps I deserve this rebalancing of the system; if you take a look at my list of freebies from 2009 totaling over $1300 [4], I certainly made off with my share of products and services for free. Maybe my actions indirectly led to another person losing their job, or by not circulating my money more freely I have added to the problem of the recession [5] instead of being part of the solution. Either way, I have been left with some questions.

At the end of the day, do I actually save money and these extra expenses [6] were going to creep up anyway (in which case I should be very thankful that I put all of the effort into saving money), or in the karmic balance of things, did I tip the scale too far in my favor and now it’s time to ante up, (in which case all of my efforts were in vain as I would have saved the same amount in the end anyway)?

Anyone have any thoughts? Have you had any karma in your life (financial or otherwise?)