This is my new favorite quote about money:
I should point out that I don't normally use the word "amortize" unless I'm trying to prove that something I can't really afford is not just a bargain but practically free. This usually involves dividing the cost of the item I can't afford by the number of years I'm planning to use it, or, if that doesn't work, by the number of days or hours or minutes, until I get to a number that is less than the cost of a cappuccino.It's from a New Yorker article (June 5th issue) that caused a bit of a buzz here in the city: Nora Ephron tells the story of her love affair with an apartment that she lived in for many years, in the Apthorp, a grand old building on the Upper West Side. The "amortization" she's referring to above was in relation to her paying $24,000 in "key money," i.e., bribery for the right to move in to her rent-controlled apartment in 1980. At the time, the rent was $1,500 (about $3,500 in today's dollars), which wasn't bad for 8 rooms. Sometime in the 1990's, Ephron falls victim to NY state's luxury decontrol law stating that anyone whose rent is over $2000 and whose earnings are more than $250,000 a year then becomes subject to market rate rents. I say "victim" rather lightly here, because I think this kind of decontrol is a very good thing and anyone who whines about it should be slapped, and worse.
Ephron writes "It was totally unfair! It was completely unjust!" Some readers of the article seemed to find that a bit annoying, but I think she's being ironic. Sure it sucks to find out your home of many years is suddenly going to cost triple what you're currently paying, even when you know you make plenty of money, and as Ephron points out, sometimes it's not about money, it's about love. She renews her lease at the exhorbitant new market rate rent but the next time it comes due and the rent hits the five figures, she falls out of love, and moves out.
Funny, isn't it, that "amortize" sounds as if it could be derived from the same Latin root as amor/amore/amour: love, as if paying for something for years and years were somehow associated with deep and timeless love. But it's not-- it's from admortire: ad: to, and mort-: death. The paying goes on and on until something dies. Money, love, and death... powerful stuff.