Right now in Augusta, someone is trying to figure out how to get the state an extra $119 million without, you know, robbing a bank. Or several banks.
Or all of the banks everywhere.
It’s a tough job, that, and Shopping Siren doesn’t envy the budget battlers at all. Red, though lovely for Valentine’s Day, is a uniformly bad color for accounting.
But that’s not to say budget reshaping has to be an entirely dismal affair. Jumbo sticky notes! Fashion file folders! Tape with flair!
A $119 million budget gap has to look less daunting when you’re fully caffeinated with an official As Seen On TV reusable Cafe Cup.
Not dealing with a multimillion-dollar budget gap? First, a hearty congratulations. But alas, there are always taxes to do and finances to manage, which can also be made more fun.
Three words: superhero flash drive.
* Sharpie markers, OfficeMax, $4.99
Five-pack of fine-point Sharpies. One blue, one green, one red and two black. Which, if you think about it, is precisely the proper ratio of black ink to red.
* DiVOGA fashion file folders, nine-pack, OfficeMax, $5.99
Forget that gross of manila file folders bought on sale 15 years ago and tucked away in the basement. Too plain. Too depressing. (And I hate to say it, but they smell a bit moldy by now.) These folders dazzle in pretty patterns, including billowing flowers, little pink dots and a purple giraffe print. Let me repeat that: purple giraffe print! Because filing doesn’t have to be sad.
* Emtec superhero 4GB USB flash drive, OfficeMax, $11.99
Holy memory, Batman! This tiny action figure-like superhero can hold about 1,000 songs, 2,000 photos or a handful of movies. So that budget spreadsheet should be no problem at all. In your choice of heroes, including Batman and Wonder Woman. Just remember: With great power comes great responsibility.
* Poppin jumbo memo sheets, Staples, $6
One-hundred palm-sized sticky notes in bright pink, yellow, green or orange. “Still must find $57 million!” looks cheerier when jotted on a large orange square.
* As Seen On TV Cafe Cup, Staples, $9.99
You know those K-Cups and coffee pods? These are like those, but reusable. Spoon your favorite coffee into one of these four single-serve cups, pop it in your coffee maker and then enjoy the buzz that comes with a fully caffeinated afternoon of crunching numbers.
* Staples value pack calculators, Staples, $10
One big desktop-style calculator and one little pocket-sized calculator. Both solar-powered with battery backup. For basic math. Or hitting on the person sitting next to you by writing HELLO in digital numbers. Which is what I would use it for.
* Fat Book mini notebook, Staples, $2
Happy puppy covers! Fluffy kitten covers! No matter what you write within these 150 pages, you’re guaranteed to smile.
* Correction tape, Family Dollar, $1.30
Spot error. Cover error. Fix error. Move on with life. Huzzah!
* Pencil-top erasers, Family Dollar, $1.25
Packet of colorful pencil-top erasers. For both plain and colorful mistakes.
Best find: DiVOGA fabric document wallet, OfficeMax, $3.99
Fabric-covered document wallet with a magnetic clasp. Looks like a really big envelope but in a cool black-and-white or black-and-brown zigzag pattern. Beats the heck out of the old way of keeping documents: a box.
Think twice: Duck brand duct tape, 10 yards, OfficeMax, $4.99
In a variety of patterns, including, most notably, grinning cartoon pickles ordering you to “Dill with it!” I admit, I burst out laughing in the middle of OfficeMax when I spotted those cheeky pickles. But it’s too tempting to use them for nefarious purposes. Duct-taping a budget opponent to her chair, for example. Or securing the envelope for sending your taxes off to the IRS.
It’s all fun and pickles until someone gets audited.
Shopping Siren’s true identity is protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who once tried to see whether red Sharpies tasted different from black Sharpies) and the Customer Service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.