Sunday, May 15, 2016

The constant quest for frugal living

I often wonder about other people's finances.

When I was getting my oil changed at Valvoline, the guy at the computer (not the guy under the hood) and I somehow got to chatting about spending money.....I think it stemmed from my comment that we will drive the minivan forever so we have to take care of it (it is at 140,000 miles right now).  He said that he and his wife are into guns and will sometimes drop 6K on three guns.  He also said that he says he will keep a car for a long time, but it seems like every three years he gets a new one.

I left this conversation with a lot of questions that I was too polite to ask, like:

*I wonder how much he and his wife make per year?

*I wonder how much savings they have?

*I wonder how much debt they have?

*I wonder if D and I do something wrong because I don't feel like we have 6K to just drop on something like a gun (which seems to me like a kind of non-investment-like purchase....but maybe I'm incorrect).

*I wonder if this guy was just blowing smoke up my tail?

I think how people spend/save their money is as taboo a topic as sex, and I'm not sure why.  On the one hand, neither is anyone else's business.  On the other hand, we all want to know what everyone else does.  Are we normal?  On the rare occasions when I've been in conversations about either money or sex, I find that I leave feeling better about whatever it is I am/we are doing.  If nothing else, whatever they are doing isn't something I want to do so I leave feeling ok about my/our choices.

It isn't easy to be frugal when I feel like everyone else is getting, buying, having, and I feel like we are always saving, saving, saving.  Of course, I know what our total wealth is.....and I try to remember that when I feel like we don't "have" much.  And we are able to do things once we've saved and saved.  Our master bath remodel is coming along, and we aren't having to take a loan to do it.

(And I know so many, many people have so much less than we do, which makes having this internal wrangling feel so spoiled and ridiculous.)

I try to remind myself that we are willing to spend our money for things we value improvements to the house and family vacations/memory-making.

There are other things for which I spend less:  clothes and tchotchkes for the house.

I try as much as I can to buy these items second-hand for a number of reasons.

First, it is cheaper to buy something gently used than pay full price.  This is especially important if it is an item that I'm not going to use all the time, like outdoor furniture or a knick-knack that I might tire of in a year or a dress for a wedding or evening out.

Second, it is wasteful to not reuse as much as possible.  The cost of creating, manufacturing, etc adds up and has many costs that never even cross my mind (like how much water is used in the manufacturing of the item or how much gas is used to transport it from factory to warehouse to store).

Finally, there is something cool about having items in my house that not everyone who has ever shopped at Target has in their houses.  Same with clothes.

I am not a clothes horse by any stretch of the imagination.  My favorite pair of jeans is older than N and has a hole in the knee that I earned from crawling after N...and G...and M when they were babies.  I had bought them used but did go to the Gap and purchase a brand-spanking new pair since I knew I'd  never find a pair just like this one if I tried to find them at a consignment store after a decade plus.

I am interested in attending an event that is coming up next weekend.  I expect this will be a great consignment sale because this gal's momma holds two huge kids consignment sales a year that I participate in (both selling and shopping).  I didn't discover these until G was born, and I wish to this day I had known about them when N was a baby.

I'm in search of a top or dress for family pictures we'll be taking when we head up to Michigan this summer.  I'm trying to coordinate clothing with my gang, my brother's family of five, my mom and dad, and my mother-in-law.

I've completed the boys' shopping (3 new shirts and 2 consigned shorts...D has some khakis already that he can wear):

So I'm on the hunt for myself......and I'm hoping I can get something lovely that matches for well under a small fortune $20.  

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