Saturday, June 19, 2010

In The Trenches - Too much of a good thing?

A couple of days ago I spent all morning writing and reading financial blogs and came away with new commitment and motivation. My goals of saving were fortified and in order to achieve this I would have to keep the goal in sight, scrutinize every expenditure and bump up the self-discipline.

I awoke on Wednesday ready to face the world with my newly invigorated self. For the last month I had been making a little list of small things I needed to purchase and had a mental amount of what I was willing to pay for each item. For the sake of the story I have to mention that one of the things on the list was a new nightie. Now it could have been anything but that’s what it was and I mention it only so you will see how ridiculous what happened next really was.

Part of my exercise plan is to do more walking so I set out on foot and walked about a mile to get to the shopping center. This was a fun and much anticipated trip because I had not spent money on clothes in ages.

I have to tell you here that I am not the typical woman shopper. I don’t like to spend money on clothes. It's not really that I am so frugal but I am really picky, I like what I like and would easily own it in every color available.  I have my very favorite things to wear and I will wear them until they wear out or someone tells me it’s time to throw it away. I know it’s strange. I have had terry cloth bathrobes that were all ripped and the only way it was replaced was because my mother got me a new one for Christmas. I love stirrup pants and for years they were not in style so I had to rummage through the thrift stores even to find them. I’m still looking for a reasonably priced pair of new tan and beige saddle shoes so if anyone knows where to get some let me know, I’ve checked ebay a number of times. The good ones of course like they sold in the sixties. Of course, when I work in a business environment I dress the part but the real me at home is content with clothes I may have had for ten or fifteen years.

I walked into the first very large department store and looked at all the items. I had set myself a limit of $8 preferred or $10 max to find a nightie. I went through all the racks and found nothing I liked and the only one that was in my price range had skull and crossbones which is just not my style and I don’t know why someone would want to wear that to bed (Just my opinion.)

On to the next store. And there it was! The nightie I wanted! It was similar to one I had bought years ago and worn to rags. I looked at the price tag. $12. And they had three different colors but only two left in my size. Then, something happened. I froze. I kept looking at the tag and I just didn’t know what to do. It was over my limit. Do I buy it or not? I just stood there indecisive. After a few minutes of not being able to reach a decision I left the store with empty hands. I walked the journey home arguing with myself all the pros and cons of why I should or should not have bought it. I thought of what my economical friend might have said, “It’s over your limit, don’t buy it”. I thought of a recent post on Finance by the Book about cost per use and knew that I would definitely get my money’s worth. I walked a mile arguing and chastising myself on both sides about a difference of $2 x 2 = $4! After all the misery I put myself through I realized that this just had to STOP.

It is a good and wise thing to live frugally. It is good and wise to exercise self-discipline and save every dollar you can to meet your goals. BUT, when it comes to the point where you are robbing yourself or someone in your family of the joy and enjoyment of living it’s time to slow down, take a breath, and be thankful for the day. Yes, I walked back and bought them. I spent an extra $4. And, I walked four miles instead of two.

The reason I had to tell you it was a nightie is so you know why I am not taking a picture of myself modeling it. I wouldn’t be doing you any favors and definitely would not qualify for Victoria’s Secret. But I did model them for the family!

The moral to the story is:  If you are going the right direction it's okay to stop and get an ice cream cone.  It just adds to the fun of the journey.


Christine said...

Well you benefited by this conundrum In two ways: you got double the exercise and you made frugal peace with yourself. :)

Now, keep that receipt because w/most stores... If the item goes on sale w/in 30 days you can just bring the reciept back and get the sale price.

Plus you can always cut $4 out of another category to balance the books

Carol said...

That's a good idea. I had debated waiting for the reduction but there was only one left in my size. I almost asked the clerk when they would do it. lol Wish I would be this aggressive and thoughtful on all my expenses including agruing with the property tax assessor!