I’ve been very un-frugal…
Evidence #1 (children’s clothes)
A few months ago, I created a fun chart about possible frugal substitutes. The idea was that you can replace pricey wants like vacations and massages with cheaper options that fulfill the same need. Looking back, the intent was good but I’ve totally ignored my own advice for the past few weeks!
I went on a short trip. I bought a new computer. I got a massage. I went shopping. I bought some clothes and a new purse. AND I keep browsing online shopping sites. In short, I have been choosing expensive wants instead of examining the reason behind my sudden desire to buy, buy, buy. The only possible exception is eating out but my husband and I did some of that, too. It just hasn’t been a budget buster because we still eat home most days or tend to choose inexpensive places when we do go out.
I cannot justify my choices but I really needed a vacation!
The lovely purse I bought about 2-3 months ago finally went on sale. It’s about $65 less, plus there was an additional discount coupon on the retailer’s site. I thought about buying it again and returning one, despite the hassle, but the return period had already expired on my original purse purchase. Last year, something similar happened on a pair of flats. While I have had success with waiting for seasonal clearance, I often jump the gun a few months/weeks too soon because I’m afraid they’ll run out of my size or color. Of course, they never do! It’s not that I regret the purchase but it would save me some serious dough if I practice delayed gratification better!
I’ve never thought of myself as a purse lover. When I look through magazines, I don’t really get excited about the new “it” purses. I never aspired to own designer purses. I have exactly 3 purses for work — 2 in black, and 1 fabric/brown for summer and spring, plus a few smaller ones for weekends but my “collection” would certainly not peg me as a purse aficionado.
Now for the confession which you probably could guess was coming… I splurged on a beautiful black leather bag. This is now one of my 2 black work bags. I bought it partly because my other black bag had seen better days and I thought I needed another option. I also loved the design and quality of this $400 bag*. And it was on sale. And I had gotten a small bonus which I promised to use for a splurge rather than saving it as usual.
I had been eyeing this purse for weeks (months) and it was not going on sale. It had gotten excellent reviews online regarding its quality and versatility. I had small hopes that it would go on sale or if it did, my color would be sold out. Of course I think that the purse may become a permanent part of the designer’s line-up as it seems quite popular.
I’m glad I bought it.
The reason for my lack of expensive purses is not that I can’t afford one or that I don’t sometimes admire nice-quality purses. It’s just that other than the workplace, I can usually be found running errands at decidedly normal places like Walmart, Costco, Target, CVS, and the occasional fast food joint. I have seen women carrying expensive purses into McDonalds, for example, but it seems like an odd juxtaposition to me. I feel like I should be dining at a nice restaurant, not throwing my beautiful leather bag on a vinyl dining booth seat.
In other words, my beautiful bag doesn’t seem utilitarian enough for my simple lifestyle (and one that involves messy toddlers, too!) I’m wondering if others have this same thought as I do. Do expensive purses fit your lifestyle, or do you not even consider this?
* After a 20% discount and some credit card rewards, the total was about $330 including taxes. Shipping was free. Still high for me!
I’m beginning to think that my husband and I are frugal opposites, not in the classic saver vs. spender situation, but we’re frugal in such opposite ways that we still somehow disagree on spending (and saving) priorities to some extent.
First off, we are both fairly frugal. However, I am more willing to spend money when I think it saves time, like on like housecleaning, moving or computer tech help and the like. My husband is more of a DIY-er especially related to household things like dishwasher installation, property fixes, etc.. even if it can take him a lot of time and it’s not always easy to figure out. And I guess since he’s more of a DIY-er in aspects that he’s good at, he’s also hesitant to spend money in areas just to save time (since in theory we could tackle housecleaning, for example, on our own). After having kids, he did come around to hiring housecleaning help and I guess he was never completely against it; he just saw less reason for it than I did/do.
If any spending is remotely related to career or career-advancement, he will spend the money (or want to), while I still like to weigh the return on investment. This is a tough one because there are countless job-related spending opportunities from books to classes to conferences. As for measuring ROI, how do you know if that networking event or conference will result in leads and work? I tend to give it one-shot and that’s it. Say, I attend one conference but if I don’t get much out of it, I won’t go to ANY ever again. My husband wouldn’t rule out all conferences that way; he would look into another conference or would still be open to returning to the same conference after some time has passed. Since work-related events are often costly, this can become a sore point. I think I usually “win out” but I wonder if I’m holding him or myself back from true career opportunities. He’s been creative at networking on the cheap (with real results) and I do try to be open-minded about pricier opportunities but I still have a hard time justifying that spending.
I have a harder time pulling the trigger on purchases in general. My husband doesn’t really pay attention to small-item purchases but hesitates on big item purchases (like furniture or appliances). I guess I believe that little things add up and this is why I still use coupons, look for sales to stock up on household items, send in rebates, and pay attention to recurring expenses/bills. I know that my husband doesn’t really understand why I call our internet/cable/phone provider every year. However, one year, I knocked down $40+ per bill ($480 annually) and I’m pretty proud of that!
Our different spending habits haven’t been a contentious issue, however, because we do always talk about big purchases. Even if we don’t always agree, both of us have a say. I also think that it’s been a fairly even split in terms of who “wins” in the final decisions. In many cases, we reach a compromise by setting a budget that we both feel comfortable with, delaying the purchase a bit, or not spending at all, without the other one holding a grudge.
Are you and your significant other opposites in terms of spending/saving? Are you both frugal yet still have different spending habits?
Okay, this sounds totally crazy but I actually set up Google Alerts for a few of my favorite brands/products. Since setting these, I’ve been notified of rebates from brands such as L’oreal and Olay. These rebates are often $10 or higher and make a big difference if you stock up when there’s a rebate, sales and manufacturer or store coupon. If you’re not a coupon master, you’ll save money even if you buy the product at Walmart’s regular low prices and then send in the rebate. (Yes, you have to be willing to actually mail in a form!) Anyway, it’s super simple to set up and worth it for certain brands that regularly offer rebates.