20 Comments

  1. – “overcorrected like a fifteen-year-old on a learner’s permit” !! 😀 – Great post and great message! Life’s about balance and it isn’t always easy to find the balance that works for each of us.

  2. It’s a fine line between making thoughtful purchases and justifying frivolous expenses, but we succeed with our goals when we find a level of spending that’s sustainable.

    It’s similar to the thought about working one or two more years: we could spend nothing, be miserable, and burn out faster, or we could spend a little more and work a little longer but come out miles ahead financially.

    We just need to make sure the pendulum doesn’t swing too far.

  3. Katelynne

    I have been asking this question a lot with wedding decisions & associated spending. I’ve found it easier to spend the money than I thought I would – we aren’t going too frugal nor too expensive. But by asking about every purchase (I’ve got a similar list of questions just for that spending) I feel like we’ll come out the other side married with a fun time under our belts and that makes me happy. I am so not a spender so I thought I’d feel a lot of guilt around it.

    Enjoyed this post!

    • Thanks, Katelynne! We spent more than a lot of frugal bloggers on our wedding, and I wouldn’t trade a thing. We mostly put our money towards the food, the drinks, the music. Basically, how we interacted with everyone. Some of my very favorite memories with my very favorite people were made that night! I’d be hard pressed to put a real price on that. Not saying I couldn’t have done it for less, but I think it’s easier to regret spending big on the stuff part versus the people part. I can’t wait to hear about your decisions! 🙂

  4. I think for me, the challenging part has been to decouple my mood from my spending. I absolutely used to use shopping as a distraction from my bigger issues. I probably still do, to a smaller extent. It’s a LOT harder to come face to face with your emotions than it is to go to the mall and try on a bunch of clothes. And yes, I have probably over-corrected, and now I have the tendency to scold myself for buying things. It’s important to not use shopping as therapy, but it’s also important to let yourself enjoy buying new things and spending money when it’s appropriate!

    • Yup. I had a professor in undergrad who taught a philosophy course. He made me read Veblen, the conspicuous consumption guy. The prof was big on telling us all (and me specifically) that we try to fill voids with stuff. Turns out, he’s not wrong 😉

  5. I like to think I spend very intentionally. I tend to focus on the “what do I gain?” question. If the spending adds very little value, I tend to skip it. That said, I’m far from perfect here. I sometimes fall for the clearance and “just in case” items. But with a little effort, I’ve even been able to curtail this spending. For me, the key is to stay out of the stores.

    I do spend more on experiences – vacations are never sacrificed, though I we do keep them within a strict budget. I value time with friends and family, even if it costs some money. I never want to look back and wonder what I missed by trying to save a few bucks.

    • Yes, time with others is never wasted, I don’t think. Of course, it’s still important to be reasonable. But I’ll regret shoes that I never wore way more than I would ever regret a coffee date with an old friend!

  6. Such a good post! Everybody values purchases differently, has different goals, and different financial situations. There’s no reason saving for the future had to mean 0 purchases today!

  7. We typically do a cooling off period for larger things. If I still want it after three weeks then there is a good chance the value is real. In the background my brain is asking your questions plus is there an alternative. Is there some other less expensive way to meet the need?

    • That’s a great plan! I burn myself waffling sometimes. Things go out of stock, prices go back up. But then I actually have to confront the fact of whether I ever really wanted it in the first place.

  8. Great post Penny! I especially love the asking yourself what you will do with this in one week, one month. I usually prefer spending money on experiences instead of material things (we’ve got enough crap!) but it’s a waste if it’s not on something you will actually remember doing. Is this concert going to be one I remember years down the road or is it just something to fill a Saturday night? Is this restaurant meal worth paying for or will I forget all about it next week? Way to make me think about things a little harder 🙂

  9. Those are GREAT things to think about before making a purchase!

    I’m not much of a spender. I bought “nothing” for a long time when I was first laid off, and it’s the worst. It taught me a lot though, and I tend to think even more thoroughly about what I’m spending my money on now than I thought I did before.

  10. I love this! I’m really terrible with clothes. I either buy things with minimal thought as to how they will fit into my existing wardrobe, I make up new categories to let myself buy something, or I try too hard to not buy something to the point that I don’t believe that I need to replace it!

  11. Great post! I like to think about What do I have? first, so I can think about substitutes (or holes that need filling.)

    Will I use it next week and next month is probably a good one, though. I was asking yesterday if we had a potato masher, and thinking about how easily I could get one at Dollar Tree. But I might only use it 2-3 times a year, and a fork works too. I got plenty of them.

  12. So I’m weird. As you know.

    When I feel flush, I don’t spend. I don’t feel any need to buy anything outside food (for which I have many and varied cravings at the best of times, let’s not talk about what happened during pregnancy!), household supplies, and food. Meaning – my spirit of DIY and Make Do Without is fully powered up and I will take on any house DIY or fix-it project because I do NOT need to get a new thing if I can make the old thing work a little longer. I mend things, I patch, I rub a little shine into the old cranky electronics, and only after I’ve exhausted all the possible fixes do I consider what I would spend to replace it.

    When I feel poor, I *want* to spend. When I have to find a quarter of a million dollars for a down payment, my soul gets grumpy and antsy and it turns to “why can’t I get that really nice sweater” for comfort. I have to repeatedly exercise willpower to remind myself that I don’t want that thing, I want the feeling of being not poor. Spending is pretty much the stupidest way to get that feeling! It’s not a fun dance but it’s something I’m very aware of, so at least it’s easier to spot before I become the trainwreck of the PF blogosphere.

    The net result is that usually my spending averages out to a reasonably controlled set of choices, with the occasional misstep that can usually be returned. Like that super cute insulated backpack for JuggerBaby’s lunch. After 2 weeks, we found a good enough way to transport zir lunches and returned the lunch pack.

  13. Amy (closet kwalden01)

    What a great post! I will be asking myself these questions going forward. I have been at both ends of the spectrum as well, and am desperately seeking that balance of saving & spending smartly. I’m so glad I found your blog!

  14. I try to think about actually using the item and also if I would be willing to give something away that I already own for that item to replace. One in and one out!

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