Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On frugality

Since this is my blog and I can choose what I want to blog about, I choose to blog about money.  

Money, I'm bad with it.  I am.  I do best with an envelope of cash bearing the label "Available funds until the 15th".  

Money issues are stressful.  Paycheck to paycheck is scary if you think about it too hard.  But, being broke is pretty liberating.  There are no difficult decisions about where to invest, what restaurant to go to, which shoes to buy, you can't do any of them.  See?  Easy!  

The Husband and I try to be Buddhist in our consumption.  I am fond of telling my children "You NEED air, food, water, shelter and an education.  You WANT that." I've explained to Zoe that 'poor' means not having enough money to buy what you need.  If you have what you need, you can't be defined as 'poor'.  

I'm trying to live that philosophy myself.  And I'm learning.  We're finding ways to spend our time that don't involve cover charges.  We play game demos on our Xbox.  We take the dogs for hikes at the off-leash trail, where everyone you meet is your friend and fellow dog owner club member.  We go to the grounds of the capital building to roll down the hills and chase squirrels.  

We have friends over for grilled hot dogs.  Sometimes, we just stay home.  Ask some of the kids' friends to come over so we can goof off with less guilt.  The Husband has found a free online game he can play with his brother and a good friend.  They put on their headsets and talk with they beat creatures.  He's also found a trivia event at a really cool lounge with discounted drinks.  He meets up with friends and blows off steam.  

I go to my mom's club meetings and some of the gatherings.  Luckily, our club president this year is sensitive to the  current economic climate, outings are inexpensive or can be attended without the benefit of cash.  

For the most part, our life is good.  I'm learning to be appreciative for the things we have.  

When I get resentful of our situation I remind myself that we have health insurance.  In the past, when The Husband and I would discuss a job offer, the first question I would ask would be about benefits.  When he was in graduate school, the health benefits from my $7 an hour retail job came in handy more than once. 

When he got the job offer to work for Microsoft in 2000 we were most excited about the benefits.  God's own benefits we called them.  

In addition to health insurance, we have a great house in a good neighborhood in an excellent school district with dozens of kids nearby.  There are many teenagers willing to mow my lawn.  (although my regular guy is going to have to be let go as he ran over our hose and didn't tell us.  It would have been okay if he'd told us, but the exclusion of this info means he can't mow our lawn for awhile)  

Sometimes, I have to be firm with myself, listing clean water, access to medical care and an ability to buy food among the things I should be thankful for.  

I've been saying since the banks crashed, that frugality is the new luxury.  There is a great deal of status to be gained by purchasing second hand and reduce/reuse/recycling.  More and more people are staying home.  We realization that we are not alone in our troubles makes it easier.  

But, there are days I pack the dishwasher as full as it can possibly be, put a package of beans into the slow cooker, make tortillas and then sit on our ratty couch to daydream about restaurants with valet parking.  I fantasize about flipping through 180 channels of programming while having fresh bagels from the local bakery before heading off to the gourmet grocery store.  Vacations in the U.K, home renovations, a new car every five years.  

Then I move my laundry to the dryer, take the morning break I allow myself to watch Judge Judy on Youtube while having a cup of coffee made in the coffee maker we got for free by trading in MySurvey credits.  

It's a tough lifestyle to accept, having grown up in the crazy 80's and with the extreme, over the top consumerism of the 2000's  still lingering, but I'm slowly learning.

Pass the beans and rice, it's a complete protein.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Curling your eyelashes will make your eyes look bigger.  If you need help figuring out the eyelash curler, drop me a line I'll walk you through it.  :)

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