When it’s time to spend

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Before

We have been in a pretty focused saving mode for several months now.  We’re trying to save up a 6 month emergency fund, and hopefully we’ll have that in place by the time the baby arrives in September.  Some say that having too strict of a budget is just a recipe for a spending binge later on.  I can relate to some of that.  There are times where I find myself saying, “If we had more money, I would get x, y, and z . . .”  but for the most part, I’ve found that having a steady, consistent plan of action creates a mental momentum toward not spending.  If you get used to having a smaller amount to live on every month, then it’s sometimes easier not to spend when extra money does come in, because you’ve already created a habit.  This was what made spending a little on a new blender and closet shelf system this month feel quite strange. 

Our blender, which was a hand-me-down from my husband’s bachelor days, had been in the “make do” mode.  We already had lost the sealer ring to it, and had to hold the plug at a special angle to get the wiring to work.  But, when you just blend something for 30 seconds, what’s the point of spending money on a new blender just so you don’t have to hold the plug?  Isn’t that what two hands are for?

It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago, though, that my husband came and said that he thought the blender was really on its last legs.  He had shocked himself holding the wire, and even though he had wrapped the exposed part with electrical tape, we now had to hold the wire at a very weird angle to get it to work.  Since we were below budget this month on gas expenditures, we had a little to put toward a new blender, and decided to go ahead and get one. 

And even though we try to keep the closets we use more regularly in some sort of functional state, the living room closet pictured at the top of this post was one of those places that we used very rarely – usually just to get store Christmas decorations, wrapping paper, and the vacuum.  But it was such an eyesore, and stressed me out every time I opened the door not just because of its ugliness, but because its ugliness threatened to fall down on us every time we needed to get something from the 6 foot pile, so we decided to use just a bit of our tax return to get this shelf system from IKEA.  There are still a few things we need to get rid of or sell to make it feel less crammed, but at least I won’t have to take out the entire closet to get to one box at the bottom.  And the striped boxes in the picture are threatening to fall apart every time I pull them out, but given that they hold Christmas decorations, I think we can wait until Christmas to replace them.

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Did we spend?  Yes.  Was that okay?  I think so.  We actually laughed as we were going in to Home Depot to get a board to add to my husband’s closet for extra shelving after we had indulged in our free breakfast at IKEA around the corner.  “Finally,” we said, “we’re exercising our ‘consumer confidence,’ ” referring to the irritating phrase the media has used lately to lament the rise of frugality.  But unlike the media’s interpretation of confidence, which comes from just walking into a store and buying something without asking yourself where the money is going to come from, ours is coming from knowing exactly where the money will come from, and being willing to wait on something or use it till it tries to electrocute you before you replace it. 

We still like being frugal.  I had contemplated adding a nice, pre-made plastic wrapping paper organizer from an organizing store, but then realized that with a $1 plastic shoebox I got from Target and the blender box from our new blender, we wouldn’t need to spend $20 on something else.  It’s not the prettiest organizer in the world right now. But then again, who’s looking?

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3 thoughts on “When it’s time to spend

  1. “I’ve found that having a steady, consistent plan of action creates a mental momentum toward not spending. ”
    Spot on! I haven’t spent more than $20 on anything other than food and utilities since January and never in my life would I have thought it was possible but then your doing it and you realize ” wow, this is no big deal at all!” Once you change your focus from new- update- change- improve to save and make do, a certain peacefullness descends doesn’t it? I wrote abit that you might enjoy
    http://radicalsahm.blogspot.com/2009/02/trappings-trap.html
    Anyhoot, fight on! Your path is a righteous one!

  2. One of my friends and I marvel at how much the little things can tickle you if you’re really unplugged from consumer culture! Only a frugal person on a tight budget would think it’s fun to buy closet organizing things :) Way to go!

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