Monday, March 24, 2014

If I had all the money in the world

I've begun to realize that, for me, frugality is in my DNA.  Maybe it's the combination of having a Scottish/Jewish ancestry (two groups stereotypically known for their thriftiness) or perhaps it is just having learned the value of a dollar from growing up lower middle-class.  Either way, the fact is, there is a lot of overpriced stuff in the world today, and I'm not buying it -- both metaphorically and literally.

I was in Chico's the other day, for instance, looking for a blouse/necklace/jeans combo I'd seen in one of their ads.  The ad appealed to me, in the way only good ads can do. "Yes, that is the look I've been searching for.  I must have it."

Not worth it.

So I popped over to the store and priced it out.  The blouse I had wanted was $75.  The jeans were the same.  The necklace was the lowest-priced of the lot, at $49.50.

"Get them, if you want them," Big Ag encouraged (God I love that man).  

But I just couldn't do it.  I just couldn't fork over the $200 American for that one outfit.

Later that week, I hit my other favorite boutiques -- the Goodwill here in town, Kohls, and the outlet store of Coldwater Creek Online.  At Goodwill I found two fitted, button-down shirts of the same style and fabric that the Chico's ones were, but for $4 each.  Kohl's was having a 75% off sale on jewelry, and I found a very similar necklace to the Chico's one, only mine was on sale for $16.  And I bought a pair of ankle jeans in the Coldwater Creek Outlet Store for $25.  The grand total?  About $50 bucks.  

And it all looks just as good, put together, as it did in the Chico's ad.

And so it goes.  We all have things we are willing to pay full price for, and things we refuse to pay the going rate to have. And so I made a little mental list of what I'd probably still bargain-basement hunt for, even if I won the lottery tomorrow and had millions of dollars at my disposal.

If I had all the money in the world, I would probably still shop the Goodwill, Kohl's and Coldwater Creek Outlet store. 

If I had all the money in the world, I would still probably only buy a car only once every 15-20 years or so. Cars last a long time if you take care of them.

If I had all the money in the world, I would still grow my own food, make my own soap, and bake my own bread.
Definitely worth it.

I would, however, pay $800 for a farmhouse sink I liked, buy a solar oven, and probably own more livestock than any sane person should.

We all have our weaknesses and the places we refuse to pay the market rate.  I know homesteaders who, literally, buy nothing new, but I've gotten more use and more pleasure out of my farmhouse sink than any person has a right to, and so, for me, the farmhouse sink was a luxury purchase I feel absolutely no guilt about.  

I guess the trick is to scrimp where you can and splurge where you feel it's necessary. I'm sure our great-grandparents had certain items -- farm equipment, animal housing, good quality shoes -- which they were willing to pay top dollar for (if they could afford to) and other things they would not.

Homesteading does not mean denying yourself everything the modern, material world offers, it just means thinking about the financial, ecological, and personal impact those purchases have, and choosing wisely what you'll pay for new, and what you can buy at a discount, make yourself, barter, or trade for.

Balance in everything, right?


  1. I so totally agree with buy & pay whatever your feel is fair for something that you love & will use & love using. I only shop for clothes at TJ Maxx, Steinmart, discount stores & only whatever is on sale at regular stores. But, I pretty much despise shopping in general.

    1. DFW, I actually like to long as I'm getting a good deal. Shopping among overpriced merchandise is, indeed, a special kind of hell lol.

  2. Haha I'm with you. I love that sink! And good for you on bargain shopping the apparel. That's the kind of stuff I do feel guilty about when I spend too much. Cooking equipment, Barbie's questionably extravagant homemade food--that kind of stuff I don't sweat. It's all about the personal value we place on things.

    1. Exactly. And if it's giving you a great deal of pleasure or, in Barbie's case, making you feel she is healthier and safer, then to me it's worth a little extra money. I think it's the mindless spending that's the serves no purpose, and gives no pleasure.