A few days ago my son and I were driving home from shopping and I told him that I buy used books and that if he wanted to get me a book for Christmas, to buy used. We started to discuss what we would not buy used. On the top of his list was toothbrushes and underwear. We were laughing all the way home.
This week I have been thinking back to that silly conversation. In what areas of my life do I refuse to be frugal.
Case in point: coffee. I love coffee. Our drip coffeemaker broke 10 days ago so I pulled out an 8 cup perculator that I had purchased about 2 years ago at a big sale. I had it on hand for when the dinosaur coffee maker would finally break. After 10 days I decided to pull the plug on the perculator and put it away. I will use it for hot cider instead. The coffee just didn't taste very good. As much as I tried to like it, I couldn't. Also unlike our old coffee maker, it did not have an automatic shut off. This is important to me for obvious reasons. So this afternoon I went to the great Big Box store - Walmart and roamed the aisles for a coffeemaker. I had three guidelines: a name brand trusted drip coffee maker, reasonable price, and it had to look good on my kitchen counter. I must explain the latter. I have been collecting items so that next year when I will have the time I will be painting my kitchen and transforming it into a 1940's kitchen design. So, I wanted something retro looking. Christmas time is a good time to buy a coffee maker and I found 1 that matched my three guidlines. The cost was $49.00. My previous coffeemaker had lasted us over 10 years and it was the same brand so I felt that $49.00 was a good deal for great coffee for several years.
This morning I was moving the small kitchen table away from the wall and I thought that the toaster that was on the table was unplugged, but it wasn't. It went crashing to the floor and I got to see what a toaster looks like on the inside. Ugh. Now I not only had on my list to buy a new coffee maker but a toaster too. So while I was looking for a coffee maker I also looked for a toaster with the same three guidelines. I found one and again, it was at a great price of $24.00.
I could have bought a coffee maker for $17.00 and a toaster for $14.00 and they probably would have worked fine. The only problem is that I have had to live with buying the cheapest item before when money was limited and I have to say that after awhile I just wanted to have something that matched my kitchen decor (or future decor) and would be reliable.
I set up the coffee maker and it does have some bells and whistles. I brewed the best cup of coffee I have had in a very long time so I am happy. As to coffee, I buy Maxwell House or Folgers when they are on sale. A treat for me is whole bean coffee to grind and I do get some every now and then. But for the most part Maxwell House and Folgers works for me.
Other areas of my life I refuse to be frugal in these days.
Food: It has taken me awhile to understand that buying fresh produce and such is a good deal for my family. I will cut other areas of my food budget in order to give my family healthy choices in food. I have begun to bake my own whole wheat bread which is not only good for us but is something I enjoy. As I use up crackers and pasta from my pantry, I will replenish with homemade.
Charities: My husband and I are committed to giving to charities. We sponsor three Compassion International children and I will cut something else from the budget before I would stop helping these children. We give to our church and also to our alma mater. We have made decisions such as keeping our cars longer in order to help others. We feel that we are blessed with a home, health and a job and so many others are doing without. When we started making this a priority about 12 years ago I didn't think we would be able to afford it. Now it is second nature. The other night at church we served a meal to members of the community. I don't think I will be able to help again as my heart was breaking at the number of people who were hungry and poor. I served coffee from table to table to these people and I, like the other volunteers, treated them as if they were very wealthy. The money I give to my church helps support such a ministry. Looking back, I really should help again and not be afraid to see the reality of poverty and homeless people in my community.
Haircuts: I started to cut my DH and DS's hair. We bought some hair clippers and I have found that I do just as good a job or better than what was being done in the salon. I started this in October and the clippers have already paid for themselves. As to my hair, I have extended my hair cuts from 4 weeks to 6 weeks. My hair is layered shorter in the back and then tapered down the sides and longer in the front. This style works well for extending time between haircuts. I used to get my eyebrows waxed and have started to do it myself. I do not highlight my own hair. I am able to extend the time between highlights during the winter since my hair was always naturally darker in the winter anyway. I am not a chemist and I refuse to take the chance on color and damaging my hair. I leave that to the professionals. The cost is about $40.00 for each foil highlight session. Normally it would be every 3 months; but I am getting by with every 4 months now. I have switched my shampoo from Matrix to Suave Professionals and I have noticed no difference. We have saved about $70.00 a month by finding alternatives with haircare.
Nails: I have acrylics and although this is far from a necessity my DH agreed that we could afford to have nails in the budget. I have a friend that owns a nail salon and she attends our church and the SS class that we teach. It costs me $21.00 per visit which is every other week. If money got to be tight, I would have a very difficult time keeping nails in our budget. For me it is 1 hour of pampering myself every two weeks with friendly ladies. It is cheaper than therapy.
Pets: We have a black lab and a cat. Both are in their geriatric years. We buy Iams for the dog and the cat is on vet food. The reason our pets are healthy is the fact that we feed them premium food and we budget money for the vet and for heart worm and flea control. In the past I have made my own dog biscuits and I am going to start doing this again on my baking day. We can afford our two pets. We do not have more pets than we can afford. I love animals but I can't save every stray animal in the world.
Jeans: I could buy jeans at Wal-mart and I have in the past. With the styles these days, I can't. I refuse to wear jeans with a waist so low that - well - you get what I am saying. We have a local clothing store in our town that sells jeans that fit me perfectly, are flared and have a waist that is not low and not high. I look and feel really good in those jeans. The cost is only $30.00 which is very, very reasonable They regularly have 20% off sales and I buy two pairs of jeans every year. Wal-mart sells jeans for around $14.00. I have tried them on. They are okay but do not flatter me in the least. I will buy other clothes used and if I came upon some used jeans at Goodwill that fit me, I would buy them. I just haven't come across any there yet as obviously those women are hanging on to those jeans because they fit them!
Shoes: Since my DH and I work out, we do not skimp on quality running or walking shoes. We buy good shoes. If you buy a knockoff or really cheap shoe, you will pay for it with knee trouble, hipt trouble, shin splints and so on. We get good deals and major discounts on line for our New Balance and Asics shoes. I know that I need a new walking shoe about every 6 months, so we budget accordingly.
Health care: We visit our dentist every 6 months and go to the eye doctor once a year. My DS has a physical every year at his doctor's office for school sports. We do not take him to the $10.00 sports physical clinic as he is not really getting a physical. His doctor examines him thoroughly. I see my gynecologist once a year for an exam and pap smear. I also have a mammogram each year. My DH needs to go to the doctor. His last physical was 3 years ago. I have been on his case about this. We have health insurance that covers a portion of our medical expenses. We budget for health care. Many people these days are not as fortunate as we are.
I believe that the other areas of my life that I am frugal in helps to offset the areas that I refuse to be frugal in. In the end, I still save money and we are able to live on my husband's income alone without feeling deprived.
Next post: areas I have cut back on in order to save money.