I have noticed lately I am getting rather materialistic in my “old age.” Lately, it just seems like everywhere I go there’s something I want, be it accessories, clothes or those crisp, clear LCD TVs.
Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbors’ Shoes
I hate these urges because they make me unhappy. It makes me realize all the things I don’t have. And that’s silly because I have plenty. Do I need every pretty color of lipstick out there? I really hope not, or I’d better start shopping for a bigger makeup case, too.
And it’s not just debt that keeps me from buying these things. Even with money in the bank, I doubt I will ever be able to pay hundreds for a pair of pants (or purse, or whatever) just because it’s designer. I think something in my constitution would physically stop me from handing over my credit card.
Happiness is what you make of it
In commenting on “20 reasons frugal living makes me happy” by StoryGirl, I realized that I lived simply before meeting Tim, and more often than not, I enjoyed it. And I still can. So my goal for awhile: Less wanting, more appreciating.
I know I can do this because I am a total packrat. I cling to things long after I ought to (which makes de-cluttering an ongoing effort).
For example: We used my MP3 player for music at the wedding. When we got back, no one knew where it was. I was heartbroken.
It’s got… character
Now, this is just a piece of equipment, and arguably rather low on the technology scale. It has a scroll button instead of the handy arrows or touchpads.
But it was the first thing I was able to buy for myself after I had to stop working and go on disability. I saved MyPoints for about a year and a half before I had enough. And in that time, I researched. This was the first piece of technology that I knew about, not having to rely on salespeople to tell me what I wanted. It was a proud moment.
And for 4 years, I have used that MP3 player at least twice a week.
First comes denial, then anger, then acceptance
We found a suitable replacement, and it was only $20 after rebate.
So why did I actually get a little teary when I thought about never seeing my old MP3 player again? (Embarrassing, but true.)
It’s because in my mind that player is inextricably linked to a very hard time in my life: no money, no certainty at all. Yet when I set my mind to the task of deciding on and saving for an MP3 player, I accomplished it thoroughly and well. In that one aspect of my life, I knew what I wanted and how to get it. And now that was gone — literally stolen from me.
I realized that I had to get over it and get used to a new MP3 player which was, in many ways, superior to my old one. But it was little comfort. And just as I was getting my mind around the idea of a new player, we discovered my old player buried in a bag of pillar candles!
I swooped it up with glee — and that’s probably the only time I’ll say that about anything other than my future kid(s) — and went to tell Tim the good news. (And it was indeed good news, since he got to keep the newer MP3 player which has a rechargeable battery and a color screen.)
What did we learn, class?
Well, first off, I learned that I’m even more rigid than initially suspected, which is something I will have to work on. I’ve never been good at rolling with the punches — though that’s never stopped the punches from coming.
But I also re-learned that there is value in frugality. When you buy randomly, on a whim, things hold very little value. If you wait — well the waiting seems eternal and unbearable — but the item will mean so much more.
So, now, when I look longingly at the jewelry counters or have the urge to go to Marshall’s, I ask myself whether it’s worth putting off debt payments. It never is. Often, 24 hours later, I can’t even remember what it was that I liked so much.
Buying without a thought is fun, I’m sure, but I like to think it’s reflected in the things around us. And if you don’t care about most of the stuff in your house, what kind of home is it, really?
What do you buy too easily? How do you cope?