Monday, February 4, 2008

The Money Step.

I recently finished Jeff Yeager's Ultimate Cheapskate book. While I was reading it I didn't find anything particularly new or challenging in it. Perhaps that's the reason I'm still thinking about it- the simplistic message is just that- simple. Don't spend money. Things don't make you happy. Do things for yourself.
It's so weird how our Grandparents generation took these simple ideas for granted. How far off track have we come in just two generations?

Now doing things our grandparents used to do is seen as antiquated and crazy. Why bake bread when you can just go buy a loaf for 2.50? Why drive a 20 year old beater car when you can lease a new one for just $250 a month? How much of our lives are we giving away for the sake of ease and 'lifestyle'?

I'm guilty of this too. I've only recently started really thinking of how many money steps I take for ease, convenience and dare I say it- vanity.

Just last night I was in two different grocery stores with a handful of cash and my husbands credit card trying to decide how much stuff to buy in case I couldn't use his card. It changed my shopping- not being able to completely rely on that little piece of plastic. At Trader Joes, I didn't buy the frozen tiramisu, the green tea yogurt, or the sparkling lemonade that I was tempted to buy. Instead I stuck to my mental list of what we were out of. Then I dropped into Save-A-Lot for a few things that were still on my list. Their credit card machines weren't working. So, instead of the twenty dollars of unnecessary stuff that I would have gotten- I walked out spending a little over $5.00 and finishing my grocery shopping for the week for $40.00. How much would I have spent with my credit card- all the while thinking I would get a little money back?

Am I truly frugal or do I just like to bargain hunt? What is it that keeps me from truly skipping the money step?

Hubby took this picture of the kids and I yesterday at the St. Louis zoo. Big Girl had completed her Clean Toy Room Reward Chart and she picked the Mardi Gras Parade at the zoo for her reward. We had a great time. There was free face painting, craft activities, a short zydeco concert (to which both kids had a great time exuberantly dancing) and because of the chilly weather it was pleasantly uncrowded. We spent good quality time together as a family. I thought we were having a great frugal family time. Then we sat down to eat our cafeteria lunch of one free kids meal (we're zoo members and both kids have February birthdays) and one purchased pizza/soft drink meal. I think we spent $8.00 on lunch for the four of us. Hubby turned to me in the middle of eating and said, "I'm not feeling very frugal. The people next to us packed their lunch." And I looked up to see a young family with their cooler full of water in recycled bottles, sandwiches and apples. It hadn't even occurred to me to bring a lunch. I thought we were doing well by using a coupon for the kids to share one meal and paying for one for the adults to share. I wondered just how much better their own packed meal tasted than ours.

How much more enjoyable would my life be if I took the harder road of skipping the money step more often?

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