Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Forgetting the Joneses & getting back on track financially

Both of the kids had spring break last week so I took them to visit their cousins in Alabama. We had a great time. I brought my recently widowed Mom along for a much needed break. It's always interesting to take a peek into the way other people live. But, I am highly conscious of how impressionable and malleable I am when faced with other peoples attitudes and lifestyles. I also noticed when a part of me started thinking, "Why can't I have nice things like this?" and "I deserve a nice house too." Wow! It was not a proud moment. I already have more than most people do and yet I started to feel dissatisfied with my own lot.

My BIL makes more than twice what my Hubby does. They have a huge house which has been decorated by my SIL's decorator mother. Everything they have is nice and new. This is a lot different from my own home with it's thrifted treasures and furnishings. I began to feel like my own home was shabby in comparison. I forgot how different my own values were from theirs. My SIL and BIL are frugal in their own ways. They buy in bulk from a warehouse, shop for quality kid's clothing at thrift stores and clearance racks, resell outgrown toys and clothes and eat out only occasionally. I could benefit from doing these things also. But, things like turning down the thermostat, washing out baggies, buying generics, and making your own laundry detergent are deemed as pointless and cheap by SIL.

The last month and half have not been kind to my wallet. In my grief and exhaustion after my father's death last month, I took to shopping without a plan, coupons, or worries. If I wanted it, it went into the cart. I had wandered off the frugal path. Our checking account is down to an unacceptable level of comfort for us and there is nothing to blame except my random spending. I bought a deluxe pedicure (something I never do), Born shoes (my first pair), designer perfumes (dirt cheap), an unneeded purse, and mountains of junk food. I ate out almost daily. Now my pants are too tight also.

Now the fog is lifting and I am left feeling a bit ashamed of my financial behavior of the past few weeks. I have vowed to get it back on track. I want to see that extra missing thousand back in our checking account so we can breathe easier. Today I vowed that I would not leave the house and instead I need to clean and cook. I need to take care of what I have rather than wish or shop for a life I don't need or really want.

My dream of having a little sparsely filled cottage to share with Hubby after the kids leave is clashing violently against the life I tried to lead recently. So, I'll be resorting my priorities and making choices that outline and define the life we truly want to lead.
I want a life filled with love, joy, and family. I can't buy any of those things.


Heather said...

Jenny, sometimes we all feel the way you did at your BIL's house. I think it's only human, especially for women, to contrast and compare, and to hold ourselves up to sometimes impossible standards.

Don't feel guilty for spending more after your father's death. Everyone deals with grief in different ways. I know that since Daniel was born, I've spent far more on groceries than ever before, and yes, I am hungrier because of breastfeeding, but I also recognize that eating has become a source of comfort. It's a way to cope with exhaustion and disappointment.

The point I'm making is that it's OK to stumble sometimes on your frugal path, but the important thing is that you pick yourself up and keep going. And you're doing that! You should be proud of yourself!

Prayers coming your way, my friend.

P.S. "Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica."

Anonymous said...

I think everyone goes through that feeling of wanting more especially after a loss. Great job on coming to the realization of it after a short period of time. Wish you the best.

Rhonda in OK said...

you are right that you can't buy happiness, You know the kind of lifestyle that will give you peace and satisfaction - you will find your way back to it

but don't be too hard on yourself, you have have been through a very hard time and it may take awhile to get things back on schedule

jonceramic said...

I love you.
p.s. Quad Desk.