My Money Story - The Forties

In November 2006 we made an important and necessary decision that would allow us to move on with our lives. Our income dropped but the bills were still there. We had to use credit cards to cover bills and groceries for several months.

And now we stand here, thousands of dollars in debt and when I read some PF blogs, I feel envious and guilty that I’m not as frugal as they are, or have been over the years.

For example, if we didn’t spend $3000 on the wedding, the money given to us by our friends and family could have been applied toward our debt, instead of directly to the money spent on the wedding expenses. On the other hand, if we didn’t have the wedding we would not have been gifted with that money in the first place. Maybe we should have eloped or just went in front of a justice of the peace. Some people consider weddings to be frivolous expenditures. I used to, too. That is something I’ve learned about myself as I grow older. I’m sick of being poor and doing without some of the things I want. I’m tired of not being able to spend any money on me. I see it as a re-creation of my childhood, when I had not a dime to my name.

I am still frugal in many ways. I keep my hair long and I don’t color it, or perm it. I never plan to color my hair, even when I start turning gray. I have my mom or husband trim my hair once in a great while. I did splurge for my wedding and pay my friend to do my hair, nails and makeup. But she’s in a spot and could really use the money. Otherwise I’m sure she would have done it for a gift. I keep my nails short, so there is no monthly expense for fake nails, or polish and remover. I wear jewelry sparingly and then not for months at a time. I have three pairs of earrings and two necklaces. I would like a necklace and pair of earrings with a pearl motif, but I won’t be buying real pearls. I do require at least 14k gold as my ears cannot tolerate¬† cheaper metals. I use a deodorant stone – my current stone has lasted nearly five years. I use baking soda and vinegar to cleanse my hair which works wonderfully, and my hair is in much better condition than it was when I used shampoo, which is essentially a detergent that strips your hair of the natural oils.

I almost never buy yarn unless it’s on clearance or I can find it at a thrift store. I have a good sized stash (bought on clearance or thrift store) already, so I rarely allow myself to buy yarn. It’s a relaxing hobby but I usually only knit while my husband drives us home from work (it’s dark in the morning now).

I pay my bills online or have them deducted electronically, I rarely buy or use stamps.

I don’t watch television, buy movies or even rent movies. I don’t have time for that.

I stopped getting the newspaper years ago which effectively stopped advertisement-driven “I wants”. I don’t go to “malls” just to shop.

I do find myself wanting to dress more professionally at work, and it’s hard to do when all I have are worn out jeans and stained t-shirts! Even so, I don’t go to Dillard’s and buy $150 outfits. I go to Ross Dress for Less and spend $15 to $30 each on suits. $5 to $8 on shirts. And I’ve only done that once in the past year, and with money I saved that my mother-in-law gave me for my birthday in May 2007.

Then there’s my Internet connection. For years my son and I scraped by with dial up – the cheapest one I could find – $10/month. It was EXCRUCIATING. When satellite became available at an affordable price, ($200 to start, $50/month) we didn’t even get it for another year. But finally we did, and now I would never want to go back to dial up.

I guess the main thing is to try to be content where I am now. Strive to lower our bills where we can, and don’t beat myself up because I’m not as frugal as some people are able to be.

Everyone has to find their own happy medium. I think we can do better in some areas, and I’ll be exploring those as time goes by. I have a friend whose mother passed away in the past year. My friend’s mom used to constantly complain about how broke she was, how penniless. It was interesting to hear the whining and moaning when she owned a cabin “up north” and several homes in the city. She paid for a new vehicle every few years with cash. Obviously she had some money socked away. After she passed away, her husband was able to pay cash for my friend’s condominium (my friend is legally blind so this helped her out a great deal) and he still is rolling in money.

I heard my own grandma talk this way, about being broke and penniless. But it never really affected me much until I observed my friend’s mother and her complaints about being so poor. It prompted me to make a decision that I do not want to live my life this way.

It reminds me of dieting. Some people spend their entire lives dieting. Concentrating every thought on every morsel they put into the mouth. I don’t want food to be the main focus of my life for the remainder of my days, anymore than I want money and the lack of it to be my focus. I want to pay off our debt, and I want to have a little fun along the way. I want to eat out every once in a while, and enjoy Christmas money, and birthday money, instead of socking every cent into the debt. As it turns out, when my grandma was going on and on about being broke, she actually had $40,000 in the bank. Now I know that’s not THAT much, but she also had a pension coming in every month from two retirement systems for $2000/month. Grandma was THE most frugal person I ever knew. Talk about frugal… I would love to see her electricity bill and water bills in the last few years she lived by herself. She was green before her time, that’s for sure. She would only use one bare light bulb for lighting and she stayed in one room and kept the rest of the house dark. She would keep a pail in the kitchen sink and when she washed her hands or a dish, she would let that pail fill until it was full enough to flush her toilet! Yes, she had a flushing toilet, but she chose to use her kitchen waste water to flush, thereby recycling that water. LOL. And she did track her money down to the penny. I doubt if she had $500 in bills per month. She never did have a mortgage since Grandpa build the home.

But I don’t want to live with that mentality. I don’t want to be a spendthrift and be mindless about my money, but I don’t want to live in that “I’m poor” state of mind, especially when it isn’t even the truth.

You have just finished reading Part Five of My Money Story, here are the other parts:

What’s your money story?

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2 comments to My Money Story – The Forties

  • Michelle

    I can really relate to so much of what you’ve written! Money was always an issue in my family while we were growing up. It seemed, at least with my dad, that the energy was all about trying to bring money in, and keep it from going out for “frivolous” things (many of which were not frivolous at all). We lived somewhat deprived when it came to food (my sister, brother and I actually suffered some malnutrition for a while), and all the while my parents complained about how much we all ate. Yet in reality my dad had enough money to buy a piece of property that he rented out, on top of his own business income.

    It’s such a journey dealing with the attitudes and expectations we’ve grown up with surrounding money; I really appreciate your sharing your own story. I wholeheartedly agree that it’s vital to craft a system of dealing with money that works for you, and isn’t hung up on being purist or spendthrift in its approach. Life is meant to be lived, and people’s dignity is worth so much more than money, status, or possessions.

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