Saturday, April 2, 2011

Financial Frugality - It's a Balancing Act

"Seriously?  Do you need that many apples?"
"You don't need a haircut - you just had one last summer!"
"I bought you a new Easter/Confirmation dress, can't you wear that for your graduation?"
"We just bought you some t-shirts at Christmas time, what happened to those?"
"No - you don't need a souvenir"

Do any of these sound familiar?  They are all things I've said to my family in the last week or so.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in not spending money that 'no' is our first go-to word.  I need to remember that every once in a while it's ok to say yes because saying no doesn't send the message of financially frugality but can sometimes be construed as we don't care.

"I bought you a new Easter/Confirmation dress, can't you wear that for your graduation?"
My daughter has a big year this spring.  She's getting confirmed and graduating from 8th grade.  Do you remember your 8th grade graduation?  I do - my mom bought me a special dress and I felt absolutely beautiful in it.  I forgot how special I felt until my daughter started crying that I didn't understand her at all and getting a new dress was really important to her.  I think it's important to examine if you are saying no because you truly can't afford it (in that case it's important to stick to your guns or find a creative solution) or if it's because you don't want to spend the money.  For me it's because I didn't want to spend the money.  Is that what I want my daughter to remember about her8th grade graduation?  It's not - we'll be going out and buying her a new dress, different from her confirmation dress.

"You don't need a haircut - you just had one last summer!"

This is another one with my daughter.  She has long straight hair so she doesn't really need regular haircuts (I have shorter hair and I'm terrible about getting regular cuts!).  She's been complaining about split ends and wanted a hair cut, which for some reason I've kept putting off.  Part of this reason was it meant spending money and part of this was time.  I promised her last night to take her to Cost Cutters (won't be happening again) for a hair cut and then decided to surprise her with a manicure and pedicure (her pedicure only consisted of toe painting - I got the works =:)  The evening really made her feel special, I don't always do a good job of letting her know how important she is.  A night out like that every so often is well worth the money.
"Seriously? Do you need that many apples?"

In my quest to keep our grocery bill as low as I can (I budget $200/week) I'm constantly nagging my husband about what he puts in the cart.  While saving money and being fiscally responsible is important, relationships can't be sacrifice for it.  My husband has shared with me that when I nag him like that I make him feel  bad.  I tend to nag more when I'm concerned that we're going off budget for the week (i.e. unexpected expenses have cropped up)  When I get in my 'nagging' moods I'm missing opportuntities to share quality time with my husband and I'm potentially damaging our relationship.  What I have found to be a better way to approach is if I share my concerns with my husband so that he can be part of the solution instead of feeling hostile towards him for spending money and then expecting me to 'come up with it'.  If he doesn't know that I'm stressed about unexpected expenditures (new dance shoes, $100 school field trips) he just thinks I'm being a crab.
I'm not advocating spending more money than you can afford and I'm not advocating saying yes all the time.  For me personally I need to examine more why I'm saying no and what affect my answer is having on my loved ones.  One more thing to add to my 'self-improvement' list!

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