Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Habitual Frugality

No doubt about it, I’m a tightwad. Driving away from the bank today, it struck me that I’m pretty tight with my money most of the time.  Probably the biggest factor for this is because my parents were actually my grandparents and they lived through the Great Depression and WW2 when so many people were poor and things were rationed.  I remember my grandmother talking about during the war when such things as sugar and gas were rationed.  We didn’t waste much when I was growing up, nothing like the way things are in my house now.  My husband is also not a waster, so our kids get reprimanded when they waste something, or leave the lights on, or take too long in the shower.

I deposited a check today - deposited most of it but kept $80 to have some cash on hand. I realized it’s been right around Christmas-time since I’ve had anything but a few odd coins in my purse. This is a great way to spend less money – don’t have any on me!! DUH – why didn’t I think of this before? No cash – I can’t get anything out of a vending machine (the ones in my office building don’t take credit cards). When the kids ask for money, I can honestly tell them I don’t have any. Less impulse buying when you don’t have cash. Now I have $80….I wonder how long it will last? We will see.

Neither my husband nor I waste a lot of money on things. Is that true? Probably not…I buy alcohol (not a lot…but perhaps that’s a judgment call) and he buys a LOT of junk food and lottery tickets every week. I believe he could be some sort of shopping addict, or perhaps a hoarder in his genes. He stockpiles stuff when it goes on sale – laundry soap, toilet paper, crackers, pop, potato chips, etc. Before we were married, it was not uncommon to run out of necessities like paper towels, toilet paper, soap, bread, etc. I would go shopping when there was something I needed to buy. Since I married Jerry, I can’t recall ever running out of anything important. That’s the plus side, but I worry about his hoarding sometimes. We have had 15 boxes of cereal on the shelf at times, and up to 6 gigantic jugs of laundry detergent. Right now, I know we have at least 12 boxes of granola bars on the shelf.

I try not to let his hoarding bother me, but when I open the closet door and see all the stuff, my stomach lurches. When I was growing up, we moved often. I’m not sure why that was. My grandparents use to joke about how often they moved. Packing, unpacking, and scavenging boxes were very familiar activities. My grandmother would hand each of us a box and tell us to pack whatever toys we wanted to keep in the box- everything else was donated when we moved.  This forced us to get rid of our less favorite stuff.  By the time I permanently moved away from home, everything that was mine that I took with me fit in a small box, not much bigger than a shoe box (come to think of it, they also gave me my bedroom furniture, eventually). Compare that to Sarah, who has made many moving trips and still has a room full of stuff.

When I graduate and have a life again, one of my first goals will be to unclutter the house. I live with a bunch of hoarders! Not only that, I have plenty of my own stuff to go through and discard/donate. I look forward to having time to get things back into some kind of reasonable order. We’ve lived in our current house 15 years – it’s the longest I’ve ever lived in one place. I take a look around and think we need to move somewhere else (and leave all this stuff behind).

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