Tuesday, August 24, 2010
I pride myself on being a bargain hunter extraordinaire. One of my best friends from high school once told a chaperon on a mall trip that if she couldn't find me the best place to look was near the clearance racks. It was, and still is, completely true.
But I'm struggling right now with trying to figure out where blatant consumerism for the sake of consumerism starts and good, honest bargain hunting ends. I went to The Gap last Sunday for a free pair of pants- an incredible deal because I LOVE Gap's pants and I truly don't know how I got chosen to receive such a valuable coupon. While I was there, I found out that my weight loss efforts have had huge effects, I've dropped 2 pants sizes even though my overall weight loss is only 20 lbs, and decided to go ahead and buy myself some jeans too, since they were on sale and another coupon I had essentially made them buy one get one free. Throw in a dress and another pair of clearance jeans and I walked out of there with a bag full of great clothes for just over $100. Not bad right?
Right. But did I need any of it? Probably not. My clothing collection already takes up nearly 2/3 of our walk in closet, my husband's stuff shoved to the side and underneath my ever expanding racks.
Then there are the sites like Groupon, Living Social and SavvyAvenue. I buy things from these sites that I wouldn't otherwise make room in my budget for because they are cheap. None of what I've bought is "bad" it's just that I know that these are items that I could live without. But because it's literally a click of the mouse, it's easier to buy than reason with myself.
I'm also a "member" of RueLaLa (if you're not and want to be, email me, I'll send you the invite.) They are essentially a clearing house for factory direct clearances. They carry everything from furniture to clothing to cookware. Last week they hosted KitchenAid and this week they have Analon. I've wanted new cookware for some time now, so I'm very tempted to shell out the $200 and get some of this high quality stuff and a deep discount.
The problem that I'm struggling with is that, yes, I wantnew cookware, and an argument could be made that I have a few pots and pans that need replacing. But the reality is, I have a full set of cookware that works just fine. It's not perfect, but it works.
Financially right now, we don't have a whole lot left over. But, we have a whole lot that most people don't- 2 iPhones, 3 computers (in a house with 2 adults and 2 toddlers) etc. etc. etc. We have more than we need, but because I am constantly seeing other things that I want, I feel like I'm depriving myself when I don't hit the "checkout" button on my online cart.
We are living nearly debt free right now- we have 1 car note (we paid off my car last week!) and our mortgage. Our monthly expenses are relatively high because of where were have chosen to live, but we handle them. We don't have much in savings, but we don't carry credit card debt. I see all of our friends going on vacations and buying (it seems) whatever they want whenever they want and I can't help but be jealous. Maybe they are drowning in mountains of credit card debt, I don't know, but sometimes I wish I could just have that carefree attitude when it comes to money. But I also know I want to be secure and responsible.
I'd love some suggestions for how you handle the balance between giving yourself what you want and being content with what you have. I've heard of people that have gone an entire year without buying anything new. Or only bought goods from local vendors at the source of production. I'm not ready to try for a year, but a month maybe? I don't know if I could do it. Tell me what you think.
*Photo from here