Monday, January 6, 2014

The Advantages of Being Economically Disinclined

Not having a lot of money is often challenging in a consumerist world.

Or even just the one where you're not filled with the overwhelming desire to buy stuff but your old car is falling apart and fixing it is really pinching your budget.

However there are some aspects of living a tight purse life that are beneficial to whom you are as a person.

Take food. Consuming food is a pretty basic necessity. Eating out often gets very expensive. Buying lots of prepared frozen dinners is still sorta costly. Sometimes you even have to wait to get the regular groceries, basic things like milk and bread and eggs, until your next pay check shows up. Thus you end up staring at the depths of your cupboard pondering what you can make with minute rice, Worcestershire sauce, and a can of mandarin oranges. Creativity and google are both extremely helpful here, but ultimately it is the circumstance of not always having the ideal ingredient set driving you to consider food in new ways and to try new things. 

You know, like people have traditionally done whenever there's an economic recession, or rationing, or time before supermarkets. 

Saying no is another good one. You learn to say it to yourself (even if those were some really cute shoes). You learn to say it to your children (even when they're being good and deserve indulgence). You might even learn to say it to other people (sometimes, at least...). And you learn to analytically consider the differences between need and want, and quantitatively look at the price per happiness ratio when considering non-necessity purchases.

And it makes the times you get to actually say yes so much more meaningful.

Then there's generosity. I can not begin to properly articulate how crucial hand-me-down clothes have been to my family at different times, and have genuinely endeavored to continue passing on the wardrobes my children have outgrown to those who would also greatly benefit from such generosity being bestowed upon them. A simple kindness initially shown to me and my children by a few families has had a permanent impact on an ever-growing web of people, and I am eagerly watching to see how far some of the original clothing items will go on.

Some pieces are already bedecking their fifth little child, and that's assuming they were purchased new by the family who gave them to me.

And my favorite, basic math. Nothing like a budget to make you try and figure out the best deal on toilet paper in your head, which, you know, would be MUCH easier if there was any slight semblance of standard roll sizing or packaging (is a triple roll really equivalent to three "normal" rolls? does double ply count for twice as much as single ply since you'd hypothetically use half as much? does this generic have the proper sturdy-to-soft ratio my derriere has come to expect? which is least likely to clog my toilet when the three year old flushes excessive quantities?), and maybe then it would not be the most stressful part of household shopping ever.

Except for maybe when I need to get toilet paper AND paper towels in the same trip.... those are the days when I finally get overwhelmed and just grab the smallest packages I can see and high tail it out of there.

So there you have it, some of the basic considerations of the budgetary conscience and how financially constraining circumstances make them into better grown up people. See also: why service jobs are good for building a morally superior society. 

1 comment:

  1. I really really really need to do better with my/our finances. We eat out too much, we buy too much, we owe too much (which we wouldn't, if we didn't do 1 & 2 on the list.)