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Finding My Happy Medium

December 18th, 2007 at 06:19 am

Lately, especially with DH's job uncertainty, I have been ruminating on the idea of what is really a happy medium (middle ground) for me financially. I think I am also more focused on it at this time of year because of all of the commercialism/consumerism that is going on with the holidays. At times I feel like I can live happily in my own little world and be frugal but then other times I want to scream and yell and just go out and buy what I want NOW, NOW, NOW! Fortunately, I do not act upon those desires and the feelings are usually only momentary, but they are frustrating. I think I find such feelings particularly frustrating because I don't see them as reflecting the real me and I see them as being brought on by too much commercial influence. For example, we have a 8 year old TV, probably about 27 inches or so, no high def, no Tivo, no frills, just basic cable to get a decent picture (really bad reception otherwise). I was in Target last week, in the electronics section, to get batteries for my camera. I could not help noticing the nice crisp, clear, sharp picture on the new TVs. Ours is fine but certain channels get a sort of line effect - not sure how to describe it but it is noticeable. Then I look at the prices - $599, $799 etc. just for the basic "smaller" (all bigger than my current" set. Forget the commercials for in home theater systems with surround sound and universal remotes (to the tune of 4K - 5k for the whole system). I don't really want or need a new TV at the moment. It is just that exposing myself to all this makes me, at least for a few hours, think that I somehow want or need a new TV. Sure, it would be nice but I would rather have the $700 sitting in an emergency fund to pay for car repairs like I needed to a few weeks ago. I see people all around buying things like this, getting their kids video systems for gifts, new cell phones (which cost all year, not just a one time purchase), new computers etc. My kids see this too and while they understand my feelings on frugality and living within your means, it is hard for them to appreciate it right now. My oldest sees her friends going on two to three trips (Cancun, Bahamas etc.) a year and wants to know why we don't go at least once. The same friends will get their license soon and their mom is giving them her old car as she recently got a new one. I know and can appreciate that they have a huge mortgage, minimal savings and no college savings but my DD just sees the "stuff" and sometimes feels that I am just being cheap. Things like this make me struggle with my mental middle ground. How much is enough, what can we really "afford" and what does that really mean anyway, etc. The more I go around and around about it mentally, the more I come to the conclusion that the happy middle ground is the one that allows me to sleep at night. For me that means working on savings goals for retirement, college, paying off mortgage etc. For others, I guess they can sleep at night with huge balloon mortgage payments hanging over their heads - I personally cannot. And to me, money/things are just not worth losing sleep over. I would rather have less but be finacially secure in what I do have, than "have it all" but owe it all to the bank.

6 Responses to “Finding My Happy Medium”

  1. monkeymama Says:

    I think the thing is you have to set priorities and you have to shop smart. The 2 hand-in-hand allows you to accumulate more stuff that you really want, with less money.

    But yeah, you just have to realize, unless you are truly truly wealthy. You can't have it all. You have to prioritize. Pick and choose. & if you prioritize well, it won't smart so much. (Well seems like you realize. More saying everyone needs to realize this).

    I always find it funny people's perceptions though when they come to our house. Yeah, we have a lot of electronic equipment. We have a lot of fancy electronic equipment. But the big stuff we mostly bought 75% off. For the peripherals we have a lot of really old stuff and hand-me-downs. We shop smart so we buy things once that last forever. That is the only way we have found to have our cake and eat it too. You're not going to find the latest trends in our house. But we may wait a year or 2 (or 10) and grab them on sale, if it is something important to us. But I am not going to buy an IPOD just because all my friends have one. I don't see the point. Not high on my priorities.

    My co-worker was just saying how insane it was she knew people with more than one computer. Or separate computers for the kids. I didn't tell her we have 5 computers. LOL. But we have plenty of hand-me-downs for the kids. They don't need the latest and greatest. Dh does for his work, though he buys on deep discount. & then we get the hand-me-downs. Which are nice enough. All our monitors are also the old clunky variety. We've never seen the point to upgrade the monitors. It's just all relative. I am sure she is thinking brand new system (monitor and everything) and we just merely keep everything and accept hand-me-downs from our techie relatives. Only upgrading the processors or the necessary parts of the computer. The difference in cost is night and day that way. We just bought a new printer a year or 2 ago and I was shocked how cheap they had gotten over the years. Our printers were ancient...

  2. Ima saver Says:

    The older you get, the more you realize you don't need anymore "stuff"

  3. luxliving Says:

    Yeah, with kiddos it is hard. Are they old enough to have their own jobs so they can earn for the things they'd like?

    Have you set down with them and gone thru the actual house budget for your family? It might be a real eye-opener.

    Good luck to you. I think sometimes too, I'd like to just chuck it all and buy everything in the world on credit like it seems so many people do. The huge McMansion, the latest 'hot' vehicle, etc., etc. But, then the reality of those soul-crushing payments weigh on my brain and I just can't do it!!

    Better that we let our wiser heads prevail, huh?

  4. luxliving Says:

    Here you go - a funny:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGi21YQFjMM&feature=related

  5. baselle Says:

    That good night's sleep that financial stability brings is worth any amount of physical crap that you can buy.

  6. mbkonef Says:

    Baselle - I definitely agree!
    Luxliving - the oldest two DD's (16 and 14) are actually very good. The oldest has a job and the 14 yo babysits and pet sits. They are slowly learning the importance of being financially responsible. The 16 yo recently told me she was glad I had not let her get a debit card with her bank account. She said if it were easier, she would definitely spend more and be sorry later! Yeah! But they are young and it is still hard for them sometimes to remember the big picture and to appreciate the long term aspect of being financially responsible. Hopefully by the time they have families of their own!

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