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.
Finding My Happy Medium
December 18th, 2007 at 06:19 am