Day 15

Why do you spend money?

So asks Mrs. Frugalwoods.  There are legitimate reasons (to provide food and shelter, etc) . . . . other, not-so-legitimate spending triggers such as: to impress others, boredom, or sadness.  Our culture repeatedly teaches us that buying new things will bring us happiness. And it might . . . but the rush of new will fade and we’re left feeling those same pre-purchase emotions.  Spending money is an easy way to numb our true emotions. Conversely, frugality makes life more real by encouraging us to focus only on the things that matter most. To cure the urge to spend, identify the root cause of your spending triggers and find other ways to ameliorate those emotions. Money and stuff aren’t stand-ins for human emotions. When we try to force our possessions to serve in that role, we end up sorely disappointed.

We are all aware of the basic reasons we spend money.  Food, shelter, clothing, transportation, education.  These are what might be considered to be the most basic in today’s society.  Public transportation is a joke where I live, so it is necessary to have a car.  Education is also important, as without an education, most people cannot earn enough money to support themselves, much less dependents.

Like others, we have spent money to make ourselves feel better.  There is evidence of it all over the house, let me tell you!  Going through all the stuff we have acquired makes us feel rather sick – how much money did we spend on stuff we already had or didn’t really need?

In our current lives, we really do not spend too often too frivolously.  For the most part, we don’t go out to eat, we don’t buy clothes, we don’t buy shoes, we don’t go to the movies.  We have hobbies, which are important for our individual well-being.  These cost money.  Active engagement in making things is central to who we are.  Hobbies include sewing, knitting, brewing, rocketry, painting, drawing, metal work, cooking, baking, gardening, writing, photography, and varied fiber arts,

Equipment for these hobbies requires a bit of an outlay for many of the initial tools, but if cared for, they don’t need replacing.  Other items are disposable in the sense that they become part of a final project.  Hobbies not only teach but engage.  The problem with hobbies, though, is that if you do not keep yourself organized, you may find yourself replacing things you know you have but you cannot find.  Cleaning up our house is giving ample evidence of this problem.

In addition to hobbies, we like to travel by car to different areas of the U.S.  This means planning ahead and budgeting for the vacation.  Time away helps in so many non-tangible ways – mentally, emotionally, spiritually.  While we are definite homebodies, we are also roambodies, and though we don’t go to exotic locations, we do like to see our country.

So, in the end:  we have used money to hide from problems and emotions.  We have learned not to do so, for the most part.  By cleaning up our lives financially and environmentally, we can hope for wiser choices and better value for any penny we spend.

This past year has brought increasingly good changes, and our new habits will prove to beneficial in the long run in more ways, I expect, than we can anticipate.