Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Joys and Threshholds of Tightwad Happiness - What are yours?

In my free time I sometimes grab a calculator and a Diet Coke, sit down and determine what each day's electric costs and devise strategies to reduce this. Or I might grab a slip of paper to compare the costs of a bowl of oatmeal at home verses a bagel out. I truly enjoy this sort of thing, i.e. what are the real costs of living. And no, I didn't have many dates in high school.;-)

My cell phone finally perished in a drowning accident (I had snuck ice and a diet coke into the movies in my purse and the ice melted all over my forgotten phone) much for cost savings. When I brought it to the repair guy, he sort of snorted at the state it was in (it had long since had several key pads cracked, the antennae cap gone for over a year, and one mysterious wire had escaped and just hung around outside the phone) and said, "This phone will go down in our records as the saddest phone ever."

Similarly, when I whip out my fantastic bargain digital camera (only $5 at a garage sale), I get some strange looks. It is a bit big, clunky and old fashioned looking, and the viewfinder doesn't work, but hey, how hard is it to just look through the peephole?

And I felt the sheer tightwad joy of making that phone last as long as possible and of knowing my camera worked just fine at only a tenth the cost of a new one. So in many areas, I think tight wadding is just plain fun!

But not everyone gets this and I've been chastised at times, to the effect "get a life", though usually more politely stated as "Life is short; don't waste it penny pinching."

And this is where I think frugality gets a bad wrap. A true "miser" isn't feeling joy at scoring that cashmere Banana Republic sweater at Goodwill for $4; he's just loathe to part with the $4 at all.

Once the penny pinching or accumulation of wealth REDUCES the quality of life, maybe it is time to lighten up. We do in fact have a limited time on this beautiful planet and as the country western song puts it, "You never see a hearse pulling a U-haul van."

There are certain thresholds, and they differ for each person. We bought five wooded acres behind our house not because it was a good investment, it's not, but as a garden fanatic, the unending opportunities all that space offers has brought me pure joy. When I take my dog and kids on the walking paths, especially after a fresh snow and feel I'm in my own private state park, that is worth the exchange of life energy (a term from the book "Your Money or Your Life" i.e. how many hours of your life you're going to give to paid employment for a purchase.)

And my blond highlights are not cheap, but allow my inner California surfer girl to express herself through the long Wisconsin winters.;-)

My collection of English garden books is a bit excessive, but how I love to curl up with those authors and hear their thoughts each night, only wishing those gorgeous British accents accompanied the printed word.

So I guess it is all about balance. Life IS short, but how fun to check off another milestone in your growing net worth.;-)

So what are YOUR tightwad joys and thresholds?

1 comment:

  1. I like to think of myself as an 'Economizer'!

    I don't wash out too many baggies or save much tinfoil, but do watch carefully what I buy and try very hard not to be wasteful.

    ~L.L.Frugalis, Totally Debt-FREE!

    "Economy is a poor man's revenue; extravagance, a rich man's ruin." ~~??, frontspiece, The American Frugal Housewife, by Lydia Maria Child, Harper & Row, 1836 edition (dedicated to those who are not ashamed of economy).