This is a guest post from Sheryl in Ontario, who is 40 years old with a grown daughter, and is trying to rebuild her retirement dream just 20 years too late for early retirement.
I know in some ways we frugalites are very stead fast on what we will and won’t spend money on, but I also have to recognize a certain “go with the flow” mentality that we employ.
Most frugal people I know don’t plan their meals a week in advance and then shop for what they want to eat, but rather buy whats on sale, and create meals out of what is on hand. We might think a day or two ahead of time to allow something to thaw, or plan to have leftovers on one day but not on another, but the idea of buying chicken breasts at full price, just because we feel like eating chicken breasts on a certain day seems wasteful (at least to me).
I started thinking about this as I am finally getting around to painting my home. Through different points programs, I’ve been able to get some gift cards, and I split them up between groceries, gas and home improvement stores. I ended up with about a $320 budget for home stuff. Besides paint, I’m also hoping to replace some faucets (mine are leaking and the finish is flaking off) and light fixtures (1980’s strip lights that require special bulbs, besides being ugly). My first paint purchase was with one store that I had $120 for, I purchased 4 gallon pails on sale (3 colors) for my bedroom and wherever else it will spread to. I picked the colors to match the curtains and bedding. That leaves $200 for another store.
I was at the other store the other night and noticed they were selling off a discontinued paint for $26 per gallon, around here that quality of paint sells for $45. I started collecting paint chips to help me decide what colors to choose. My living room has a white couch, cream book cases with some black or dark wood furniture, so a creative challenged person like me had no idea what to put on the walls. And then I saw the “oops” bin. There were three 5 gallon pails, each in a different color, one I didn’t like at all, the other 2 had potential. I got samples and took them home to see how the colors would look in my home. The color my boyfriend liked looked better with the light in my room, so I’m going with that one. The pail of paint is costing me $29, and I will have more than enough paint to do the area. If I had been stuck on having a certain color before I went to the store, it would have easily cost me $100 more, with no guarantee I’d be any happier, with the bonus of leaving more money available for faucets or lights (which ever I find first). I’m borrowing the tools to do the work, so am keeping the costs down there as well.
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting older and have already done the “my home must look like this“, or whether I enjoy the challenge of making the best life I can out of the available resources, but I seem to spend considerably less money on things than most people I know. Granted, my stuff isn’t customized and tailor made, but who’s to know if I chose a color because it was cheap, or threw together a meal from what I had on hand, got my shirt off the clearance rack, or that my home theater system was what ever came on sale that fulfilled the requirements?
How do you live? Do you insist things be the same as the picture in your mind of what you want, or do you see what’s available and take advantage of what will work?