Monday, November 9, 2009

Save to Splurge

I've never been good with money.  Ok, I take that back.  I'm great at spending money, just not so great at budgeting it.  When I was growing up, my parents gave me a credit card in my name for "emergencies only."  This meant gas, physical injuries, fire hazards, lol, you know the usual emergencies.  But somewhere along the line, I got very skilled at framing dinners at Chili's or stops at Nordstroms as "emergencies."  Don't get me wrong, I never had free reign with the credit card; my parents always saw what I bought and how much it was.  But since the damage usually wasn't too terribly awful, and I had a part time job through most of high school, my parents usually let it go.  Sometimes, I might get a stern "Allison, we're not made of money," but nothing too bad.  I lik to think now that I was really artful in my "emergency only" spending, but my parents are incredibly smart; I'm sure I didn't fool them.

However, after a few semesters away at college, this whole "credit card" thing disappeared.  Perhaps it was the fact that I couldn't be near my parents to charm them after "emergency spending" or perhaps it was the tuition money my scholarship didn't cover.  Regardless, the whole "emergency only rule" became for real.  I was still incredibly blessed to have my parents financial support, but I got a certain amount of money each month and that was it.  (I was also working part time through college and on scholarship, so those of you that don't know me really well, I promise I'm not a spoiled brat.  Spoiled probably, bratty no.  I've always recognized and appreciated my parents sacrifice for me to have the things I wanted.)  Anyway, (now that I've cleared that up and hope I'm not being judged too harshly), it was at this point that I learned to budget.   Or so I thought.  In August 2006, I started graduate school and really started to understand the value of money.  I learned the whole, "You mean I work for that long, and I only make that much?!  You mean, my need to keep every light in the house on costs that much?!"  Definitely an eye opening experience.  Getting married this summer has taken this lesson even further as I'm now realizing the hidden costs of being an "independent grown up."  Health insurance, dental insurance, car insurance, ewwww.  I don't want to spend money on that.  I'd rather have a handbag!

So the past few months have really involved "buckling down" financially in my book.  Those awful grown up things don't just pay for themselves.  It's been about less going out to eat with friends, fewer skinny vanilla lattes from Starbucks, and a lot less shopping.  (I realize I still lead a very blessed and privileged life, and that for many people, this is not buckling down.  I do not take our blessings for granted.)  For the most part, Matt and I have done pretty well.  We've started sharing meals and cutting back on alcohol at restaurants, using coupons at Wal-Mart, inviting friends over and going out less.  I also paid off my entire credit card!  The biggest change though in my spending has truly been my clothes habit.  In fact, in the past two weeks, I've passed up 3 trips to the outlet mall, a stop at Neimans Last call, and the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.  These are big steps for me. Even among all this saving, Matt and I have also made a point to take on some stuff for extra money.  We ran some marriage classes, I picked up a group at a middle school, and we just tucked that money away agreeing that our we'd need a respite from financially responsible ways at some point.  Well, that day came today.

Matt has been itching to get a new tv lately, and I won't lie, watching college football the past couple of month has gotten me on board.  I mean, I'm not an electronic guru, but sure, I'd like to see Whitney Port and the girls of The City look a little more life sized.  I wouldn't mind seeing the spices on Top Chef a little clearer or the pointed toes on So You Think You Can Dance a little sharper.  So today, we gave in and used up some of our "we're going to need to splurge later" money that we'd set aside.  We brought an awesome, new, flat screen tv.  I couldn't tell you a thing about the electronic quality of the tv or how many mega-giga-zixels it has, but I can say that whoa, it's awesome.  OU watch parties and movie nights just got a whole lot better.  So while I'm not throwing all caution to the wind or reverting back to my "emergency only spending" ways, I am realizing that a splurge is worth it once in a while.  Especially if you plan for the splurge.  Fewer lattes, less Banana Republic, and more dinners at home are certainly worth it in the end.  So whether it's a night out for ice cream, a family vacation, a fabulous new pair of boots, or a new TV, buckle down a little so you can splurge when you're ready. Staring at my new tv, I'd say it's definitely worth it.


Carrie said...

I am totally on board with the "save to splurge" philosophy. I rarely buy clothes, and when I do I love to find great deals at Forever 21, H&M, etc. But every once it a while I will splurge on something and I never feel guilty about it!

I bet you will love your new t.v.!!

Stephanie said...

I totally hear ya! My motto is: Spend as little as you can on the things that don't really matter so you can have more money for the things that do matter. And I'd say a sweet TV certainly matters. ;-) We got ours in January and will never go back!

Taylor-made Wife said...

When I was in college, our bookstore had clothes and makeup and lots of non-class related items. I consistantly used my school/emergency credit card on that type of stuff- assuming my parents would think I was buying stuff I "needed" for school- Obviously, I was stupid, and only made it through my freshman year before I was found out.

We love our TV- its worth the money to me.