Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"Cheapness" vs. "Wastelessness"

Many a well-meaning friend has teased me about being "cheap". I've heard it all. A few say it with more respect in their voices than others, but in general, the spending habits of our family have been a source of amusement for years. I play along and smile and don't apologize for any of it, of course.

Except that I completely disagree with them. I am not "cheap" at all, and feel that this word has a dangerous connotation that will keep many of us away from wise spending habits in an effort to simply avoid that label.

I am simply unwasteful with my money. There's an important difference.

Cheapness affects others in a negative way. Cheap people allow others to pick up the tab, produce inferior goods, and don't share. Cheap people also cheat themselves of true quality when it presents itself.

I never mind paying top dollar for something when it is worth it. And sometimes, it is. Friends were flabergasted when we paid $400 for the perfect jogging stroller, went on a Disney cruise, and took the family skiing in Aspen. These things were important to us, we had the money for them, and there was no leaner substitute that would suffice. These purchases were not a waste.

I can also share. In fact, one of the main reasons that I refuse to waste money is that if I do, then I can't give as much away to the many worthy causes so desperate for our help nowadays. I still need to give more than I do, so I need to find more ways to cut waste.

The list of things that I will not spend money on is too long for one blog- that list will keep me going for years here.

But here's the imporant thing: I am not depriving myself - or my family or friends - of anything by not spending on these things. Quite the opposite- I am saving myself the aggravation, emptiness, and worry that comes from using up resources on things that are just not worth it.

And what's a complete waste for me may be a justifiable necessity or worthy splurge for you, and vice versa.

Take restaurants, in my case. You may love taking your kids out, but it is not a "treat" for me to take my kids to a restaurant- they're too loud (my kids, that is). My husband and I don't enjoy hiring a sitter to go out to a restaurant by ourselves, either, because we know if we just waited an extra hour to eat, our kids can be asleep and we can enjoy a nice date without spending an extra dime. If we want to go nuts, we order takeout.

It's all in the attitude.

We as a society need to stop feeling deprived if we don't have the same "fat" in our budget as our neighbors around us- neighbors who are very likely unable to sleep at night due to the size of their credit card balances and second mortgages.

And for those of us slashing our budgets, voluntarily or otherwise, in order to tackle those things keeping us awake at night, we need to see our new lifestyle for what it is- simply leaner and less wasteful, not "less" of anything of value.

Did anyone who ever lost weight ever see it as a "loss"?

-The Wasteless Mom

50 comments:

yabbadabbadoo said...

I enjoyed reading this.... might have to argue on the restaurant thing. We took our kids to Mission Burrito tonight where they have a playground. We both enjoyed a beer, a very inexpensive dinner but the BEST part was coming home to clean kitchen! But you make some very valid points and I look forward to more entries.

Barbara Mosley said...

Wonderful, wonderful. I will use you to help me stay on task and unwasteful. I agree with you on the difference in cheap and unwasteful. I agree so much that, from now on, I will not say that I am cheap when I am making wise money decisions. Thanks for that wake up call to my self-esteem. May I share your blog address with Lori? I think she may like reading what you have to say.

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