Thursday, April 2, 2009

Think Twice Before Buying Nice Things

This morning, my 4-year old daughter proudly showed me her latest masterpiece…drawn with the stash of Sharpies I thought I’d hidden well in my drawer. Needless to say, both the paper and the kitchen counters were covered. Almost all of it has come off.

Instead of flying off the handle, all I thought was, “Thank God we hadn’t yet gotten around to installing granite…” And the more I think of it, we probably never will.

I’ve had similar incidents, and subsequent thought patterns, with all of my children and most of the furniture throughout my home. The violence of my reaction is in direct proportion to how nice the ruined item is, of course, which brings me to the inevitable question, “What’s the point in having something nice?”

If the point is because you actually enjoy something more the nicer it is, then fine. But I find that often I’ve felt compelled to upgrade something I own because I’m worried what other people will think, not because I actually get more enjoyment out of it.

The kitchen counters being the first example. Honestly, what do granite countertops DO over formica? Yet, every granite purchase comes with extensive instructions on how to CARE for your new countertops. I never, ever CARE for, or about, my formica.

The second huge example in my home is our living room couch. I love it, but it’s old. I mean really old. My baby pictures were taken on it. But every time I think about replacing it, another kid spills a drink on old reliable, and I nonchalantly brush the stain off with my hand. Should I really trade that peace of mind for the admiration of my houseguests? Which couch would enhance my life more? I already know the answer.

Kid’s clothes serve as yet another example. Yes, my children look adorable in their smocked, monogrammed, matching ensembles (all one of them), but whenever they wear them, none of us has any fun. The kids can’t run, climb, or take a bite of food without my blood pressure and voice going up. If they’re in their usual second-hand treasures, however, the world is their mud pile. I couldn’t care less.

Money is so limited nowadays; we need to be sure that when we do splurge on something nice, it is something that truly brings us joy, not stress and extra work. The next time you think about acquiring a new possession, make sure it’s not going to possess you instead.



Linda from Georgia said...

Great thoughts. Your mom introduced me to Clorox spray cleaner. Every mom should have a bottle. It is the only thing that instantly removes beet juice from formica. We are also electing not to install granite. I figure in a few years something else will be considered top grade -- I might just get that. (ha ha) A friend of mine wears the cutest clothes. Found out she got them ALL at thrift stores. Last week she had on $1 jean cullottes that were adorable. I am searching Frugal Mom type blogs to find out how others are saving. I am amazed at the ingenuity of modern women. I've been thinking about teaming up with the girls and splitting some Sam's items that are great bargains but too much for timely use. We bought rice at large volumes and divided it when I co-oped. Just makes sense buying in 50 pound lots. That is not something I've run across yet, but we did it years and years ago. You just need baggies and a scale.

Liz said...

Wise words, Jennifer! I am always tempted to buy nice things, but truly when you have young children and pets who do not share your appreciation of nice things, what is the point? Truth is, most of those nice things are really for others and only add stress and expense to my life.
Keep the wasteless ideas coming!

TheWastelessMom said...

Linda, I've started making my own cleaner now out of organic products. Try this recipe: 2 cups water, 1/2 cup distilled vinegar, 1 tsp. castille soap, and 3/4 cup hydrogen peroxide. I use this for almost everything now (except windows)