Hey Big Spender, Spend a Little Time Reading This

I take pride in not being a hypocrite.  Usually.  But there is one aspect of my life where I sometimes demonstrate a split personality.  Spending money.

Overall, I would describe myself as cheap thrifty.  I’m generally not a big spender.  I’m certainly not a recreational shopper.  But conversely there are certain items where price is (almost) no object.

Like shoes.  I have bad feet so I wear expensive shoes.  To me, this is a necessity; it isn’t about fashion.  And I really don’t have all that many pairs lining my closet.  But the ones I wear every day, or to exercise, cost a pretty penny.

And fruit.  Not that I don’t try to buy what is on sale, but if I want fresh fruit, I am willing to pay for it.  Usually.  And while I try to buy our meat when it is on sale or at Costco, I don’t go meatless to save money.

I am also split when it comes to generics.  My kids and I have been trying to convince my husband for years that some generics are just not as good as the real thing name brand.  But, that said, in many items, food and otherwise, I have no problem using a tried and true generic or store brand.  Ketchup – no.  Tissues – no.  Frozen or canned veggies – yes.  Graham crackers – no, no, no.  And the list goes on.

But even where I splurge I am thrifty.  I am a big comparison shopper for example.  And after many years of hearing it said over and over, I have finally overcome my discomfort and dipped my toes into the “everything is negotiable” waters.  Not for all purchases, mind you.  Just for the big ticket items and things like travel.  Every little $10 knocked off a hotel room counts!  And for one trip, I kept checking rental car rates and eventually canceled and rebooked with the same company as the only way I could drop my price almost 50%!

I am very cheap when it comes to entertainment:  we rarely go out to the movie theater or even rent DVDs, instead reserving them from the library.  But then again, I splurged on a Tivo.  Hmm.  And I splurge on magazines, but I save by subscribing.  And I don’t buy books but save by again either getting them from the library or reading the many that my mom hands down to me.  And we don’t go out to dinner very often anymore.  But once a month or so we join friends for a restaurant meal where we hardly look at the prices.

So how does this relate to healthy living.  It doesn’t, really.  Except when I think about how I feel about spending in that area of my life.  Like a gym membership.  Right now I don’t have one, but when it gets too cold to ride my bike outside, I will once again prepay for six months worth of exercise classes, a bit of a splurge, but cheaper than paying as I go.  And fortunately my gym of choice happens to be the least expensive one in town!  Years ago I splurged for several sessions with a trainer, to get a jump start and learn about proper form.  And when our treadmill broke this year I encouraged my husband to buy himself a new one.  To me, that was well worth the extravagance.  But most of my workout clothes are old and worn, and most were purchased at discount stores.  I tend to only buy new ones when I have a trip to the spa planned – and then I might treat myself and loosen the purse strings a bit.  (And in case you missed my spa posts a few months back, that trip is a tremendous luxury that I don’t actually pay for myself!)

As for clothes, because what yo-yo dieter has not thought about the money spent on clothes, I am downright cheap!  I only shop for new things when I have too, which typically means some event coming up and there is nothing in my closet that will work (or that will work AND fit).  And I don’t like to spend a lot on what I do buy.  Maybe partly because in my mind I am often buying a size that I hope won’t fit me in the future.  But I can say that someday when I have maintained my goal weight for a reasonable amount of time, and am clearly off the roller-coaster, I am going to splurge on some fabulous clothes, starting with a pair of designer jeans.  Maybe.  Or maybe my inner stinginess will kick in and I just won’t be able to overcome years of frugality.  Time will tell.

Okay, reading this back, I think I would have to say I am selectively thrifty:)  What about you?  Big spender?  Tightwad?  Split spending personality like me?  What are your splurges?  Where do you save?  Penny for your thoughts!

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57 responses to “Hey Big Spender, Spend a Little Time Reading This

  1. Others might call me cheap because opinions are generally based on what they see through their eyes – I call it making choices. When I retired at age 48 (7 years ago), it was an experiment at first because we did not want our chosen (already very simple)lifestyle to change. Because we’d been thrifty all along, it didn’t. But we decided early in our marriage what was important to us and what wasn’t. Travel is the top priority so it gets the most attention and I spend huge amounts of time planning six week trips that cost less than most spend for their 1-2 week trips to the beach. When at home, we rarely eat out or spend money on entertainment of any sort. The things we enjoy doing are free. I am NOT a shopper, so those things hold little temptation for me to spend. But any way you look at it, travel is still expensive, so I have to be very thrifty and/or cheap to make that work.

    My splurges are fresh flowers (every week) and massages (at least once a month)!!

    BTW – I broke down and bought (splurge???) “Women, Food and God” yesterday. Still a long way down on library hold list and didn’t want to wait any longer!! But I did have a 40% off coupon (cheap??).

    • Karen

      Can’t wait to hear what you think of the book. I have to admit that we did not travel much for many years, other than to see family. That was part of my cheapness. A few years ago I had a big mommy moment of realization that my son would soon be leaving home and we had better build some family travel memories! But I when I plan my next trip I will check in with you for tips first!

  2. I definitely see your point. For me, certain things (purchases) require only the best which often means the most expensive. Anything that is typically expensive in and of itself probably means that I want only the best and will pay well for it. Such as large ticket items like a lawn tractor, a TV, computer, etc. To me, these kinds of things are only enjoyable if they’re the best. However, when it comes to simple things like food at the grocery store, I will look for things on sale, or compare prices and get the 1.29 jar of this brand instead of the 1.79 jar of that brand. Yes, sounds wierd but that’s me. In other words, I’m frugal when it comes to the low cost items, but I’m willing to splurge on the big ticket items.

    • Karen

      But I see that another way to look at this is you splurge on the “manly” items:) Our yard is too small for a tractor but aren’t a big screen TV and computers for every member of the household necessities? What about cars? That’s a big ticket item. Ours are 10 and 8 years old but were pretty nice when we got them:)

  3. I’m like that. Ususally what it boils down to is that I have no problem spending money on others but am cautious spending it on myself. I dislike buy ussed or refurbished electronics., I’d rather do without it. It’s weird. I feel like it’s how we were raised, as I am the way my parents are and Hubs is like his. However, I must say, generic Cheerios are TERRIBLE!

    • Karen

      There used to be the most amazingly tasty generic cereal that came in a bag and was a big favorite of Weight Watchers who counted points. Fiber flakes with dried strawberries. Yummy. I won’t do that with electronics either. Or cars, despite it being a great way to save money. But we drive ours for a lotta years.

  4. Definitely a split. I splurge on books. I’m a book person and I just want to have them. I re-read a lot, though, so maybe this helps. We’re thrifty on cars–bargain for them and then keep them until they start falling apart (12-14 years). I’m fairly thrifty on food–Costco shopping and bulk buys of sale things, but will splurge on fresh fruit and veggies. I get the big value pack meats and repackage and freeze them for later use. We hardly ever go out any more and that’s a big save.

    • Karen

      I cannot re-read any book – even if I don’t remember the storyline! My 20 year old loves to buy books and gets them online. He reads them over and over. He had his first paying job this summer and just splurged on a Kindle.

  5. NOPE not cheap here! My hubby wishes I was but I look at it this way; “you can’t take it with you so enjoy it while you have it and can.” I love thrift stores for clothes. But I will spend a lot on entertainment. I think it is important for my well being and my relationship with my family. If we don’t have it WE DON’T do it!

    • Karen

      Funny though that you like thrift stores for your clothes. I get a little heeby jeeby about those, I have to admit. But I do love hand-me-downs from someone I know. Like my mom. And I think investing in your family relationship is a great way to spend money:)

  6. I will spend on books, but when I am in a shopping mood (I use it as therapy instead of food), I go to the library and “shop.” I feel like I am spending money, just buying with my card. I can walk out with bags of books and not think twice about it. I just don’t like the returning part. I love my personal library and I am always looking for a bargain on books.

    • Karen

      What a great idea! I find the racks at the library overwhelming. I go to the bookstore to see what is new and then just reserve it from the library. My son is a big book buyer, which I guess you have to admire in a 20 year old:)

  7. Most of my thriftiness comes from lack of money. When we do have a few dollars to spend (tax refund time) we normally spend it on a electronic gizmo. (itouch, new tv, etc).

    I can’t spend 50$+ on jeans. Even if stepmom is buying them for me. 25$ max. I would rather have several pairs than 1 nicer pair. Although I keep telling myself I am buying clothes at JJill whn I maintain at goal for a bit. 🙂 I doubt I will do it.

    We have limited meals out to 2 a month. One a breakfast and the other lunch or dinner. My stepmom takes me a few more times after work but I don’t pay. Groceries are a combo of sale and generic. Although I cook a lot from scratch so that stuff rarely goes on sale.

    Personal products are always sales/coupons. House decorations are thrift stores. Books are mainly second hand stores or library or if I must have right away, Walmart. I will splurge on craft shows if something catches my eyes. I also enjoy a nice purse. (I have a limit, no way would I spend more than 75!).

    Furniture is almost ALWAYS used. I have so few brand new things. I splurge on cell phone service and cable/Internet. We splurge on sports fees but save on entertainment. Priorities, lol.

    • Karen

      I only buy at JJill when stuff is on sale. Or I have a coupon. I clip coupons but don’t always remember to bring them to the store. And I have not bought a purse in years thanks to my mom’s cast offs. But once upon a time I did splurge on those – I mean we do carry them every day, right?

  8. I used to spend money for a personal trainer every week, and I loved it! But now the prices have gone up, and I just can’t bring myself to spend the money anymore. But I am like you, I save on some things and spend big on others!!!

    • Karen

      Way back when I hired the trainer I did it with a girlfriend; tandem sessions were cheaper and more fun. If I won the lottery, that is one thing I would spend money on!

  9. I’m a believer in voluntary simplicity. It feels more harmonious to me to practice it. I feel I contribute more to the world that way.

  10. I am pretty thrifty but I like good quality clothes, shoes and such but I like a bargain. I price shop, compare, do my homework and get what I want at the best price I can.

  11. I used to shop a lot, but at places like Target and Pier One. And then I realized I was buying a lot of things I didn’t need and I had way too much stuff. (Kind of like eating when I wasn’t hungry and waking up one day to realize I was 100 pounds overweight.) I’m working through purging all my stuff the same way I got rid of my weight–a little at a time.

    When I gave away my larger clothes (over 90 pairs of pants and shorts), I vowed never to have that many clothes again. My goal is to have half of one side of my closet for winter clothes and half of the other for summer clothes. I love thrift stores and garage sales for finding “label” clothes, otherwise JCPenney and Kohl’s are where you’ll find me if I need something to wear.

    Best indulgences EVER: personal training sessions and hiring someone to strip 2 layers of wallpaper in my bathrooms and foyer. It took them 3 days to do what would have taken me 3 full weekends.

    • Karen

      I remember you posting about your garage sale finds:) My husband is one who subscribes to the belief you shouldn’t pay someone to do something you can do yourself. But every once in a while he lets me hire someone. Like to paint surfaces that require scaffolding to reach.

  12. Tightwad. Except when life demands convenience. Lately with Chickadee, that seems like everything. 🙂

  13. I’m definitely a split personality like you. As much as I try to shop at our discount grocer, I won’t budge on some store brands (ketchup being one of them!). I’ll also spend more money on fresh fresh at the fishmonger b/c it’s worth it! Last but not least, I give my husband a hard time about his latte habit. But do I want to give up an occasional massage to heal my aches and pains? NO WAY!

    • Karen

      There is no such thing as fresh fish in Kansas:( The only kind my boys will eat is salmon and we buy it at Costco. Still pretty pricey though.

  14. I outgrew my spending days when we moved from the Big City to Arizona, specifically for the environment and for a slower pace of life. My BMW turned into a 4-wheel drive truck for flash floods and hauling dogs; my dressy clothes were only useful for trips back to the Big City (and they don’t fit any more); my shoe fetish still haunts me, but I can’t justify buying any more when our life style is so, um, laid back; and lastly, I still love clothes, but rapidly changing sizes means wearing baggy stuff until I’m forced to buy something to keep me from looking like a “bag lady.”

    I/we splurge on vacations and family members while quickly trying to pay off the house in the next 5 years so both of us can retire, if we choose.

  15. Jen

    I’m definitely of the frugal sort, but I do find that it goes in cycles. There are times when spending the money is important–these times are different for everyone.

    I will say that during the times in my life when I am overeating, I am usually overspending. But not always.

    Thanks Karen for your great posts — and all of the comments! Saying that I appreciate them doesn’t seem enough–but I really do!:)

    • Karen

      You are welcome. I seem to remember you posting something a while back that made me think twice about if you wanted comments or not.

      • Jen

        I know I commented on comments:), and I do still want them because they are about communicating with each other–which is a good thing. If something I write touches you or connects with you, I’d love to hear your thoughts and perhaps talk more. I was just trying to focus my blog use, and express how I sometimes use the comments to validate what I am saying–something I DON’T want to do. I want to blog first for myself to be me–not because I want validation. I was processing. Not sure if I’m making sense. Anyway, thank you! And I enjoy reading your posts.

  16. Im on the exact same page as you- and my “goal prize” is a pair of designer jeans… I still plan to buy them when the time comes- If buying a 200.00 pair of jeans isn’t motivation to stay that size I don’t know what will be!!! LOL- Although I am sure I will look online after I find the ones I want from the store and find them at a better price and buy there ;0)

    • Karen

      Now see I would not buy mine online because it seems to me that every darn pair of jeans fits differently! I wonder how long I have to maintain before I will feel like I can justify that splurge.

  17. We splurge on going out to movies. We love the atmosphere of a movie theater. We see a lot of movies, especially independents and some foreign. But, although we go to the movies a lot (remember long winters in MN) we often catch the matinee where the price is not as spendy.

    I do not skimp on food. I buy the best foods from a locally owned store that I know charges more. But, since I eat many more fruits and veggies and the taste is way better, it is worth it.

    I also buy only good and well fitting shoes. I have a few pairs of my favorite Danskos, but other than that, I am not a show horse.

    I also splurged on my bed and bedding. A super great mattress is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves. I bought all the bedding a few years ago for our new bed and it was not cheap. But, I sleep soundly and cozy in it. Feels so great, that luxurious bedding against your skin.

    • Karen

      I want to try Danskos! They are actually less money than the brand I usually buy, but too much to risk them not feeling good on my darn feet. Maybe this year.

  18. I do love to buy books, but pick and choose which I get from the library and which I buy with a discount or coupon. I love shoes and will spend on them more freely than on clothes because my size doesn’t change so frequently. I agree on the work out clothes – they are the cheap stuff and I wear them until they are embarrassingly baggy and worn!

    When my size is stable (and lower) – I will buy better, classic clothes and wear them for years, I hope!

    My main splurge is on good, fresh food. We don’t eat out too often, but I am a good cook and I shop in multiple places to get good ingredients. We used to drink good wine pretty freqently, but have let that go for budget reasons (and for my diet, too.)

  19. I don’t think I’d call it a split personality. I’d call it using your resources wisely. Personally I cut back on some things so I CAN splurge on others. I do try to look for the best prices on things, but sometimes it is what it is and I want it so I’ll spend the money. With other things, if I can’t get it for a bargain, I’m not getting it. That’s real life in my world. 🙂

  20. Karen, I love how you have made your choices & like fitness/health, what works for you! Can’t get better than that!!!

    Major money issues over here these days so I really can’t spend anywhere BUT I do save for my running shoes vs. buying new clothes fitness or every day. Don’t buy clothes hardly ever. I get my hair colored (push it every 8-11 weeks vs. the every 3 weeks it really needs it) & will not do it myself as too much gray & who can ever see the back themselves.

    I have gone frozen veggies & actually don’t mind them.

    I really don’t splurge EXCEPT for me weekend cookie treats! 🙂

    • Karen

      I color mine too – gray and red do not look well together:( But I would shock you if I shared how very little I pay for my cut and color. I have a wonderful gal that does hair out of her basement and I will be in for sticker shock when her youngest graduates in a few years and she moves south. Sigh.

  21. I am so with you on the graham crackers!!!!!!!!!!! They must be name brand!

  22. laughing as you had me and lost me at the title.

    Ill be singing that ALLL WEEEKEND as I gaze at my too expensive zappos purchases 🙂

  23. Genie@dietof51

    Those are some very good questions, Karen.

    Most of my life, I thought I was “thrifty” because my clothes and shoes come from the clearance racks. Plus, the clothes I buy for husband and Sonny. (Teenager shoes, forget it–STICKER SHOCK!!!)

    The clearance rack is also a bad excuse for buying too much, and buying things that I “rationalized” for the price, but never actually wore.

    I’m very thrifty with home decorating. Because I learned how to sew in high school, I have saved a lot of money on window treatments, upolstery, and stuff like that. Plus, my mom was my role model. I once saw her change the color of a sofa by applying Rit dye with a shoe-polish bottle! Any idea how many hours of painstaking labor that took?

    The only time we hire someone is when it’s something we absolutely can’t do ourselves.

    But, looking at all of the “stuff” that I own, I realize that I wasn’t being thrifty at all with books, magazines, and other things that I didn’t need to own to experience. If I would have been a better borrower, we might have more money in the retirement fund. (Or, it might have been spent on other things equally non-necessary.)

    Live and learn. Or, in my case, it’s work until you die and learn…… Many regrets over dumb spending habits…..

    • Karen

      Ah – I forgot home decorating! A few years back we splurged on new carpeting and tile floors for our bathroom. The project grew and we spent more. Refaced the fire place, for example. Then it was time to face the kitchen. Well hubby and I repainted those darn cabinets ourselves! Coat after coat after coat. And I have always had a harder time resisting anything that is on SALE.

  24. ummm I think we may be related…sersly! I coulda wrote this about myself/family! stopping by from SITS and am now your newest follower

  25. I would say overall I’m the budget queen. I hate debt and have very little. I think you can find cute clothes at Target and Kohl’s. Clearance racks call my name. Sales excite me.

    However, generic peanut butter and mayonaise are disgusting. No way!! Spurge…buy JIF.

    Also, I spurge on having a personal trainer. Her rates are much lower than most, since she works for herself. It is still pricey. I figure if my husband feels no guilt about his golf membership then it’s ridiculous to feel guilt about spending to have a personal trainer. Plus…I really feels it’s beneficial.

    • Karen

      I buy at both too; Target is great for workout clothes, but all the pants in the regular stuff are too long for me. Kohl’s has petites, which is great, and almost always stuff is on sale or I have a coupon. Gotta love that:) And I think the trainer is a great splurge!

  26. Very fun post, Karen! You do come up with some winner topics and write about them in an authentic yet entertaining way!

    Shoes… yep, totally relate to bad feet = no penny pinching. I don’t even look at or try on the expensive ones. We sound a lot alike in other areas too, although I’m OK with almost anything generic. I like having savings on hand that I can use to splurge and go all out, rarely, but when it seems appealing. For many years, I always got the least expensive thing on the menu when we eat our (good think I love chicken) while my husband invariably had one of (or THE) most expensive. He’s worked on me and my beliefs about money, until I’ve finally adopted his “it’s only money” approach to life (for the most part) and started to order what I want without regard to the price.

    Because of your post, I’m giving thought to winter exercise and even the idea of a personal trainer. Thanks!

    • Karen

      Mostly I don’t worry about prices once I have made the decision to eat out. But sometimes I do. For our anniversary I ended up ordering my crab cakes as an appetizer because it was cheaper and I would not have eaten the bread that came with the more expensive lunch entree anyways. Of course that is the meal that was free after I found a hair in it. Fortunately my hubby and I are overall fairly in sync with spending habits. Mostly.

  27. I’m a spender but not on all things and I’m much better overall now than I’ve been in the past. Cleaning out my house a few times of accumulated garbage taught me the necessity of giving up some of those bad shopping habits.

    I shop off sales racks at Macy’s with coupons so I get good clothes for good prices, but I’m a purse nut. Like very expensive bags. I also have really great jewelry, not that I ever go anywhere to where it!

    I’m fanatical about paying bills and keeping credit perfect and also give a lot of money to charities. I try to never reduce that as a type of Thank You for everything I’ve been given. Problem area? Eating out. Both because of questions about preparations and what exactly I’m eating and because of cost.

    • Karen

      My husband does our bills and is the same about credit score. We should probably give more to charity though. I had not thought about jewelry because I so rarely bother anymore. But I used to only like the “real” stuff. But usually it was gifts from my mom or husband. Now on the rare occasions I wear any it is mostly cheap beaded stuff, often what I made myself.

  28. Oooops, error in above comment re shoes…

    I DO try on the expensive ones.
    I do not even look at or try on the INexpensive ones.

    Also, it’s a good thing (not think) I love chicken.

    Probably makes more sense now, eh?

    Must, must, must remember to proof comments before ckicking!

    • Karen

      I actually figured that out:) I keep thinking about adding an edit feature for comments. Then I forget. Maybe I need to look at those again. I never proof when I comment.

  29. I am a split spending personality like you. I splurge on things I want but don’t always need on some days and on others I don’t. Guess it depends which way the wind is blowing that day. If I want a new television, it is going to be the best one I can get. Not just the one that barely meets my minimum requirements for a television.

    For things I need I tend to be more frugal, because I believe needs are usually less exciting than wants. Toilet paper, it need just do one thing and do it fast; I don’t need to pay more for quilted triple ply paper with prints of clouds on it.

    • Karen

      Not to be sexist here, but I think most women go for the softer toilet paper:) That said, ours comes from Costco. Hmmm. Now the bigger questions is – which way should you hang it? That was one of the first marital issues that my husband and I encountered!

  30. LOL..I hang it either way, which ever way the roll lands on the roller. My wife does the same so we have no issue with that. The paper rolls off the roller both ways just as easy 🙂

  31. I’m definitely a schizophrenic shopper…I used to spend crazy amounts of money on purses. I switched to spending that on shoes after I had some ankle problems…mostly I’m dreaming of finding money fall from the sky…I’ll let you know if I Have any luck.

  32. I call my bf “good cheap”. He’s all about coupons and discounts and savings whenever possible. Basically, he hates spending money on himself – whether that’s food or clothes or hair cuts, etc etc. He’ll spend when he has to, but doesn’t enjoy it. But then he’ll get me a voucher for a 90 minute massage because I’ve had a stressful week at work. (Of course, he’ll probably use some sort of coupon code or promotion to buy it, but still!)

    I’ve started to become more like him. I used to go out and go shopping without ever really thinking about what I was spending. (Of course, that’s not saying I’d go out to Luis Vuitton or Gucci or anything ridiculous like that!) Now I’ve got to the point where I’m budgeting and far more aware of how much I spend and what on. I guess living with someone for 2 years can do that to you! Saving up for a house probably has a huge impact, too.

    My biggest splurges are fresh fruit & veg, supplements (I’m vit D and iron deficient) and gym membership. Basically, I’m happy to spend money on me and my health – though I will still be shopping around and doing price comparisons while doing it. 🙂

  33. I’m definitely the same way – selectively thrifty. I buy my cleansing conditioner (which is expensive) on QVC since that is the cheapest way. I splurge on fruit, but try to buy when it’s in season.

    And I do the same thing when it comes to rental car stuff for vacations…too funny! 🙂

    Oh – and I’m catching up on blogs tonight…which means that I’ll be commenting on about 12 of your older posts (yes…I’m that backlogged). UGH.

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