Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Finding My Inner "Frugal", or The Best Christmas Present Ever

Today's the day I will go and purchase a small gift for my husband, Bill, for Christmas. For the past few years, we really haven't exchanged gifts and instead have chosen to support organizations that feed the hungry, and take care of those less fortunate. Still, it's fun to find some funny or needed item(s) to give him. I am not going to tell you here what I am going to get on the slight chance he may read this blog today.

There is one gift that Bill would really, really appreciate getting from me. That gift would be for me to find my inner"frugal". And then, to practice it all year long. You know, "the gift that keeps on giving". It's at the very least, something to think about.

As is the case with many married couples, one person is very frugal, er, stingy with money and the other doesn't see a purchase he or she doesn't like! This difference in spending habits can wreck a perfectly good relationship if the couple does not address and discuss this early on. We may be one of the worst couples when it comes to having a good understanding of our comfort levels in regards to our spending habits. We disagree in the origins of our beliefs, in the reasons we are who we are and the justifications of our spending actions. (Thank goodness the sex is soooo good, or we would probably be history!)

Now, do not be too worried, we are actually more similar than he would like you to believe. For starters, we both believe we should stay within our means and we hold no credit card debt, ever. We also both believe that he need to spend a certain amount on charities, church and other needy causes. From there, it goes downhill............

Bill is easier to explain. He has always worked hard his entire life. He put himself through college, bought his own cars, helped out financially to many of his family members and so he is our frugal side for the relationship (surprise). He believes that very little should be spent on clothes, lavish trips, household items such as furniture and appliances, etc. His one area that he has been corrupted, er, changed, is in the level of vacation needs. He does enjoy the nicer places with comfy beds and ocean views. He believes that saving 10-15% for retirement is simply not enough. And, his retirement plan shows us dying when we are 100!

I am the more complicated (okay, difficult) member of this relationship. I love to shop (well, not the actual act of shopping, but collecting wonderful items). I love giving clothes and items for the children. Dressing Laura is like having a life-sized doll around the house. I got the biggest kick out of buying and decorating Andy's first tiny apartment with his girlfriend, Kim. Jonathan had one of the nicest decorated rooms in his whole fraternity house. I always was given many items from my parents and it just feels right to do the same for my kids, when we can afford it.

I also love wonderfully-made clothes and SHOES. Going to Nordstroms', Saks' or Neiman Marcus' shoe department at the beginning of the season is almost orgasmic for me. I appreciate antiques and love buying art as well. I once spent $1000 on delicate trim for our bedroom curtains! Now, that was crazy, even for me. But you should see it...delicious.

Finally, I want to help all businesses when I walk in to their shop or talk to them about their business. Never take me to an auction for a good cause and give me liquor, it's not pretty. It makes me feel good to help others. In my retirement plan, I would want to say that I'll be around until I'm 80 years old, too.

Couples like us have a regular tug and pull affair and each person tries to bend the other's ear with the slight chance they may change. This works best when both couples can be open and respectful of the other's side of the argument. Mostly, we make each other feel bad which is not very nice at all.

Now, this year has been difficult on the old pocketbook, so it's the perfect year to lean more towards Bill's philosophy on life and spending. I have already cut out a lot of frivolous spending for myself, but I can do more.
Bill deserves a little less stress in his life this year, so it's time to bite the frugal bullet. Time to pull in the reigns. Time to buckle down. (Sounds almost dangerous, doesn't it?).

If it's okay by you, I may use this page to vent a little, cry a little and complain a little. Maybe in time, I can change, for the better (or worse?). That's what I repeated in our wedding vows, didn't I?

Wish me luck...

1 comment:

Frank said...

Hello Beth, Bravo and I second your blog. My greatest Chrismas presents will always be my family. With nothing else I have my family and it makes me a happy man. Merry Christmas to all. Frank Feeney