I don't know about y'all, but the gas situation we've found ourselves in is really crappy. Where I live, the "cheap" gas is now going for $3.17 a gallon. Now I'm gonna sound all old fogeyish when I say this, but I never thought I'd be in my early 30's and see gasoline over the $3 mark. When Scott & I first married in 2000, I remember filling up for $1.12 a gallon and thinking that was just about the most awful price in the world. How wrong...how naive I was.
These trying petrol times have caused us to reflect on our spending and ways that we can be better stewards of how God has blessed us. Proverbs 3:9 reminds us to "Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops..." We love finding ways to cut costs, save some dimes, and pinch pennies. However, there are also things that we don't mind paying more for. Scotty has a theory--one should never mess with Corvettes, underwear, or mayonnaise. Meaning, a Corvette is never gonna be cheap (you get what you pay for!), anything other than Brooks Brothers undies are a no-no for him, and don't even think of buying the off-brand mayo...or, even worse, reduced-fat or fat-free versions. Oh, the horror! For the record, we only use my beloved Blue Plate mayonnaise...that I "import" from Georgia, the real south, since I can't find it in my neck of the woods.
Recently I started thinking of ways that we save versus splurges that we enjoy without guilt. Here's a brief list:
A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned (for splurges!)
*Just this week we canceled the movie channels we got via DirecTV. We never watched them, yet were being charged $35 per month. I realized, "Hey--this is good Target money!" and made the call. That's $350 this year. Whoop!
*Magazines are my weakness...I love to read pretty much anything, especially the latest Hollywood gossip, cleaning tips, make-up techniques, and which clothes flatter my body type. (Potato sack, anyone?) But the various issues started piling up...half went unread. Bye-bye Vogue, Real Simple, Better Homes and Gardens, and Creating Keepsakes.
*While I'd love to have a closet full of Chanel, Prada, Armani, and Chloe...or heck, even Talbots and Ann Taylor, my life and job require my wardrobe to be more along the lines of comfort. While I do purchase my "going out" clothes from Lands End, the rest of my staples are found at Target...Old Navy...and Forever 21 if I'm feeling young and sassy. Even if I had millions of fashion dollars at my disposal, I'm quite certain Target would still be at the top of my shopping list. $3000 for a blouse? That might be fine for Suzanne Sugarbaker, but not for this southern belle! And if you don't get the "Designing Women" reference, you need to be watching the reruns on TV Land! My all-time favorite sitcom, ever!
*I used to love shampooing with fabulous Aveda and Bumble & Bumble hair care products. Then I discovered that Dove works just as well...for beyond a fraction of the cost. While I'd never use the absolute cheapest stuff on my locks, I feel better about not using the $25 bottles...because then I can just buy better make-up! (Thank you, Bare Minerals!)
*This used to be my ultimate splurge...Bliss Spa's Vanilla Bergamot Body Butter. If you happen to click on the link, you'll see that it's a whopping $35 per 8.5 ounce tube. Or, the cost of a ton of movie channels on DirecTV for one month. In my defense, I've only purchased this sublime stuff with Sephora gift cards. $35 for body cream? Granted, it is far superior than anything Bath & Body Works ever produced, but still. In its stead, I found a little gem that fits my bill at $6 per jar: Nivea Creme! This stuff is very old-school...it's been around for years, and is basically whipped vasoline...but it gets the job done and my legs are rather thankful for the moisturization! No, it's not as heavenly smelling as the Bliss stuff...but it's almost $30 cheaper. 'Nuff said.
*Target bags are the greatest things. (Wal-mart will do in a pinch, but they just aren't the quality as the red bullseye ones.) I use them in all our smaller trash cans (and cringe when I see "real," store-bought ones in the homes of others), toss the stinky pull-ups away in them, and grab one each morning when I clean Lewis' shadoobie & pee clumps out of his litter box. You people out there who empty your Target purchases and toss the bags are CRAZY. I will never understand one's lack of useage of this most fine resource.
*Other random ways I'm cheap: Store brands (most, that is--can't mess with Pop Tarts or toilet tissue!), meatless meals, el-cheapo pantyhose (they're gonna run anyway...and they're of the devil, so why buy pricey ones?), and playclothes for my girls. Yes, I love dressing them adorably, and preferably with monograms emblazoned across the chest. However I cannot understand buying jeans, capris, khakis, etc. at places such as Gap or Limited Too. Unless there's an enormous sale, that is. But give me the $4 shorts and $9 jeans at Target anyday--even better when they're on sale or clearance. I have friends who pay--gasp!--$30 per pair of Gymboree jeans. Are you people crazy, or just crazy? Give me the cute Gymboree top, bought on sale and with Gymbucks, and the capris from Target...and there's the look!
When Only the Best Will Do (or the best that I'm willing to pay!)
*I mentioned my love of magazines...while I still receive my favorites, the pile is much smaller. I love my People and Entertainment Weekly, because by now it's apparent I rather enjoy all things pop culture. And no southern belle is living her best life without the monthly Bible of the south...yes, I'm speaking of Southern Living. I look forward to my monthly fix of gardening/decorating/cooking tips, and SL delivers the goods every time. Since we live in the middle of nowhere, I rely on InStyle to keep abreast of all the latest fashion do's and don'ts. Of course I don't buy the ultra-chic clothing lables featured in this mag, but I can dream...and stay current, at least. These are the magazines I relish...in my own home, without guilt.
*I've blogged before about my obsession with scent...and it goes beyond candles. We have Glade and Air Wick plug-ins all over our house. I replace them every 6 weeks, and they're not the cheapest items to buy in bulk. I do use coupons when available, and at times Wal-mart puts the Air Wick brand on sale...when that happens, I buy up big time. So I consider these little gems to be a splurge. And my house always smells fresh and clean, even when it's not...and that's worth its weight in gold! Plus Libbey says that our house always smells "really good"--and I love that she notices such as that. But the best compliment came from a friend who recently told me, "I can't believe you have a cat--it doesn't smell like it." YES! Mission accomplished!
*I've never understood the faux cola option offered at every store in the country. Give me the more expensive real Coke, or give me nothing. We don't drink a ton of it anyway, so if we're gonna induldge it's not gonna be with Sam's Choice Cola. Uh-uh. This Georgian is going for the Real Thing--Coke in a can! (Right Sarah?) And Dr. Lightning for Dr. Pepper? Whatevs, people.
*Vacations--this is a big one for us. While we save in practically every other area of our life (and not just the few I've mentioned here), when we vaca, we vaca to the hilt. We plan our getaways in advance, sussing out the best restaurants, booking guided tours, and purchasing seats for concerts and shows. In our everyday lives, we work hard...no one is a more committed physician than my Scotty and he puts in the hours every week to prove this. (Plus his patients adore him--and that says more than anything in my book!) Meanwhile, I clean my admittedly large house every day, teach Caroline, shuffle Libbey to various lessons and such, cook, manage the laundry, work in the yard, etc., etc., etc., and keep the Litton household running, just as most wives. So while we work hard, we also play hard. In fact, that's our vacation motto! When we make a break for the beach,the Caribbean, Las Vegas, or wherever, we go all out, and don't mind to drop coin while we're at it. Last year in Vegas we saw Celine Dion in concert, comedian Danny Gans, and a performance of LOVE, a Cirque du Soleil show centered around the music of the Beatles. These were not cheap events by any means...but we thoroughly enjoyed each one and wouldn't have done Vegas any differently. I know you can do Vegas on the cheap, but really...what's the fun in that? Now, I'm not saying we fly first class or stay in the penthouse suite when we have our time off, but we do take advantage of certain perks...such as breakfast in bed via room service (my absolute fave, mostly because it was always forbidden on Roth family vacations--due to the expense, of course!), or a late-night meal at a 5-star restaurant that's mostly empty...and then we receive fabulous, more personable service. Again, without guilt...because we've earned the break from the "real world."
And there you have it...Lula's thoughts on scrimping, saving, and splurging. I could go on and on (haven't I already?), but these were the first things that came to mind. My uber-cheap and wonderfully dear friend, Beckie , has all kinds of frugal ideas and sites listed on her blog. We all need to go to the "School of Beckie," a phrase Sarah coined last year while we were in Gatlinburg. She's one of those women you read about that buy $300 worth of groceries for $30. Rock on, Beck...
Musing over my cheapness made the ever-rising gas predicament seem a tiny bit less miserable. And I still enjoy my splurges--but I love my thriftiness, too!