I went shopping with a friend today at Sam’s Club. Just a
few things—you know how it is.I wanted a beef roast that I could cut up for
stir fry and whatnot and found a nice big one for $2.48/lb. Nice pretty beef
eye of round that set me back $13.66 for a chunk of meat that will last me at
least a couple of months if not longer.
My friend needed several items and before I know it her
cart is filled to the top with some stuffed in the bottom. Her total was
I would like to say that it was wasted money but it was
all stuff that she uses. Meat for her and her roommate, laundry detergent, dog
food, paper towels, bathroom tissue—stuff like that.
I look at her overflowing cart and then back to my little
chunk of meat. The saddest part was she had overspent her budget and had to
borrow some money from me until she got home.
We sat there in the car calculating how much she owed me
and she is looking over her receipt wondering how she spent so much, just
staring at it in amazement.
I think of my little chunk of meat, which I didn’t
really need because I have meat, but I wanted in
order to have a variety of meats to choose from while eating. Officially I
guess you could say it was a splurge, but it was a staple so I still consider
it a need.
I think of the things she bought and I realize that a lot
of people, including myself in the not so recent past spent that much money
just to survive.
That thought frightens me in this economy. She is
unemployed with no idea where her next check is coming from thanks to
congressional dickering, a woman who has looked and looked for a job, who
cannot take a minimum wage job because her bills are WAY too high but cannot
find an open position for what she considers a living wage.
She looks at me like I’m an eccentric for my frugal ways,
declaring that “normal” people can’t live like I can before going on with her
life, juggling bills with a dexterity I have never before seen. I know if she
would apply those skills to frugality she would blow me away but she refuses to
even consider it—she is “cheap” enough.
I looked at her cart. The bathroom tissue and paper towels
I would not have bought for I use cloth, so there was at least $25 off of her
bill. The individually-packaged drinks would have been out as well, saving
another $15. The volume of meat would not have been considered, but I eat a lot
less meat then her and her roommate.
Instead of spending eight dollars on dishwashing liquid I
spend $0.79 cents on a bar of Octagon soap, twice that if I want to stock up.
Instead of $19 on laundry detergent I spend maybe two bucks.
I am not dissing my friend: I love her dearly and
she has been there for me a lot over the years. I watch her and I see
myself just a few short years ago–spending, spending, spending.
I believe that seeing myself in her is what disturbed me
the most, because I don’t like the free spender that I used to be.
It is so easy for us to become wrapped up in the world of
buying stuff—just too easy. Now instead of working at a job where I’m
constantly yelled at, in fear that I’ll feel the ax come the next layoff I make
my own money here at home.
I want you, all of you to know that there is a better way
of living. You do NOT have to spend these obscene amounts of money to
live and live well. Where is the enjoyment of a fancy house or car if you have
to work all the time just to make the payments?
Would it not be soo much nicer to live a simpler life and
have more time to do what YOU want to do?
It CAN be done, but the solution is not in a pill or a
bottle or a book.
The solution is within you.