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 over $300.
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.