Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Frugal Mind Games

If you are a frugal person, you are probably on top of your budget allowances for various areas of your life and think a lot about what things cost and how to get them cheaper or do without them. I'm wondering, are there any other frugal "weirdos" out there who continually play math games in their mind regarding costs of things? Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not obsessive about money or costs to the point of being unable to splurge or enjoy myself. But, I think it's kind of FUN, yes, enjoyable even, to do these little equations in my head or on my calculator.

For example:

Every time I use a cloth diaper I tell myself I'm saving 15 cents! Every time I use one of my new cloth diapers from the yard sale I tell myself that after only 16 uses per diaper, they will have paid for themselves at the yard sale price.

Every time I use my homemade laundry detergent (which is easy to make and works wonderfully), I'm saving at least 7 cents!

When we're sitting down to dinner sometimes my mind will try to figure out how much per person the food costs.

It now costs me 25 cents to drive to my parent's house and back (8/10ths of a mile).

My kids, being the huge eaters that they are, generally eat $1-$2 EACH, every day, just in snacks, not including meals.

I figure the new shirt my mom bought me costs me $1 per each wearing (17 wearings) until the baby comes. IF it lasts that long since it's very delicate fabric. If it does last for another future pregnancy or two then the cost of each wearing drops dramatically. If I were to ruin the shirt after only a few wearings it would have cost $5 or $6 each time I wore it!

My Crocs, which I love and wear EVERY day for a year, cost me 8 cents per day to wear.

When your toddler dumps all the juice in their sippy cup in the sandbox it's about 33 cents wasted!

When I'm at a pricey restaurant, I think to myself, "King Jo worked 2 and a half hours to pay for this one meal!"

My new hanging basket of flowers costs $4 a month to look beautiful on the patio! I was absolutely disgusted that the local store charged $3.59 per tiny petunia plant. Even though I had my own hanging basket and dirt, it cost around $15 to get 4 tiny plants!

Of course I don't want to become obsessive, thinking about things only in terms of cost but it's kind of a good thing to sit down once in a while and remind yourself what your purchases are costing on a daily, or per-use, basis. I've gotten lots of things in the past at "cheap" thrift store prices that I thought were a bargain and then never used. It's very helpful for me to sit and think about whether or not I really want to buy a certain article of clothing that may cost me a lot of money per wearing. It's very helpful for me as a wife, entrusted with a budget from my husband, to think about how I spend the money he works very hard for. Of course it's OUR money and I don't feel like he's cruel or tight-fisted with it, but I want to spend what he makes responsibly because it was earned through his sweat, calluses, smashed fingers, and straining muscles (he's a carpenter for those of you who don't know and he goes logging a lot in the summer).

So, the next time you are tempted to buy something impulsively, sit down and do a little bit of simple math. Will you really use it? How often will you use it? If you will use it regularly will it be worth the per-use cost of it?


The Three 22nds said...

We don't have a budget on paper. We have one goal: spend less then we earn :)

I know how much we spend though in each category, and I am always trying to make things come out even. (does that "make things come out even" remind anyone else of a certain children's book?)

I play "guess the final total" in the grocery store and I ALWAYS do the "I will have to work for X amount of hours to get it really worth it?" That one has stopped me from many purchases!

Money stresses me out though, and I know myself. I am careful with our money despite having no budget, and so what I buy is stuff that is appropriate. If I start getting too nitpicky about how much certain things cost etc my husband gets cranky and I am stressed.

All in a Day said...

I did that for the first time this year with some Girl Scout cookies we bought. It was quite an eye-opener.

Laura said...

I came over here to read your Frugal Friday post from Biblical Womanhood...and I noticed right away that you're naming your new baby Justus!!! We have four boys...and our second son is named Justus. I LOVE that name (of course!) and I don't hear it a lot. So...GREAT choice! What a great ultrasound picture!! When is he supposed to arrive?!

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