The Way We Shop

I have the Hunger Games trilogy in my Nook. I really want to read it. But instead, I am reading a book that I signed up to review for BlogHer. I’m eating my lima beans before I can bite into that juicy steak on my plate.

In this book, for which I will write a review in April, the author is bitten by the shopping bug. She is in New York City, and is shopping on Sixth Street. There is one problem; she and her husband have just lost their life savings in the Bernie Madoff scandal. She really shouldn’t be shopping, but the allure of the shops is unstoppable. She goes into an eyeglass store and finds an irresistible (to her) pair of frames–with lenses, this pair of glasses will cost her about one thousand dollars. She does walk out of the store, but obsesses about buying the glasses during her whole stay in New York, visiting the store two or three more times.

If that were me in the store, I would have been able to walk out without obsessing. I have never been able to spend that kind of money. I probably never will be able to buy a pair of glasses that expensive. However, the author of this book was raised in a house of privilege. In the past, she did spend that kind of money…in fact, it was soon revealed that she bought glasses at this same store in New York the year before, probably at about the same price. Obviously, she doesn’t shop at Glasses “R” Us like I do.

As I read this chapter, I couldn’t relate to the author at all. I wondered; do we spend money according to how we were raised, or according to our current financial situation? If, as a child, your family has a small income, do you continue to live as though you have a small income as an adult–when in reality you can afford to spend money? What about vice versa?

Shopping habits seem to go as far back as childhood. My grandma was a teen during the Depression; she lived frugally and hated to throw anything away. Everything had some use. When I was a little girl, we didn’t have much money either. My sister complained that she never got a new pair of shoes; she always wore my old shoes. My mom would take us to farm auctions to find furniture; she would drag us from garage sale to garage sale to find bargains. Sometimes I could hear my parents whispering and worrying about money.

When I was 22 and out on my own in the real world, my paycheck as a first year teacher was meager. We were paid on the 20th of the month, and so I had to budget my money carefully; making sure I had enough for rent, car payments and utilities. I was on my own financially. And I learned quickly how to be good with money; how to make my payments on time, how to not use credit unless I actually had the money.

Ed grew up in a similar way; we see eye to eye in money matters. We want to teach our daughters the value of money and help them have good spending habits. While I used to hate going to garage sales, I have recently discovered the value of garage sale-ing. A couple of years ago I looked for a bike for Lily, and found one in good condition. Lily test rode it, and loved it on the spot. Not only was it inexpensive, but it was fun to talk with the mom whose daughter loved that pink bike.

We certainly could have afforded to buy a bike for Lily. But we knew that she would outgrow a small bike quickly; every summer her legs get longer and longer. Rather than spend the money on a new bike, we were trying to be wise consumers. Plus, Ed always teases me that his middle name is “Green.” Finding a bike at a garage sale is the definition of reusing a product.

And so I think that the way we shop is a little bit of both; we were raised to be frugal out of necessity, and now we choose to be frugal because we wish to be smart spenders.

How do you shop?

7 Replies to “The Way We Shop”

  1. I am very frugal with my money, especially when it comes to me. As a kid, money was tight and we got new clothes when school started, or for birthdays and Christmas. My husband always laughs at me because our Christmas stockings were filled with necessities (razors, body wash, etc). I rarely pay full price for anything, no matter how much I want or need it. Although, the exception to that would be my face creams. I am a cosmetic junky (having worked in the industry in my past life) but typical ask for those things as gifts or request gift cards to put towards it. Ya, I would never be the one to drop $1000 on glasses… it actually pains me to spend money!

  2. A thousand dollars on GLASSES? I couldn't do it, not ever. I am the thrift store queen! And I was raised that way, too. Maybe it does have a lot to do with the way you are raised.

  3. I'm in your camp. When I was a kid, my allowance was a nickel, then a dime, and then a quarter (wow, I thought I'd hit the big time). Of course, I could never buy anything with that, so when I got to college, my roommate wondered why I'd never buy anything when we went to the mall. ("What? You want me to spend a whole $2 on a scrunchie? No way!)
    My recent post Flower Cupcakes for a Baby Shower

  4. I started out spending as if I didn't have a care in the world, like when I lived at home with my parents. That resulted in debt, lots of debt. I dug out of that in about 4 years, and now I spend frugally. I treat myself to things, but only if I can actually pay money for it. I've been debt free for probably about 4 years now. Not one penny in debt! 🙂
    My recent post Dear Fatty McFattykins…

  5. We shopped yard sales and thrift stores before long before it became popular. Our girls grew up in hand me downs and used clothing, and now as young adults are very wise and thrifty shoppers, thank goodness. Our youngest has even started taking older, out of fashion, used items, takes them apart and puts them back together, creating an attractive and wearable piece of clothing.

    We have always been bargain shoppers by nature, I think. We buy used clothes, check out the free swap table and area at our local town transfer station-we used to call them dumps 🙂 . Last fall we picked up a small gas grill, big enough to cook a generous dinner for four, in practically new condition. You just have to be patient and get educated about what you are looking for.

    We look at the bargain shopping as a means of spending less on some things so that we can put money towards things that are more important to us.
    My recent post The bane of “Must be Nice”

  6. Thank you for the lovely comment on my blog, Dream Custom Artwork. I appreciate you helping to make my SITS day so special! I enjoyed my visit here and will be back to read more soon!

  7. I love yard sales. Not only do you find some remarkable bargains but you help your neighborhood and your community out. From time to time, I shop in Thrift stores too because they have to train and pay their employees and make a profit like any other business. and sometimes I find the most amazing buy. Last time I went I found the prettiest pink shirt in a petite size that fit perfectly. I say, Karma rules. What we do comes back to us. I bet your daughter loves that bike. What KimH said is so true – you find a great bargain you can put the money towards other things you're saving for. I think it's a win/win, if you play it smart. I had a friend who was a shopaholic. I never knew they really existed until I met her. boxes and boxes of things she bought and never used. When her husband tried to control the money, she tried stealing and got arrested. Who needs everything in the world.
    My recent post Guest Post Ginny Marie

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