spending spree

Lately we have been in a different kind of mode regarding money. There are a lot of factors here… finally having income again after a lean winter, Keith working 14 hours a day, having a new baby, moving to a new home… but it all adds up to spending more money than usual.

I’m balancing our checkbook just now and am working my way through more than the numbers. We don’t usually need to work at sticking to a budget; we keep a running tally of our monthly bills and living expenses, and they stay pretty much the same from month to month. Lately, though, there have been all kinds of new investments, and I’m going back to rethink them.

The biggest one was a new lawnmower. Keith spent several evenings searching Craigslist and local stores for the best price on a used one. He took a day to do errands in Coeur d’Alene, including checking out used lawnmowers, and at last settled on getting one from a local place in St. Maries. Totally out of our budget, yet buying one in town means that we can get it serviced here, and buying a new one means that there is a warranty and we can expect it to last a good while. It also means that Keith can spend his evenings with us rather than perusing the computer for a deal, and it means that we can actually enjoy our large lawn now… which was nearly a foot tall… without worrying that our children will get lost in it.

There are a lot of other little “worth it” expenses that just really add up. A ceramic handprint of our newborn son. A copy of his birth certificate. A trip to the chiropractor. A second SwaddleMe wrap so that I don’t have to hold the baby all night when his other wrap is dirty. (I am terrible at swaddling with blankets… he always escapes and cries.) Keith meeting friends for breakfast one morning. Me buying a new purse and diaper bag combo after being totally sick of my heavy-lead-content purse and picked-out-by-others diaper bags. Buying a couple of nice wooden lawn chairs for ourselves and the paint to paint them with after years of wishing for something we could sit on outside. A lovely new rocking chair that was Keith’s birthday gift to me.

The truth is that we could have done without all of these items. Yet I am glad for all the money that we have spent on them. Buying a copy of Abraham’s birth certificate now means that we don’t have to later. Getting a new purse is like getting a facelift… if I was into that kind of thing… because I used my old one for two years and am so excited to only cart around one medium-sized bag now. Meeting friends for breakfast is an investment in relationships… and yes, there are other ways to do that, but sometimes just eating out can be a nice change. It’s possible that we would have found cute lawn furniture eventually, but we’ve been looking for three summers, and buying the new (on sale) ones at the local hardware store means we can enjoy them now. I already had a rocking chair, but the cushions were worn out and it squeaked loudly enough to wake up the neighbors, according to Keith, so having a comfortable place to fall asleep in the middle of the night when I’m up with our little boy is WORTH IT.

Really, all of these things are worth it. But it is hard sometimes to let go and spend money on things that we could have lived without. Have you ever heard the logic that when you are in debt, everything costs more? The idea behind it is that every dollar you spend could have gone toward debt, and every item you buy ends up costing you more if you factor in the interest rate you’re being charged on the debt that you didn’t pay down. It all adds up to us feeling guilty any time we buy something that isn’t totally necessary. Yet I would rather enjoy our lives on the way to paying off our debt than be total sticklers for not buying anything unless absolutely necessary for another three or four years.

I am a firm believer that there is a time to spend and a time to save. Sometimes these times follow close on the heels of one another. I am thinking that it is time to tighten the reins a bit on our budget again, but that doesn’t mean that I regret the money already spent on these and other recent investments. It just means that we need to revisit frugality so that the next time something is so worth it, we will have the money to pay for it. For now, I am going to thoroughly enjoy the results of our recent spending spree, and seek wisdom for living in balance when it comes to spending.

Published in: on June 18, 2010 at 12:51 pm  Comments (1)