Frugality on hold

It’s been a while since I have talked money, partially because I have not been riding the frugality train as hard as I had been in the past. Things have started to look up with regards to income, of course that’s the life of a freelancer. Some years the Spousal Unit has had a great yearas a freelance writer and editor and then there are years like the past few where things have been tighter than…use your imagination.

Seriously though, I realized that while the past year we survived, we put a lot of things off that needed to be taken care of and recently have been playing catch up. The man and I broke down and got much-needed eyeglasses, truthfully he needed them more than me since I wear contacts but I always like to have a pair of recent glasses around for those days when my eyes are not feeling like wearing contacts.

While I have enjoyed thrift store shopping the fact is there are some items I am just not buying used, so we have been playing catch up with personal items. I must admit though my single biggest splurge was the Tony Lama boots I bought clocking in at $260 with tax. There was a part of me that felt guilty about buying em, but I will be honest I have been wanting a pair of cowboy boots for quite a while, last pair I had lasted a good 5-6 years and they were no name ones. I also have not bought a pair of decent shoes in years and that is not an exaggeration. I used to be a die-hard Dansko wearer, last pair I bought was 4 years ago and they are still going strong with my oldest pair at 12 years still in rotation.

One of the reasons I had not bought shoes aside from not having any extra cash is that I am big believer in you get what you pay for as far as footwear. Yeah, you can go to Payless and get a pair of $20 kicks but my own experience doing so is generally they either fall apart or have my feet hurting. Thankfully my old shoes have lasted and definitely have some life in them but sometimes you want something just because….in this case I have been through financial hell and back in recent years and while there is a temporary lull, I just needed something for me.

Now that we are getting adjusted to having a little more breathing room in the budget, we have no plans to go hog wild but I admit the past few weeks have been nice. I am reminded that having extra cash is nice, sometimes it allows you freedom. This past weekend, we took the girl child to see Nemo on Ice, it wasn’t planned but it came up and she really wanted to go. Just a few months ago, we would have had to say sorry sweetie instead we were able to go and while I found the show boring and all the extras they were selling to be quite costly ($10 for cotton candy? Come on now), I was one again reminded that sometimes life is meant to be enjoyed and money can help that happen.

So its time to get back on the frugality wagon as we prepare for tax season, and some travel plans. How are your attempts at frugality coming for this year? What are you doing in this area? Are you making the most of deals, steals, sales and coupons?

Schemes to part us from our loot

As further proof that I need to rename this blog old black chick in Maine, I have only recently learned about the Kindle reading device. I had heard about it a while back and knew that it was a reading device but after hearing a few folks recently debate the merits of the Kindle versus the Nook, I figured I would find out what the hype was all about.

Let me state for the record that I am a voracious reader, I love books, I love to read. Never am I reading less than 2-3 books at a time. We as a family are on a first name basis with the library, going at least 2-3 times a week. I admit there was a time when I used to pass by the library instead to spend money at bookstores. Yet in 2007 when our financial tide shifted I was reintroduced to the joys of the library and have been a fan ever since. I will buy a book, but generally only if it’s a very specific book that I will either use as a reference guide or something I really want to own.

Yet as someone who always travels with a book in my bag, I thought maybe it would be great to have less weight in my bag, which is why I was checking out the Kindle. So if I have done my reasearch right, it appears that the starting price is $259 for the basic device, and then I have to start buying something to read on my device. Now I admit the magazine subscription prices seemed reasonable, I love magazine but I canceled almost all my subscriptions instead choosing to borrow them from the library. The few publications I still buy are quarterly so the cost isn’t too bad especially if I find a friend willing to loan me their copy.

What got me though was the cost of New York Times bestsellers, they were going for $9.99, I saw a few for $14.99 but I was told you can find inexpensive stuff to buy as well. Oh really? Once I started adding up how much my reading habit would cost to go Kindle, let’s just say I had a laugh and decided I will be sticking with the local library and the occasional visit to the local booksellers.

I think for folks making a comfy financial existence, who travel a bit and love to read, the Kindle might be a good idea. However for most of us regular Jane and Joe’s, I am not sure its a great idea. From a purely financial standpoint, it’s definitely not a great idea, after all in most places access to the library is free or there is only a very minimal cost to check out items.

No, the Kindle like so many other gadgets that we think we must have, seems to be another scheme to part us from our money.

I spent some cash…

I guess since I been talking money lately, I might as well keep it up. Actually I have a confession to make, I spent some money this weekend. It was an unplanned purchase but one that I have been thinking about for a while. I bought a netbook. See, my laptop that I have been using for the past several years has been acting wonky, my internal wi-fi connection died well over a year ago, so the only way to access the internet is to plug-in at home. Which in some ways defeats the purpose of me owning a laptop since as someone whose job keeps me on the go, having a laptop that I need to keep at home just sucks. Granted that is not the reason I bought another one or was thinking of one, no, my system has just been getting slower and slower combined with the fact that sometimes I can’t even turn it on. This happened a while back on a day I had a grant deadline, it was not pretty at all. It cost me $100 and a visit to the computer repair shop to get it working again…no, it’s been time for a while to get a reliable computer. Yet in trying not to spend, I have been putting it off.

So yesterday found me at the Verizon wireless shop where the plan had been to get the Spousal Unit his free phone upgrade but they were having quite a sale, where after the rebate the cost of my new netbook is less than $100. Yes, I know it will require yet another  data plan, but this is where my also being self-employed in addition to my day job is a good thing since my cell plans are actually business expenses for me…so its all good.

I guess I felt like sharing this because in my last post, a commenter made a comment to the effect that living a life of frugality is not always a good thing. Yes, that’s true but when we are saving money and being intentional about our money, it gives us freedom. The freedom to buy a computer when we really need it and there is a great deal to be had. See, when I was living and spending and really not thinking about the long-term plans for money then I could not make such purchases. Hence why I ended up on a deadline with a dying computer that had all my work on it.

Make no mistake, I am not living a spartan life, yes we drive a beater but just the other day when I was griping about our car, the Spousal Unit reminded me that it’s all ours. We owe no one money on this car which makes it beautiful, I have to say I agree. Yes, we want a newer car but unless our car either dies outright or doesn’t pass inspection next month, then we need to keep on trucking with it.

When we are frugal and forgo the daily drink or other small items that threaten our financial stability with the slow leaks, we are trading short-term pleasures which really mean little for overall financial security. Don’t get me wrong, I am human and when I hear about friends who have the latest and hottest toys (I-phones, snazzy footwear…lawd, I love gorgeous footwear) I do have a twinge. Hell, I envy buddies who hire cleaning ladies! On the other hand, striving to get financially free is what feels good to me at this time. Besides cleaning my house is a workout since with 10 rooms, it takes a lot to clean it up, so when I do clean, not only am I saving money but I am getting in a workout!

So for those who are following my journey with money, no I am not completely depriving myself but as I love to say its all about balance and sometimes I even spend some money.