It has been an interesting experience, working outside the home again these past six days. I had quite forgotten what it was like to work all day and then arrive home completely exhausted, only to have the usual necessary gotta do's still there to... gotta DO. However, It is for a very good cause and I can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
I may find the cost of textbooks to be highway robbery but the education provided will be a good thing. This year at the Junior College, Christopher is taking a lab science class, another advanced math class, and an English class (that is basically a writing class)... all good classes to prepare a high school senior for the University. We will be "homeschooling" three classes this semester so I don't have to give up my homeschool mom title, yet.
This past week has also me appreciate being able to stay home and be a full time homemaker. Each room in the house is showing signs of neglect, I've lost a couple of flowers on the deck because there was no time to give them extra water in this heat, and I am very tired of fast food already. Forget doing anything creative at home. Those of you who are juggling home and a job (sometimes two jobs) have my respect, especially as I know many are also single moms who have all household burdens on your shoulders.
All of this has reminded me recently of the book, Your Money or Your Life. I read it many years ago but it had a powerful impact on me, as did Svenson's book called Margin, which I would consider a must read book for every person. The book, Margin, reminds us that we need space (aka: Margin) in our life rather than overspending money and time. In Your Money, the authors have you think of every expenditure you make as it relates to how much you have to earn to pay for it (or your husband, wife, parent, etc.). For instance, is that latte really worth the $4.00 (after taxes are taken out) worth of corresponding work?
When one is working minimum wage, it is easy to associate one with the other. It works the opposite way, too. Christopher was very tired a couple of days ago and wanted to leave work early. I reminded him he had only two hours until he was scheduled to leave... or three Chi Latte drinks at Starbucks. He thought of that and went back to work for those remaining two hours. They are his favorite frugal luxury.
I needed these two weeks of exhaustion (at minimum wage pay) to remind me to think carefully before making a purchase. Do I really need another teacup from Goodwill just because it is available or should I save my money and check the antique stores for something special to add to my collection later? Do I need a new pair of "walking" shoes or will these last another year? (The answer is YES, I do need a new pair!) Do I need that book or just want it? Okay, now we're getting into territory that will not answer easily, or quickly! :)
I needed this reminder, this association between spending and income. A freshman student came to my cash register with an armful of clothing this past week, all with the university's emblems stamped at one place or another. His total came to $600.00... in one purchase... all in t-shirts, sweatshirts, and one lightweight jacket. He looked at his friends and said his parents were going to kill him but I didn't see any evidence he planned to return any of the items he thought he needed so badly. I doubt he has any idea how much work someone has to do for that amount of money, especially a student at low wages. I have thought of him quite often these past few days and how it took about thirty minutes worth of shopping to go into that kind of debt.
We do not all have to take a vow of poverty like freddie but we do need to think before we spend more often. Do I want a brand new car and the work that corresponds to pay it off or would I rather live a much simpler life? Do I want to spend or be creative? Just recently I saw a cute (as in well marketed) craft item for little girls. It was over $6.00 when tax was added. I almost put it in my shopping cart to put back for Miss E.'s Christmas when I picked it up and took a closer look. Hmmm... I could easily put together something myself for three of the grandchildren that would have more items at less expense than that one package. It won't have shrink wrap around it but I bet I can package it even cuter... and all I took was a moment to rethink a purchase.
Don't get me wrong, I do make purchases. I even enjoy Starbucks, new books, vintage china and linens, and even "dinner out" once in awhile. But I have had to think through what my "luxuries" will be and I have a set amount I can spend before I lose my peace. We all have different bank accounts and some can spend quite a bit before hitting their "margin". For those of us on strict budgets, we do need to draw a line in the sand before spending... that line that says to cross it will bring temporary spending pleasure but long term payback.
I expect that college freshman will have been long settled in a career if his parents make him make the payments for that thirty minutes of shopping pleasure. Gives one something to think about.