I’m Cheap and Easy

A couple of women at my work are relatively new home owners. They spend all their free time talking about home decorating and/or buying stuff with which to decorate their homes. They know what these words mean: finial, valance, accent piece, backsplash, casement, sconce and torchere. I only know these words because I hear people saying them. I’ve never been motivated to look them up to see what they mean.

Anyway, every couple of weeks these women giggle about  how they’ve just spent their entire pay-cheque on things like window treatments and spattering for the bathroom.  I find this fascinating because I pretty much never spend any money on household stuff. As long as I have somewhere warm and comfortable to sleep, a place to sit and maybe a table-top or two in my home, I’m good. I never paint, wallpaper or match colour swatches. I don’t go crazy at Bouclair. I’ve never even been to Bouclair. I can’t bring myself to spend money on things like throws and tealight holders. Nothing matches or complements itself or anything else at my place.

I’m also pretty thrifty when it comes to clothing.  Friends might rave about the sexy boots they got on sale for $300 and, while I like footwear as much as the next gal, I’d never spend money on shoes just because they’re sexy.

I also don’t think $48.50 is a steal for a t-shirt, even if it somehow, miraculously converts into an evening gown. I only buy clothes at rock-bottom prices at thrift shops, outlets and clearance racks. So far, no one has mistaken me for a bag lady.

I’m also too cheap to buy things like gadgets or dishes or cookware or books or appliances or accessories of any sort at regular stores for regular prices when this stuff is available at yard sales.

All that to say that I’m rather frugal, economical, prudent, parsimonious and/or cheap in areas where others might have a secret spending vice.


While many others would delight in finding bread on sale at Costco for 39 cents or getting a whole bag of apples from the discount bin at the local supermarket or picking up a big bottle of no-name ketchup for a fraction of the price of the name-brand stuff, I am privately horrified.

I gladly spend $12.00 for two loaves of bread every week because it’s wonderful bread. I have no qualms whatsoever in hunting down the freshest possible produce every week, even if I have to pay a premium price and go to half a dozen different places to find it.  I wouldn’t dream of buying no-name food products if there’s something somewhere that tastes better and is better, nutritionally.

I spend a lot of money on food. I’d rather not eat at all than eat something I don’t enjoy and/or that is of inferior quality.

I like to feed other people good stuff, too.  I’m especially happy when they appreciate the effort. Some people can’t tell the difference, but that’s okay, because I know I’ve given them something good. I even found out recently that I spend a lot more to feed my cat than other people spend to feed their cats. Bazel gets only top-notch organic cat food.

I also happily spend too much money on stuff like soap, toothpaste and shampoo and lotion because I can’t stand the thought of cleaning or moisturizing myself or my child with weird chemicals developed in some moldy lab somewhere halfway across the world.

But other than that, I always hunt or negotiate for a bargain for most things. Where does all your money go?


53 responses to “I’m Cheap and Easy

  1. Interesting topic. I am similar to you with respect of food and clothing. I own one office shoe, one sneaker and one loafer; none of them cost more than USD 30/- and I will use them till my toes poke through or the sole drop off before buying the next one. As for food, I used to be thrifty too and look for bargains but my wife is slowly turning me towards the way you think. As for household things, I am a little bit of a sucker for gadgets especially for the kitchen but otherwise spend little.

  2. I have to agree with you. Most of the time, I’m very thrifty. Buy no name food products (it’s the same thing), some at VV or only buy stuff on sale. However I will have no problem forking out the cash if it’s something that has a duel purpose. That way, I feel like I”m getting more for my money. So if it’s a scarf that can turn into a dress, that sounds good to me.

    My money mostly goes into the house. The bills and renovations. If not the house, then in a savings towards my next vacation.

  3. I enjoyed reading this! I tend to be frugal too but my passion is books not food. Secondhand clothing makes perfect sense to me BUT redecorating the house every few months is such a waste of money.

  4. I really need to rethink my spending habits. In my office, right now, I can count 13 pairs of shoes. I have many, many more at home. I just love fashion so much. I do go to thrift stores quite a bit, and buy stuff on sale, but really, I just need to quit buying stuff and focus on what I have.
    I also have a really bad relationship with Pier 1….I stalk it and wait for things to go on sale. I don’t need more stuff. In fact we are having a garage sale this weekend to get rid of much of what we accumulated over the years.

  5. Hi …Just got back from The Heart of the Old World (aka Bathurst between Lawrence and Wilson) and a rather hangover-inducing Rosh HaShana.

    I could not agree with you more about the quality food thing! While I am hardly a frugal person, the thought of cutting corners on food seems so wrong to me!

  6. LGS – Does your wife do a lot of home decorating? Or shopping for your clothes? What do you fritter away too much money on? Just gadgets?

    J – Vacations are an excellent thing to spend money on, I think. They always say “spend your money on experiences rather than on things.” And ya, I certainly get the impression that if you’re a home-owner, that’s where most of your money goes, whether you like it or not.

    Stine – Hi Stine! Welcome to the blog. Do you buy new books or rare first editions or a mix of both? I read a lot, but I rarely want to read a book more than once, so I get a lot from the library. Yard sales, rummage sales and thrift shops are also great places to find some interesting and unusual books.

    Meanie – Ah – a meanie garage sale. I’ll have to stop by. You should cultivate a warm loving relationship with Jobthingy – she works at Pier 1.

    Daniel – Food doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, so they like to save money there and spend it on other things. The No Frills/No Name/Costco concept wouldn’t survive otherwise, right?

  7. You and I have similar buying habits-I buy most of my clothes second hand at consignment shops since A) I don’t earn tons of money and B) I am a big advocate of recycling.

    But I spend hundreds of dollars keeping myself, hubby and our beasts of burden well fed. I spend tons of cash on fruits, veggies and various tofu products and feed my animals high quality food. I also buy good soaps, shampoos, toothpaste and perfume.

    I’d rather be healthy and smell good then wear flashy clothes and living off box mac and cheese.

  8. I don’t understand how people can redecorate every couple of years. It took me over two years to decide what colour to repaint the dining room. I’d already have to be choosing the next colour. Which would be hell.

  9. I’m with you on the so-called decorating stuff. All our stuff is used or found or inherited. And our place is awesome.

    Our money goes to one thing. Eating and drinking. Okay, two things. But it’s always food — at the grocery store or sometimes at a restaurant — and it’s always booze — at the package store or often at a bar. It’s astounding, really, how much goes, how quickly.

  10. I spend the biggest chunk of my money on food, that’s for sure. It’s my top priority. I go shopping once a week and buy all the food we need for the week.

    A few times a year (when seasons change!) I buy some clothing for work. I try to buy high quality items so they last and I only buy black clothes so I can mix and match everything. The less I have to think about it, the better!

    The rest of my money goes for experiences like travel or going to see bands play, or for boring things like my student loan, car payments, and whatever needs to be done on the house that week.

    Oh and dog food! Lots and lots of dog food.

  11. Being a starving artist, who is currently raising three grandsons, guess where our money goes: Yup clothing, school fees and food for those boys. I can get a lot of my clothing at Good Will, but they never seem to have the boys sizes. I buy what I can on sale.

    We do buy generic food and try it, carefully reading the labels, but there are just some things that do not work generic, like Tomato soup. Vegetables at the discount stores suck! We try to grow our own but this year the nights were too cold so that did not work.

    My house is trash right now and will be until the boys move out and since the 22 year old just moved back in, sans any clothing that is presentable, that’s not happening in the near future. He just found a job so that should help.

    If I had the money it would go to Books, love to find them at the half price book store, and art supplies. You can never have enough sketch books or pencils, paint and brushes.

  12. Books – Some day I am going to be living in a tent in the yard because the books have taken over the house. Beyond that, I am pretty frugal; I buy good but seldom and wear the same clothes until they fall off me. I do buy the best food I can find, but (blush) buy out of season treats, like berries, even though I feel guilty.
    The biggest difference between my generation (raised by Great Depression adults) and later ones is, I think, credit. We buy with cash or we don’t buy, except for mortgages. We pay off the credit cards at the end of the month, always. We sit on little nest eggs until they hatch. We save string, elastic bands, and other silly things. I think it is the ultimate sin to throw out food – and all of this was what my mother did.
    But, for many years I waited on calls from the library for long desired books. When I got a bit of spare cash, I bought the paperback aftermarket copies of books I loved. Since we became financially secure, I buy new, beautiful hardcovers when they first come out. Big indulgence but it makes me awfully happy.

  13. I’ve lived in this house for 10 years and we have never decorated. The curtains that are up came with the house. There are many lights in the house that are just bare bulbs because I can’t be bothered to buy lampshades. Nothing matches anything else and I don’t care. I do, on the other hand, own an obscenely huge number of books.

  14. I think everyone has a shopping weakness. I’m quite cheap too about most things, but the one thing I have a weakness for is books, and paper products in general. I love pretty greeting cards and wrapping paper and pretty paper bags. And I’d easily go bankrupt buying books if only Sir Monkeypants didn’t force me to use the library.

  15. I’m similar: I spend most of my money on fresh and prepared food (or amortized gadget expenses), and most of the rest is money not earned so that I can spend my time on things I like to do. I can’t imagine spending $60-$100 in one night doing anything, much less on transitory entertainment.

    But I’ve stopped going to thrift stores because I’m too picky (I only buy new clothes a couple times per year, coincidentally when stuff is on sale)

    As for yard sales, I generally don’t find them too useful, particularly since I’m no morning person. If I want something, it’s something I can’t get used (like bike shoes), or something I can make, or something I can find for free on the curb or within my circle of friends. My place is filled with usable stuff I’ve found (and have absolutely no use for) with which to barter.

    – RG>

  16. Hi there,

    I completely agree with you. For me, spending money in food is investing in health. The rest is not important.

    This is the first time I comment here, so hello!

    You have a nice blog!


  17. Hannah – If only we had a Frenchy’s west of the maritimes. These are the thrift clothing shopper’s heaven. We used to do daytrips with a gang, rental van, off to a bunch of Frenchy’s in one day. Brief stop for lunch. Ah…good times.

    Jazz – Do people actually redecorate every couple of years? I wouldn’t even know where to begin choosing colours. I don’t really care. Sometimes I find a painting or something that I like to look at and I stick that on the wall. That’s pretty much the extent of my decorating.

    Ellie – Food & drink. If you have enough of that (especially the latter) who cares what the house looks like, right? And how much fun can you have in a house that you’ve spent thousands of dollars on to make “perfect”?

    J -Along with sucking up a lot of my money, food shopping also takes up a lot of my weekend. I wish I could do it all in one go, but I always end up going to half a dozen different places to get all the stuff I want for the week. You must be very organized. I tried the black clothes thing for a while and it certainly still dominates my wardrobe, but I got bored. I DO like to think about clothes and what I’m wearing and to put together some interesting “looks”. I just don’t like to spend a lot of money on it

    Sheryl – What is it with everyone and their books? Do you re-read books? Because I never do, so I see no need to own them. Yes, there are a few books I own and have kept for a long time because they’re unusual or reference-related, but I’m happy to do my reading from the library or second-hand. If I had to purchase, new, all the books I read, I’d have been broke a long, long time ago.

    Mary – Again with the books! See my note to Sheryl, above. Explain the need to own a lot of books, please.

    Loth – So, along with cold toast, we also have a passion for home-decorating in common. Very nice! Some of our lights have bulbs that don’t even work!! It takes me forever to get around to replacing a light bulb sometimes because it seems like a home-repair project to me which involves setting aside time and planning and purchasing items (lightbulbs). Now that it’s heading toward winter and it’s dark almost the whole time I’m home, I think I might have to get to those burned out bulbs, though.

    Lynn – Yup, everyone with money has a shopping weakness anyway. What’s wrong with the library anyway? It has all the books you’d ever want to read and then some. Why do you need your own. I hope someone in this comment list explains it to me because I don’t get it. And I’m way, way too cheap to buy wrapping paper. I give naked gifts or maybe I’ll wrap them in a scarf or dish towel if appropriate.

    Grouchy – On the issue of transitory entertainment… is it not worth spending money on an “experience”? Something you’ll remember for a long time? I can’t bring myself to spend money on concerts or even movies anymore, but if we’re traveling I like to stay in a nice hotel and just once I would love to have the guts to spend the money to travel first class. Is that transitory entertainment or were you thinking of a night out drinking or something?

    Cornflake Girl – Hi and welcome to the blog. Thanks so much for leaving a comment. And you’re right. It’s a good way to put it — inventing in your health.

  18. I’m like you XUP, I pay more than many would consider frugal for good food (and beer, and festivals, and traveling – so I have something to blog about!).

    I don’t have a mortgage or a car, so I miss out on some things (like yard work and car repairs), but I get to live in different places, travel, and spend money on activities (and food) I enjoy.

  19. soul sister!

    yeah, things that go into or on my body are worth buying quality. i can’t bear cheap food, and it makes my body feel gross/tired/greasy/unpleasant so no, i will spend the money on food. i’m blessed with a low metabolism, so it doesn’t take much to feed me anyway – i may as well get the good stuff. i learned how desperate the situation is for someone who just burns a lot more calories than i do when i lived for 12 years with a man who seems to require three times the intake i do in a day. i feel sad for him, he really has to snack a lot on absolute garbage to get through the day. yuck.

    but yeah, clothes? knick-knacks? sentimental objects? no. i do buy nice kitchen things, when i need them, because i do a lot of cooking and having the right tools is important to my enjoyment. but i’m not a gadget freak. my garlic mincer is a chef’s knife, and my rice cooker is a pot with a lid. you know? most gadgets aren’t worth the space, and they’re only needed if you have no attention span or don’t want to learn to have one. and they’re a nuisance to clean.

  20. i would have to agree with you there XUP. i am one who will buy anything i can at thrift shops.

    i also tend to spend quite a bit of money on food, it seems. i love to cook, it’s relaxing for me when i have the time and love to cook good food. also, well, because we need to eat. i often buy and cook in bulk to save money and time. and with limited time, it’s the only way that i can have decent healthy food.

    but from time to time i tend to splurg on quality clothing, not to be mistaken with ‘brand name’ clothing. i like the materials of certain lines of clothing and the way they are put together. and for the most part, they last forever and tend to be a certain style and cut that stay in fashion for a long time.

    with respect to folks that spend every last dime of their paycheque on stuff for the home, sometimes i hear the same thing in my office. and the weird thing is that these are the very same folks that make the same salary or less than i, they have 3-4 hundred thousand dollar homes (which i do not), car payments (which i do not), daycare (which i do not) etc etc. and always dressed in the latest of styles.


    i simply wonder how the hell they do it!

  21. Well, honestly, the single item that I spend the most on is food. I accumulate T-shirts as gifts or as souvenirs but I still wear t-shirts from 15 years ago. I buy new office clothes once every two-three years. I bought 3 suits about 10 years ago and I think they will probably last me a lifetime.

    But when it comes to food, I will at least buy above average stuff and very little of the no-name brands, nowadays.

  22. XUP – on transitory entertainment: mainly consumables like alcohol. If I’m going out with friends, I might spend a bit of money on something, but generally $3.50 for a rented film is about the most I’ll spend on something. I don’t travel much unless it’s being paid for by work–even bus fare (like to visit my family in Nepean) is on the line between “want” and “need”.

    I tend to live by the saying “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall always be satisfied.”

    The less I have to deal with money, the better. In my crooked brain, spending money to be with friends (except for food) is like mixing business and pleasure, especially when there is so much that can be done for free or nearly free. To coin an extension to the common saying, “Money is no object with which to measure friendship.”

    – RG>

  23. I love to shop for home decorating items. Just love it. I have probably way too many accent pieces. I change them around for the seasons. It makes me happy to be surrounded by pretty things. I have a problem, I know. But I don’t spend tons of money on them because I don’t have it and would likely choke from panic at being in debt to get just the right window treatments.

    Now, as I was reading your first bit, what was going through my mind was “but you spend money on very good food”. Very good and tasty cheeses with excellent breads. I have learned the hard way that it is just not worth saving money on less than tasty food. Yesterday I spent 4.99 on a loaf of bread (by mistake) but it was so good, it is almost gone and I WILL return to the store to get more.

  24. I’m crazy frugal with almost everything. Our extravagances are travel and entertainment. If I’m going to a good show, I’m not happy just being there. I want really good seats. When I travel I want to stay in one of the top rated hotels. And if I go to a restaurant, I will not shy away from the pricier foods if they sound like what I want to eat. Of course, when I’m eating or sleeping or watching in these fine venues, I’m pretty sure I’m wearing the cheapest shoes and clothes in the building, but I don’t care: I’d rather pay for the experience than what I’m wearing while having it.

  25. Hobbies. Lately I’ve been going overboard on yarn and books, but sometimes it’s art supplies and books. Or tropical fish and books. Or organizing supplies and books.

    There are some things I buy only rarely, but insist on the very best quality I can afford. Footwear, for example. I love high-quality, well-built, comfortable, sexy hiking boots.

  26. Dave – So you only eat, drink and have fun for the sake of the blog? Man, you are dedicated. There should be a special blogging award for that.

    Hallie – You know it’s perfectly possible to snack and get loads of calories from healthy food, too, right? You should clue your friend in. And hey, I have the same garlic mincer and rice cooker!!

    Raino – Ya, everything about food is soul satisfying – from shopping/growing to preparing to cooking to eating. Okay the dishes afterwards aren’t so much fun, but I don’t even mind doing dishes. I can’t agree with you about the fine clothes lasting forever. I get bored way too quickly with clothes to want to wear them year after year. So, it’s just as well that I stay away from new clothes shops. But I do wonder, like you about people who seem to have unlimited money for all this stuff. Maybe they’ve inherited some or are really deeply in debt?? (PS: Have you quit blogging?)

    LGS: You wear the same suits for 10 years? Wow. That’s dedication. I get tired of clothes really quickly and like to have different things quite often. So, I just recycle. I give mine to friends or thrift shops and get different ones back from them. And so on and so on.

    Grouchy – The library has a fine collection of DVDs too now, so you don’t need to rent from Blockbuster. What a scam that is. They end up making hundreds of dollars off the same 20 dollar DVD. But anyway, yes, I agree that there is enough free stuff to do with friends that you don’t always need to spend tons of money. This is something I keep trying to impress upon my daughter, too since she and her friends always seem to need to blow a lot of money whenever they get together. Whatever happened to just “hanging out”??? Why do they always need to go watch something or see something or be entertained by something?

    Violetsky – Hey, it’s only a problem if you think it is, in which case you wouldn’t do it. What’s money for if not for things that make you happy? If accent pieces make you happy, go for it. And I’m glad you enjoyed my excellent bread and cheese. I do want to know how you accidentally buy 5 dollar bread??

    Geewits – I totally agree. When I travel I don’t want to slink around in some cheap motel and eat gas station sandwiches. I’d rather stay home in that case. And if I’m going to spend $100 to see a show, I might as well spend another $100 to actually be able to see it, right? Although I probably wouldn’t spend even $100 to see a show. It would have to be something really spectacular.

    Zoom – Ha ha..sexy hiking boots. You’ll have to show me sexy hiking boots. Although, I suppose it’s not the boots that makes one sexy anyway…it’s the person in them that makes the boots sexy, right? And, surprisingly, I HAVE noticed your passion for hobbies.

  27. I want some more fig and walnut bread and fancy cheese. I can’t remember the name of the bakery where you bought it. I think it had ‘Grace’ in the name.

    I love my thrift-shop finds. Thrift shopping gives you the thrill of the hunt without having to hurt any animals.

    I did paint my living room and bedroom a couple of years ago, but that was more about making the house *my* house when it wasn’t *our* house anymore than a redecorating for the heck of it thing. I do have some Christmas things that come out every year, but that’s about the extent of my repeated redecorating.

  28. I reread and reread books, both fiction and poetry. I also have a lot of reference books on sociology, social anthropology and biography. I don’ t watch TV, I don’t have much of a social life; my friends are always there on the shelves ready to tell me a story, inform me or distract me. My husband says he thinks I have reread Tolkein’s TLOTR maybe thirty times since he’s known me. Is this nuts? I don’t know. Is listening to the same symphony or taking a second walk on the same path nuts? In these examples the landscape changes with the season or the musicians give a different emphasis but the book never changes. I dispute that; a book that you are reading again changes with how you feel, why you are reading it (galloping through for the plot, savouring the language.)
    If I am sad, reading cheers me. If I am bored, reading distracts me. If I reread someone like Desmond Morris, I find something new every time.
    Poor reasons, but my own.

  29. I wouldn’t touch Blockbuster or Rogers Video with a 39 1/2 foot pole; I rent from a local, independent video store.

    I do do a lot of hanging out. But I am very goal-oriented (for example, I’m unable to go for a walk or a bike ride without having a destination).

    – RG>

  30. It becomes a problem when you run out of room and don’t want to move.

    As for the bread, easy – you pick up two different loaves to feel for freshness and in confusion put the wrong one back and don’t notice you bought the much more expensive one until after it is rung through.

  31. We are spending twins. I don’t invest a lot in my home and buy my clothing at thrift and discount stores. But food and personal care products – yes top quality. Only organic or all-natural, ethically-raised, responsible, top-quality food. And pure, not full of chemical crap for personal care stuff. I value those things highly and happily spend more on them.

  32. I spend alot on groceries and I would cut back in other areas before I would cut back on groceries (except for the amount of waste…I buy too much and we end up with some food that spoils which is a shame). I tend to think that it doesn’t matter if a watermelon is nine bucks in the winter if my kids will eat it and enjoy it. I’d much prefer to do that then spend $5 or $6 on junky cereal. Real maple syrup versus table syrup…it’s worth the price tag.

  33. Although I have a closet the size of most people’s guest rooms, and it’s full to the brim, that’s actually not my problem. 90% of my clothes and shoes are second-hand, so I feel okay about my little extravagance.

    I don’t care about price when it comes to food. My mother would go without fresh raspberries all winter because she can’t swallow the price, but I buy what I want, when I want it. We eat well.

    (Aside: Yes, I’m aware of the cost of shipping fresh raspberries to Canada in December. Don’t care. Eventually they won’t be available as shipping costs get higher, and I’ll do without then, and not until. [end rant] )

    I guess my personal extravagance is crafting supplies and tools. I try to just quilt/knit from stash, but sometimes I lack the discipline. Even at my most extravagant, I’m pretty modest. I love my money in the bank.

  34. I don’t care about price when it comes to food either. I enjoyed this post. My home is decorated with the things I love. I’ve spent money on a chair here and a sofa there, but the older I get the more

    I realize that travel is where I’d like to spend my money. This last year has been tough financially for me also. I miss my travel! That’s where I usually spend the extra. Going somewhere to visit folks I like or visiting some place I’ve never seen.

  35. Concerts, and family stuff.. books books books … music… but mainly on the boy. (Food food food…)

    We do the home furnishings but we tend to not do it often. (Right now we are doing the roof. Then probably new living room furniture. This stuff is looking ratty.)

    I do spend a fair bit on clothing but classic pieces I can get a few seasons out of… (we do suits at work, nothing worse looking than a cheap suit. And yes, I can tell.)

  36. I am not so sure that I am frugal as I like the thrill of the hunt when I want something for the shack. However curtains and all that, not so much. Once someone said I should get a bed skirt…I said, I don’t wear a skirt why would I ask my bed to? That was the last decorating hint I think I received.

  37. Alison – That was Grace in the Kitchen on Bank Street near Sunnyside. It looks like a kitchenware store, but in the back? Oh Mamma — breads, oils, vinegars, cheeses, coffee beans to mix and blend, all sorts of delicacies from around the world — the most amazing sweet butter from France. I really need to do an entire blog post on this place some time.

    Mary – No, not nuts at all. I can totally see where you’re coming from. I know plenty of people who re-read their books and love to have them close by like old friends.I HAVE re-read books, but I never enjoy them the second time.

    Grouchy – I knew you were going to say that about Blockbuster. I like having a destination when I walk, too. But not when I run – then I prefer to have no preconceived notions about how far or how long I’m going to be out there.

    Violetsky – And now you’re hooked on the good bread, right? Ah…it’s a slippery slope. In the grand scheme of things 5 bucks isn’t a lot of money. And think of how much pleasure you’re going to get from that loaf of bread every week.

    Kimberly – Yup, and if people come to visit and wonder why my place looks like a college dorm, I just fill them full of yummy food and intoxicating beverages until they stop wondering.

    Porter – Hi Porter! Welcome to the blog and thanks for the comment. We love maple syrup. too. If you go to the sugar bush in the spring you can often get good deals on giant jugs of the stuff — I especially like the dark which you can’t usually get in grocery stores.

    Susan – Money in the bank isn’t a lot of fun. It’s nice to have a bit for emergencies and to save for something special, but mostly it doesn’t do you much good in the bank. I also have way too many clothes – though I do cull very regularly and they are all from the thrift shops.

    LoLa – You can never go wrong spending money on seeing the world or seeing distant friends, that’s for sure. I don’t think a dinette suite brings you the same enjoyment as a weekend away skiing or something.

    Nat – You can tell what? That I look like a bag lady?? Fortunately I’ve never had to wear a suit to work. I don’t dress up well. No matter how expensive or well made, the tailored look doesn’t seem to suit me well.

    Cedar – A bedskirt ..ha ha ha. I can’t even imagine why anyone would tell you that. Do you have a lot of unsightly stuff under your bed? That’s hilarious.

  38. My friends have beautiful homes and generally, to have a beautiful home, you need to shop around for those home-decor items and whatnot names you mentioned at the beginning of the blog. It makes sense to me. One’s environment can really affect one’s perspective on life. So I “get” it.

    And I think that, likewise, they “get” me. If we didn’t spend so much on airline tickets, we’d have paid off our house by now. And with the airline tickets, come the unpaid time from work. We’re an international marriage. It’s part of the lifetime deal we’ve made. But we also try to travel to other places any chance we get too.

    But someone said to me once, “must be nice.” I was a bit speechless. Didn’t they notice that while I’ve never had a new car, he’s had several? That all our furniture and appliances (and I don’t even have a dishwasher! how crazy is that!) were hand-me-downs? That I lived in a tiny little house, while he lived in one twice the size? Oh, ya, and he doesn’t even have a mortgage any more.

    Everyone needs to pick their priorities in life and where people spend their money is often so enlightening. It perpetually fascinates me, actually.

  39. Julie – It seems to fascinate a lot of people judging by the amount of comments this post has gotten! I reckon I spend enough just to have a home that I’m rarely ever in without spending even more to splash it all out inside

  40. Xup…yeah well where else do you store your shoes and stuff in boxes that you never look at if not under the bed? It gets cleaned out under there a couple times a year. It’s like finding new stuff you never knew you had.

  41. At the moment, my food bill is second only to my mortgage payment —- but then, I have three teenagers and they are locusts.

    But I will never compromise quality for a few pennies when it comes to food. We are what we eat, and I refuse to fill my belly with the processed ‘convenience’ foods sold in the stores. There is, for instance, just one brand of sour cream that is just sour cream – the other five brands available at my grocery store are artificially thickened / textured / flavored / sweetened. WHY?? I am an avid (rabid?) label-reader.

    I decided long ago to be a thinking consumer, to avoid impulse purchases and to only shop at places that make me feel good about spending my money there (like independent / small businesses). We buy second hand items all the time, and I make a fair amount of things myself. Last night I canned up twelve pints of pears that I bought from a local farmer. Yum!

  42. We have similar values. Food no question is the thing I’m willing to shell out for – but because I avoid processed foods my budget seems really small compared to other families I know. Don’t you find that?

    My kids live in thrift store finds, and good quality boring but well fitting shoes – beach wear crocs notwithstanding. I will spend more for handmade clothes though…but my concept of “big spender” is different than other peoples – I got 8 shirts for the kids from a WAHM who custom made them (I picked the prints and colour combos) for 90.00 and they’ll be wrapped as gifts and doled out over the next year when appropriate.

    I don’t “do” dangerous chemicals or plastics so our bathroom is stocked with pricy organic no SLS shampoo and toothpaste and the like, but I make a lot of stuff too (body oil and scrub) so even that is less than a lot of people spend.

    The only time I roll my eyes is when I see people complaining about TAX ON SODA like it’s an attack to their ability to feed their family. Come on, that’s like saying the beer and smokes budget is part of your cost in feeding your family!

    I also wonder just what is in a can of tomato paste when it costs less to buy than to can myself?

  43. Oh yeah and my “hide the bill” weakness is books. I think that runs in the family.

    The library just doesn’t get them or I’m 12th on the waiting list *WHINE*

  44. Cedar – My bed doesn’t have any underneath space. It’s probably just as well.

    Wonky – Thanks for visiting the blog and leaving such a yummy comment. It’s been so long since I’ve canned anything and back home on the farm canning took up most of our summers and falls. Did you buy the pears straight from a farmer?

    Mudmama – I haven’t compared my grocery bill to other people’s. I know people who are happy to find 39 cent bread and who scour the city for discount milk. I don’t buy meat or processed/ready made foods, so I reckon I save there, but I spend it on “natural” foods and organic foods and fresh produce from the market which is really expensive sometimes. And, I can wait for the other 11 people to read the book before I get it rather than spend $20 -$30++ on a book I’ll probably only read once. I do buy a lot of cookbooks though…

  45. Oh I never buy books I’ll only read once – fiction I do at the library or thrift shops, I’m an information junkie – its HOW TO books (like cookbooks, craft patterns, reference guides) that I buy.

  46. I love a great deal and a good yard sale but I also love to buy all the matchy-matchy chachkis and little votive candles. And I do know what these words mean: finial, valance, accent piece, backsplash, casement, sconce and torchere. We’ve moved a lot and I really enjoy decorating all the homes and making them more personal. So where does all my money go? I like to spread the joy lol.

  47. @XUP – i know, it’s possible to get enough calories from cheap food … if you can cook. if you have not the skilz, you buy prepared food because that’s what you can manage.

    i have a hard time envisioning just not having intuitive cooking skills, so i think about it like i think about automotive maintenance for myself. i’m sure i could learn, i suppose, but since i have no aptitude and no interest, it doesn’t seem worth the effort i’d pour into it. we all pay, in some way, for that which we’re not good at doing for ourselves.

  48. Mudmama – Ah, well that’s very different. I’m with you on those book purchases then… except for the craft pattern ones, of course.

    Charlene – Ah, good for you! Spread the love and cash around. Very wise.

    Hallie – You don’t have to cook snacks. You were saying your friend has to snack on crappy food because he needs so many calories and I was just saying there are healthy, calorie-rich foods available, too. But they aren’t usually cheap, it’s true. I have a hard time understanding how people can just not know how to cook, but you’re right, it must be a matter of just not being that interested. Except that if you love to eat, how could you not be interested in preparing food? Oh well, just one small way in which we chef types can dazzle others. And really, don’t we all need the ability to dazzle once in a while?

  49. i have no idea where the money goes. well, that’s a lie. i do. it goes to allergy medication so i can live peacefully with my critters.

    i’m not big on home furnishings either. i tried to be when we first moved into our house but i just couldn’t do it. i can only “decorate” if i am inspired to in the moment. i prefer grocery shopping and i too spend extra on the cleaning and personal effects b/c of the chemical issue.

    peas in a pod we are. lets get married!

  50. I’m enjoying this conversation!

    I think our big spending comes on food. I am picky about good bread and produce. We sometimes splurge on sushi and I have no qualms about that. Not to mention decent chocolate. But… I’m still wearing Tshirts from 10-15 years ago, most clothes are from clothing exchanges. Almost all of my furniture are solid thriftstore finds, and I have never put up a curtain on my front door window (nearly 10 years with a piece of cloth pinned to the rod). On the other hand, we’ll spend significant money to get a something that will give good value. A good mid-range camera that lasts for years, a good mid-range car that we’ll drive into the ground, solid shoes, etc. This always involves a significant amount of research first. But then we’ll spend that chunk of money and feel good about it because it wasn’t The Best, but it was the best for us (which includes not breaking the bank).

    Speaking of those flexible splurges, our semi/formal wedding was … unusual. I did my own flowers and food, scrounged glass plates from thriftstores for the reception, sewed my own cloth cocktail napkins (which we are still using), and made our own invites, programs and favors. Then I blew a 5th of the budget on a custom wedding dress I could use for dancing!

    Other big spending areas are dance weekends (a few times a year) and upgrading our camping/backpacking gear (every other year when we take a big trip). Those are more experience-related expenditures.

  51. Leah – It would be fun to be married to you, but you will need to divorce your husband first or we will go to jail for bigamy and that won’t be any fun at all.

    Marie – Thanks for finding my blog and your awesome comments! Weddings are a huge money grab from what I can see. Friends and relatives have gone into years of debt for that one day. It’s nuts. Why start your married life with a big debt when you can have a fun day for way less money and save your bucks for a trip or a house or something.. Sounds like you did it the smart way.

  52. XUP, it’s great finding you!
    Yeah, we were trying to avoid the going-into-debt thing. The expectations and prices one encounters in wedding planning are insane. After the initial sticker shock, we reevaluated every item on our want list and managed our total wedding cost for less than half of what a local caterer quoted us for catering finger food for 100. That a a testament to both our determination and what people charge for catering these days. Or those days.