Life of Luxury

The news seems determined to make me panic about ye olde finances day in and day out. However, as a government employee, I’m pretty confident layoffs are not a risk I’m facing. I’m almost 30 years away from retirement eligibility, so stock market losses in my retirement account are not big cause for concern. And as a humble bureaucrat, I don’t have untold wealth in the market anyway. I take the bus, so gas prices going up and down don’t really affect me. And, I’ve stalled out on house shopping, so as long as my landlord holds onto my townhouse, I’m not worried about housing.

So, here I am, driven to the edge of fiscal panic by the news but with nothing to do about it. So what I’ve started doing is worrying about cutting back on the things I think of as luxuries. The periodic taxi rides around town when I miss my bus or am too lazy to wait in the cold for the next one. The vast quantities of takeout that crosses my doorstep. The bulk piles of books I tend to order when a weekend looks like it may be a little slow. “On Demand” tv movies at $3.99 a pop. And yes, even my beloved bourbons. The little luxuries really add up, or rather subtract up from my bank account.

The problem? How to cut back without feeling deprived. I know I should be all adult and feel a sense of accomplishment at saving money rather than spending it. But really, I like to think of all the little things as my rewards for working long hours and paying all my own bills on time (mostly). So, here I am, dangling in a middle ground- still making unneccessary expenditures, but trying to make less of them.

I’m not much of a scrimper, but I’m trying. But I am weak, dear internet. I am so, so weak. And Etsy keeps taunting me with fabulousness….

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13 Comments

Filed under Daily Life, Soul Searching

13 responses to “Life of Luxury

  1. Get some financial planning software and track your expenses for a month. Every dollar. It’s tedious but it will open your eyes and help you make choices that don’t make you feel deprived. For instance, now I borrow books, cds and dvds from the library, and leave my credit cards at home.

  2. I hear you in a big way.

    This week, my paycheck was accidentally spent before it even reached my account (on nothing frivolous, just typical bills) so I’ve been left with $0 to spend this week. So far this has meant…

    1) Filling up a water bottle from the tap 3-4 times a day, rather then buying Diet Coke and coffee at work. (My boss bought me a coffee yesterday and I could have kissed him)
    2) Eating left over Halloween candy that my coworkers have hanging around, rather then buying lunch. Not as healthy as #1!
    3) Trying like hell to make 1 pack of cigarettes last more then a week!
    4) Ramen noodles.

    I’m also favoriting lots of peoples etsy sites so I can go back once I get paid! Do you sell on Etsy too?

  3. I do not understand the buying of books on a regular basis, to be honest. The library is so totally FREE! And, at many, you can borrow movies too.

    Or get Netflix for like $10 or $15 a month and have movies delivered.

    I fear sounding like a parent saying this, but your reward for paying all (or most) of your bills on time is your credit score.

  4. I vote library! Also, I use a few little tricks…like saving all my change to save a little at a time. Sometimes I’ll have all the 5’s I get for a month in order to make myself cut back.
    I’m struggling a little currently, due to the holiday shopping season, but I think I know how to handle that. I’m going to redeem my Discover card cash back and do as much amazon shopping as possible!

  5. I think the thing to do is cut back a little, but not too much. If you only cut out one of the things you mentioned, you’ll still have all the others so you won’t feel deprived, but you’ll still save some money. And then once you’re used to doing without the one thing, or doing it less often, you can cut back on another thing. And so on, gradually.

  6. i should do a PSA for the library right now. i really love it. and then i’m happy i didn’t shell out a dime for tori spelling’s horrible book (not worth a dime, btw). i recently had to have an intervention with myself about etsy. there is nothing on etsy that i actually need. though there are a kagillion things on etsy i want…i can’t look.

  7. I’ve never been to Etsy. Being on the bottom of the totem pole in a company that can’t decide if it’s prospering or dying, I’m going to stay away from that site for the time being. Willpower only stretches so far.

    I’m a spender. I mean, I save and all but every chance I get I spend. It’s a good thing I live with my grandmother.

  8. I have to admit, despite all of your persuasive comments, giving up buying books will be the hardest for me. I underline my books, I fold the corners down, I organize them lovingly by topical categories, I re-read them hundreds of times. I love books.

    In fact, when I moved to Pittsburgh from Atlanta, I removed clothes from my car to fit more books in. When I ran out of room for boxes, I tossed them on top of the boxes in the car by the armful.

    You can take my coffee and my taxis and my movies and even my takeout, but you will have to pry my books out of my cold, dead hands.

  9. rebecca

    One thing that has helped me recently, is the thought that I am not imposing a permanent moratorium on any category of purchases (for me right now it’s shoes and clothing), but merely postponing purchasing those items. It makes me feel way less deprived when I don’t buy a pair of shoes I want — because there will always be cute shoes around, and I can go shopping and buy them in 6 months! (or at some point in the future anyways!) Maybe that would help with the books — you don’t have to permanently give up buying them — maybe just for 3 months or so and then see how you feel.

  10. GYL

    Argh – blasphemy! I too have to buy books. I will make a foray into a library on a rare occassion but the prob is, if I like the book I have to buy it. So I cut out the middle man and just buy. (And oddly enough, it is rare that I buy a crap book) But since I have so many books now, I am re-reading. At the mo it is Gregory Maguire’s Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. Bloody awesome.

    How much is shipping from Australia? Maybe we can do a temporary book swap 😉

  11. I know you love books as much as I do, but I committed to using the library in these lean times and it is pretty awesome. You can always buy copies of the ones you must add to your collection – but after reading it.

  12. mmmkay. so the library is out. I toss all my change in a jar and cash it in to buy a savings bond. You can buy a $50 savings bond for $25. I have about $2,000 in savings bonds now, and it was painless. I leave the highest balance credit card at home. I also eat at home more; luckily I love to cook. $25 on the right groceries can go a long way and you don’t have to eat like a refugee.

  13. elewinnek

    My mother’s policy is to buy only the books she knows she wants to read twice – which mostly requires buying only the books she has already read. I’m not quite that good, but I aspire to be.
    I also recommend hulu.com — it’s got free on-demand movies and tv shows.

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