Friday, February 15, 2008

Wasted money hurts

One of my first posts was on a poor money choice I made. This was a small thing in the scheme of things, but it was emblematic to me that I did not weigh my choices and decide on frugality. It was not simply paying a few cents more per gallon of gas or that fact that I ate out. It is the realization that the convenience of takeout pizza does not trump taste and laziness dictating not turning left and already having the gas in my car.

I found I have several leaks in my spending plan. The main one--well-intentioned but seriously underestimated--is Frugal pursuit. Yes, I am the big leak in my spending. It is not that I spend too much outside a category although there are some I abuse more than others. I buy something with the best of intentions and realize it does not fit or it really does not work in my house or something similar later. While 15 cents here, 35 cents there is not a huge problem (I have wasted greater quantities of money), it still bothers me because I could have added that money to savings.

My recent trip to the thrift store yielded a plastic container to add to my collection and two undergarments. The stupid part: I looked at the tag on one garment thought "hey, that's a deal", found another garment, did not look at the price tag and bought two undergarments. Turns out the second one was 2.5 times the price of the first and neither fit me. That was a waste of $6.40.

An earlier thrift store trip, I found a shower curtain I had been looking at for years thinking it was cute. I bought it even though I have a perfectly good shower curtain at home that works well in my bathroom and I really like. I have no idea what I will do with this second shower curtain. It is not large enough to cover the window in my spare room. To compound my silliness, I found the matching wallpaper border and bought that. It likely will be enough for my bathroom but I have no plans to change the walls or curtain in there. My foolishness cost me $6.85. The only way to redeem this purchase: find a second matching shower curtain before I finally sew curtains for the spare room. Having to spend money to justify a purchase--ridiculous!

I have talked myself out of things. Currently, I am talking myself out of free food I never passed up before. However, the consequences of foolishness is immediate (my health) so it makes it easier (never easy) to restrain myself. With spending, I know I have enough money but these small purchases add up. That is money that could be put toward other things, and maybe that is my error.

My spending plan is rock solid, but other than making sure money goes into savings, I have no short-term goals. I talk about what steps I want to take in my life next like purchase another rain barrel for my house, but I have not taken action. Having a specific item like the rain barrel or task like remodeling my bathroom would help me weigh my choices. Do I want a second shower curtain or part of the cost of a new bath light fixture? Do I need two more undergarments or would I rather water my garden?

To be fair, I did restrain myself from buying additional wallpaper border for my bedroom. It was a wonderful pattern but there was no guarantee it would cover my walls nor match my paint. Obviously, I am not perfect and I want to do better. The less money I spend now, the better my long-term prospects are. These small missteps bother me because I do not want to be either penny foolish or pound foolish. On the whole, I make more good decisions than bad, but there is room for improvement.

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