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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Summer Budgeting

The other day, I wore my new boots. I received many compliments, and, since my reputation precedes me, some questions: Did you get those at a thrift store? Uh no, from a fancy catalog, over $100, even on sale.

One of my students was shocked. How come you brought us recycled folders so we could save 25 cents, and then you spend $100? That doesn't quite make sense, since I didn't save the quarter: each of my students did. But it does make karmic sense: how come I'm so obsessed with recycling folders (even taking discards from other teachers) and then am willing to buy the occasional pricey item? I guess my thrift is both karmic and pragmatic. I just have all these pennywise habits and it would be too much work to change them.

Unlike many bloggers, who exhort us to attend to the big expenses and not to the little ones, I believe that all the little stuff adds up. The big expenses are often ones over which we have little control.

When I think about my summer expenses, I am relieved that I've been practicing the little frugalities.

ITEM: Each summer, we spend about $6000.00 visiting parents, one on the west coast, one on the east coast. These are not fancy vacations: we have 4 plane fares plus car rentals on each end. We will continue to pay for our children's tickets even after they finish college.

ITEM: This summer, we plan a trip to Nantes, which will probably cost around $5000.00

Those last two are built into our yearly budget, though we haven't been to Europe for a few years. $11,000 on teaching salaries necessitates taking a pennywise approach for the rest of the year.

ITEM: This summer Miss Em wants to go to Italy to study art history. Cost is $4300 plus airfare. She will get $2000 from the scholarship she got as a freshman. Still, very expensive.

When I set out these numbers, I am shocked. In truth, I can hardly see how we do it. Many people assume we receive handouts from our families. I suppose our parents would help out if we asked, but we don't.

When I set out the numbers, I am also happy. Isn't it amazing how all the little frugalities add up to big treats?

In fact, I already have my Walgreens shop for tomorrow all planned: I will be buying peanut butter, honey, and eggs. Check your paper tomorrow. All those items will be verrrrry cheap.

Have you saved for anything big with little frugalities?


Marcela said...

Yes. That is in fact how we save money , which we then use for travelling. We are frugal travelers but indulge in one or two things we like. We never felt we were missing on anything.
One big money saver is this: no take out. We cook all our meals according to a weekly menu. No food is thrown, and we get to eat healthy, good quality food.

Shelley said...

Always! That's the whole point, in my opinion. I paid off my houses so I could retire early, a very big deal. I still save to make sure I had enough cash until I can draw my pensions. After that, spending money consciously has become a habit, one I hope never to break.

FB @ said...

I'm the same way. I indulge in what I find important and save on the rest that isn't. Besides, recycling is good karma.

Duchesse said...

I find the student's remark a little confused. Your $100 boots do not seem expensive to me, as I am sure you bought a good pair that you will wear and enjoy for years. Boots from a thrift store would be cheaper, but you have to find ones you like, in your size, in good repair. Unlike a folder, one size does not fit all.

I tend to be more careful on the big items (used car, drive for 15 years!) but also do not do expensive coffee/treats or buy luxury cosmetics.

Anonymous said...

We saved up for a year's sabbatical. It was wonderful knowing that we could make it the entire year even if no additional fellowships came through for me, and with DH taking unpaid family leave. The year was so wonderful that DH was on board to go into hypersaving mode to allow us to take future opportunities (possibly even to shoot for financial independence). Time and freedom are worth super-frugality in other areas.

Our tomorrow post is a little homage to hypersaving.

Anonymous said...

Ha, we are penny-wise too and it DOES make for some wonderful treats. Will you be able to blog from Nantes?

Marcela said...

I just saw this and it thought it could interest you:

Frugal Scholar said...

@Marceal--I'm a cook-at-home person too. My son has started to go to some very nice restaurants--he saves up for a treats.

@Shelley--You are truly impressive! So true about developing habits.

@FB--I must have lots of good karma because I've recycled more than 1000 folders.

@NM--Look forward to the post--love the term hypersaving.

@Duchesse--I think any treats are possible. We used to buy very good coffee, for instance. And right--shoes are difficult at thrifts as are jeans.

Frugal Scholar said...

@nm--oops--So impressive to save for a year's sabbatical.

@Terri--I hope so; it is so much fun.

@Marcela-thanks once again! That's the title of one of my favorite childhood books as well.