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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Danger's gone. . . .

My friend left this afternoon, and as expected, the shopping and spending (hers, mostly) was a sight to see. Her current 'obsession' (other than bags, shoes, and makeup) is costly fabric, with which she's making these amazing little boxes. She buys cardboard boxes at a craft store, then covers them with velvet and silk fabric, embellishing with fancy ribbon. The piece de resistance is a flower made of ribbon, that she affixes to the top of the box. The boxes, while beautiful, are created with high-end materials, and are none-too-cheap to make. Not exactly a frugal past-time. I have to say, I did accompany her to a few fabric and notions shops in the area, and am guilty of spending some of my own hard-earned cash on pretty velvet---most of which I'll probably never use. Here's an accounting of the money I spent while my houseguest was in town (three days):

Dinner: $62.75
Velvet fabric: $16.50
Other craft supplies: $4.48
Pedicure: $26.00
Breakfast: $17.40
Movie: $5.50

Since I rarely carry cash, I used my debit card to take care of our dinner the first night, and also paid for fabric, for which my friend was going to reimburse me. Instead, she covered my drinks/appetizer/dinner and lunch the next day. At which time I felt that I then owed her money, and bought her breakfast. Now, I have no idea whether I spent more or she did---we didn't keep a close accounting of this. Next time I have a visitor, I'll do several things differently:

1. Save for the visit: I spent roughly $130 over three days---money that I could have had in savings, since I've known since December that this particular friend planned to visit. Had I saved $50 a month up until now, I would have had this money set aside, rather than taking it out of my checking account.

2. Carry cash: this will help me to pay for my share, rather than coming up with elaborate schemes in which I pay for dinner, the friend pays for lunch, and no one knows how much either owes.

3. Keep a close accounting of who paid for what: when spending time with a heavy shopper/spender, be sure that close attention is paid to what you owe---it may seem nit-picky at the time, but it can save money in the long run.

4. Don't get carried away by someone else's obsession: it was fun to shop for and buy fabric---I like being crafty. However, I have neither the money nor the time to be searching out high-end fabric and then sitting around and making pretty boxes. There are only so many people in my life who would enjoy a useless item (beautiful or not) like that.

There is some good news: I still can't find my credit card. Therefore, everything I spent came out of my checking account. This forced me to think about my purchases---I have a feeling that if I had been carrying a credit card, my purchases would have been even greater than they were.

I was happy to see my friend---we had a good visit. But it also reminded me of why I'm living a more frugal life. I don't need as much stuff as I used to think I did. Those pretty boxes are great! But they'll sit in my house and gather dust for about a year or two until I can find a way to get rid of them. Better not to have them in the first place!


Yvette said...

It is a challenge being frugal during times like this. Sounds like you struck a good balance. I've worked a fudge factor into my budget when spending time with friends/family, realizing they are important to me through good times and bad. Sacrificing relationships is not worth paying off my debt 6month early. I have been open with my friends about my financial goals and a few have even jumped on the band wagon! Had to laugh at the velvet purchase - it happens - maybe you'll figure out something to do with it (holidays?) or give it to your friend as a gift. Stay on track - weaving off course a bit is normal. I started on the same road as you, for the same reasons, 15 months ago and I'm astounded over how much debt I've paid off and how much I've saved/invested by being a conscious of how I spend. Being aware of something you didn't have to buy is better than not realizing it at all.

Finally Frugal said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Yvette! I'm kicking myself over the velvet, but I like your idea of 'gifting' it back to my friend at a later date!

I love hearing from people who are on their own journey to debt repayment and financial security. . . .it helps me on those days (like today) when I feel that I'll never "get there".

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