A Little Economy, A Little Splurge

                                    This photo a good example of my splurge/thrift notions
                                      Thrift store treasures and new purchases co-mingle

A while back reading Cranford, I came across a few paragraphs in which Mary noted the strange economy of various households in Cranford.  It explained the scene in the series where Miss Mattie notes to her sister Deborah that the candle had burned down below the unlit one on the mantel.  Apparently the two sisters preferred to have their neighbors think that they burned two candles each night.  In fact they did...but only one at a time, lol.  They burned one at time and kept them as nearly even as possible by putting out the other when it was below the level of the second candle, at which point they used the flame to light the second candle, and put out the first.

Mary went on to note the little economies other neighbors made as well.  I was amused reading this account but all too aware that this is true of many households even 200 years later.  For instance in my household, I choose to wash and rinse used zippered bags.  I tend to use a tube of toothpaste and a bar of soap until there is nothing left.  Mama runs a rather liberal household budget overall but she too has her little economies that she practices.  She will not, for instance, pay anyone to cut her hair but relies upon courtesy cuts by her daughter in law.   Since Deb is not a professional hairdresser but has a talent for cutting hair (she also trims the Spitz, Alaska, each summer) this works well for Mama.

Granny and Grandmama both had a tendency to turn off the hot water heater, especially in summer and turn it on only when a bath or hot water for dishes was wanted.  Granny often skipped turning it on and just heated her water atop the stove.  And both of them saved the dishwater to pour over potted plants or down a row of the garden.

Of course, we all have our little economies, those things that go the extra mile in saving a few pennies here and there.  But odds are we all have our little splurges as well.

I thought of this yesterday when I was organizing the silverware drawer in the kitchen.  You see, I have about three different sets of silverware, none of them complete at present.  Two are rather inexpensive sets of stainless.  One is a quality stainless and those things have been in use for 30 odd years now.  And you know what?  I'll be passing them on to one of the children because they are heirloom quality stainless.  Now when I bought those place settings I purchased one every other month.  It took two months to pay for one place setting.  In two years time I finally collected 12 settings.  It was a splurge way back then, but looking back over the usage I've gotten and the fact that I shall be passing them on...Well is it really a splurge?  Or an investment? The two lesser quality sets  of stainless were gifts.

As I worked yesterday, counting spoons and forks and knives I realized that over the years I have 'lost' one full place setting and have 11 pieces of half  the items and 8 pieces of the other.  I'm trying to decide whether I shall replace the missing pieces or simply set aside the 8 place settings and purchase a new set of good quality stainless.  John would prefer a simpler pattern than the one I chose long ago...I could sell the remaining pieces as replacement pieces.  I'll have to think this one over and check the pattern line to see if anything else is suitable.  

Other areas where I make a splurge: books of course, though I do tend to buy used since I love authors who are no longer in print and flowers.  As you know, I usually purchase fresh cut flowers each grocery shop.  Here of late I've bought herbs.  The cilantro died immediately (I've heard it was fussy and but it did fare well over winter so I'll try again then), but the mint and basil are growing very well indeed.  This pay period I mean to buy six packs of perennials to plant in my pots for deck and porch.  And we can't forget my thrift store habit.  Every item on my dresser in the photo above came from a yard sale or thrift store.

Mama has various splurges that she makes: she likes to read and so has a lot of books and magazines that she buys each month.    Granny tended to buy books (she joined several book clubs) and the best perfume.  No man made scents for her.  Only real perfume would do and she happily paid more than she'd pay for electricity each month on a single bottle.

Grandmama's splurge was on really good shoes.  She bought Naturalizer and Aigner and other well known brands.  This was in part due to her narrow foot which was hard to fit and these manufacturers carried her size.  These shoes were strictly for wearing when she left home.  Around the house she tended to wear the least expensive tennis shoe.  She also purchased quality coats.  Those two items were her splurges.

Thinking it over yesterday I decided that truly the frugal life is really about balance.  We save in areas that matter little to us in order to have a bit more for the areas that give us pleasure.  What are your little economies and splurges?


BelleDiabolique said...

One of the places where we splurge more than anywhere else is in our food particulars. I don't buy a lot of pre-processed stuff, but there are a few things we use regularly that store brand just won't do.

Mayonnaise! We don't use enough of it to justify making it fresh, since it spoils quickly. But when we get it, we like the good stuff.

B is a bit particular about his peanut butter. He prefers Peter Pan, but won't turn down Jif. I agree that the store brand peanut butters just don't taste nearly as good (probably because they have way less sugar LOL). But good grief!! The last time I bought peanut butter is was nearly $6 for a regular sized jar. Before that, I spend $8 on a double pack of family sized jars!!

Lastly, coffee. We are coffee snobs when we can help it :-P I won't turn down coffee in general (although hospital coffee and gas station coffee is usually pretty vile). B swears he won't drink normal brands (like Folgers and Maxwell House). And there is something to be said for the flavor of better roasts, though one you get up past a certain level, I honestly can't tell the difference anymore.

I would say that books are a splurge area, but I don't know if it's really a splurge when I usually try to limit myself to one book order a year. I'll order 4 or 5 books, usually before they're released, and they'll get delivered throughout the coming year as they hit shelves. It's kind of like getting a new book every other month, but I don't have to go get it and there's a pre-order discount ;-)

Melanie said...

I will easily forego new clothes (instead, I buy them at Goodwill) for a pair of good shoes, like your grandmama. My feet hurt in cheap shoes and they wear out in one season anyway. If I buy a quality pair of leather shoes, my feet feel good and the shoes last for years. Savings in the long run!

Like you, one of my little splurges is books. I never pay full price though. I either get them from library book sales, used book stores, Goodwill, or from private sellers on half.com.

Lorita said...

I also wash the zippered bags unless they are really gross or held raw meat. My kids chide me about it every time they see me do it.

As far as shoes, I buy the better namebrand athletic shoes for wearing every day as they give me better support. I buy cheaper dress shoes as I don't wear them very often, nor try to walk very far in them. Although right now I have a pair of Calvin Klien dress flats, but I bought them in the bargain corner of a big DSW store, at the insistance of my daughter - the clothing label snob of the family. But she has to watch her money closer now as well, so finds the labels in discount and thrift stores.

I am a Jif peanut butter fan, but now that PB has gotten so expensive I have switched to store brands when they are on sale, cuz I need peanut butter. The prices are really crazy though.

Like your silverware splurge there are many things that I think it is better to buy quality over price as it ends up being cheaper in the long run. It is just really hard to think of specifics right now.

Deanna said...

Like your Granny, I buy expensive French perfume (Shalimar) and wear it every day. I'm not sure whether my Birkenstocks would be considered a splurge or not. They are initially expensive but I've been wearing this pair almost daily for about 5 years - I've heard they can last with repairs for 30 years. But I suppose our biggest splurge is on travel. We take two trips to New Orleans each year and at least a couple of weekends at a fancy hotel in Oklahoma City for birthdays or anniversaries.

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