Don’t Set Your Happiness Budget Too Low

I was raised by a very frugal woman to be extremely tight with money, Modern Philosophers.

Don’t get me wrong, this philosophy has certainly come in handy at times.  It helped me to put myself through college on only a busboy/waiter’s salary.  It allowed me to keep The House on the Hill after my divorce even though, at the time, I made way less money than my ex-wife.

They say that money can’t by happiness, but it can purchase things that make life more pleasant and its stresses easier to handle.

But because I was brought up to be a tightwad, I not only learned how to properly pinch a penny, but I also learned to get by without so many things I wanted.

money, life, Modern PhilosopherIt was this mentality that kept me behind the wheel of Zombie Car way past its expiration date because it wasn’t logical to trade a vehicle that was paid in full for monthly lease payments.

Luckily, the Fates intervened.  Zombie Car would not rise again, and I was forced to get a new ride.  Now I am able to drive in snow without the paralyzing fear that plagued me for over a decade.  The peace of mind alone has been worth the monthly car payment.

And that’s what my stepmother’s lessons never taught me:  It isn’t all about the money.

So many more things need to be factored into the equation, and the bottom line cannot be determined simply by your bank account balance.

Despite this epiphany, I have not changed my ways.

I still think about purchasing the MLB Package every season so I can watch my beloved Yankees, but then I convince myself there are enough games on cable that it would be a waste of money to pay for the plan as well.

I’ve needed a new laptop for years, but can’t bring myself to pull the trigger.  I am proud to say, however, that I have gone to Best Buy and looked at my options.

Before you write me off completely, I did finally splurge on a big ticket item.  New windows are being installed on the first floor of The House on the Hill this month.

money, life, Modern PhilosopherOf course, this is going to be expensive, and Frugal Austin has demanded that I do something to help defray the cost.  Because it has been burned into my brain that I should feel guilty if I buy myself nice things.

I calculated that the one way to find some money in my budget would be by cutting back on what I buy at the grocery store.  As a result, for the past two months, I’ve trimmed my grocery bill from $100 a week to under $75.

This morning, I realized I was almost out of my allergy medicine at a time when my allergies have been going haywire.  My grocery list had already been finalized, and I knew there was no way to keep it under $75 if I bought the meds.

What to do should not have even been a question.  I’m miserable when my allergies are on a rampage.  My eyes itch, my nose runs, and I can’t sleep.  And yet, I stood in the medication aisle of the grocery store for way too long debating whether I could afford the $10 for the generic allergy medication.

How had I allowed myself to be brainwashed to a point where I thought that spending $10 on something for my health would be an extravagant expense?

Needless to say, I finally came to my senses and bought the allergy meds.  I also made one more lap around the store and bought a few treats that will come in handy this week while I’m on vacation and enjoying the game.

Ironically, I still spent less than $100.

At least I know what’s wrong with me, and that’s half the battle.  Please don’t be like me.  Don’t set a budget on items that bring you joy.

Splurge on yourself once in a while.  It might leave you will less in your back account, but there’s so much more to life than money.

And never forget: You can’t take it with you.

About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
This entry was posted in Humor and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Don’t Set Your Happiness Budget Too Low

  1. lydiaschoch says:

    I grew up in a frugal family, too. Those lessons really stick with you in adulthood!

    May allergy season end for you soon.

  2. davidprosser says:

    If I can’t take it with me, I’m not going.

  3. kristianw84 says:

    It’s hard to retrain our minds from thoughts that have been instilled in us since childhood. You’ll more than likely save money in energy costs with new windows, too. It might not be much, but every little bit helps.

    I’m glad you purchased the allergy medicine, it is definitely needed this time of year. I’m also glad you treated yourself. You deserve it!

  4. Ocean Bream says:

    I grew up in a frugal family too. It helped pay for our university, and it taught us such excellent life lessons. That being said, I do like spending money as an adult. If I make enough money, I will certainly spend it after I have put some aside for savings. I will buy things that give me joy and pay for expensive gifts for people I love. Don’t know why that is, but my frugal parents think I am a spendthrift. Haha. I am glad you decided $10 dollars for your health meds was worth it! But I do certainly understand your dilemma as you stood in the store debating whether or not to go over your budget. It’s ingrained into the soul, isn’t it. Convincing yourself not to buy something because of all the alternatives available is definitely a byproduct of growing up in a household where you’re told ‘we won’t get this because we have that at home.’ It’s a good thing, but being too tight is dangerous. There’s a fine line to stand on isn’t there.

  5. Bill says:

    As a fellow Yankee fan in New England, I’ve gotten MLB.TV for years, and ever for $120, it’s worth it to me. I also think there’s a single team package for under $100.

  6. markbialczak says:

    Before I met and married my wife, Austin, I even balked at taking a vacation because I thought I could just as easily spend my off time at home, which I was already paying for anyway …

  7. beth says:

    yes, life is short, spend the money, and take care of yourself. you’re getting there –

  8. Pingback: The week gone by — Sept. 5 – A Silly Place

  9. Helen says:

    Interesting perspective!! It is important to save save save as much as you can for a better future… but at the same time tomorrow is not guaranteed so you also gotta take care of yourself and do what makes you happy instead of always denying yourself for that so-called better often elusive future.

  10. Grace says:

    “Happiness budget” – first time I’ve heard this term! I like it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s