Welcome to "Scrimp Chat" where I ask and some lucky reader tells. This week I sat down in Costco (on top of the beans and below the condoms)with Jill to talk a little about her spending habits. She's a single girl living in Portland, Oregon and is currently a full time student so those pennies must be pinched hard.
Hello Jill! Would you mind giving a little background on your thrifty upbringing?
My mom is the Valedictorian of being thrifty. She did not make our clothes but I think that's only because we were very lucky to have an aunt who liked to outfit us, and to be a part of a church community that gave us a lot of hand-me-downs. I remember my mom using coupons, for almost everything. We had homemade bread (which sadly I did not appreciate at the time), homemade jams, homemade play-dough, the list could go on and on. When I was in high school my parents got chickens, and now they have so many eggs my mom tries to give them away sometimes. She also keeps a garden and cans so many fruits and veggies, seriously you would be shocked at her pantry.
Did any of your parents spending habits (good or bad) rub off?
Some of them did. But I also find myself buying snacks (other than pretzels or animal crackers) "because I can". But one good habit they passed on to me is not owning a credit card. I also don't feel like I need to by the name brands, I am totally ok with the store brands (except I love me some Jiff peanut butter)
How would you describe your spending habits now?
It's hard to say because even though I'm a "grown up" I am also a student. So right now in my pantry is some ramen noodles, Jiff peanut butter (that I took from my mom's pantry last time I was home), cans of tuna (also from my mom's pantry), and store brand popcorn.
What would you like to change regarding your monetary life?
Right now I would like to change just about everything. Because I am a student I'm not able to save like I used to be able to when I had a full time job. However that was one of my favorite parts of having a full time job- being able to save money every month. I set up an automatic transfer every month, and it's a good thing I did because there have been times when I really needed it.
Do you have any scrimptacular tips you could share?
Sometimes when I think I want something I walk away from it just to make sure. For example: I have ring that I wear everyday, the first time I saw it I loved it. I wanted it. But, I walked away because it was more than I usually spend on rings. But, I kept thinking about that ring. So the next time I was in that area I went to the store to buy it...but the store was closed, so I walked away...still thinking about the ring. I went there again, specifically to get the ring (I couldn't stop thinking about it) but again, the store was closed. Now I knew I really wanted that ring. It had been about 3 weeks and I still was thinking about it daily wanting it, afraid that by the time I got back it would be gone and out of my life forever. It wasn't. On my third trip back I was able to purchase my ring, and I love it. I get so many compliments on it, and every time I look down at my hands i love seeing it there, my left middle finger looks and feels like a nudist without it.
So, I guess what I'm saying is that if you want to buy something but it's more than you usually spend, walk away from it. And if you find yourself obsessing about it then you should probably go back and get it, it was meant to be yours. However if you don't think about it once you walk away then you'll have saved yourself some spending guilt later on.
Also, I recommend for most items never buy full price. Not even for underwear, there are always sales on things. Just don't try to buy underwear at goodwill or anything - that's just going too far - but there are plenty of things that are just as good if not better used. Like used bookshelves - better - that way you won't feel bad if you want to paint them or cover them in book pages. I won't buy things at full price (well except for my ring) I feel so much better when I spend the least amount possible for something I need/want.
I also think it's important to give yourself permission to buy something for yourself every once in a while just because you really want it. It might not be practical, it might not be necessary, but it might just make you inexplicably happy. And being happy is priceless. So if buying that ring/book/dress/pair of shoes/jacket/necklace gives you joy every time you look/wear/read it then don't feel bad for one second about spending your dollars on it. You're worth it.
Thanks Jill! It's been fun hanging out here in Costco with you but I think I'm about done with the strange looks from shoppers and I'm sure you've got studying to do...