Can Saving Money or Possessions Threaten Your Happiness and Comfort?

I get my penny-pinching ways from my father. He grew up in the Depression and never escaped his childhood habits. If bananas were cheaper at one store than another, that’s where he’d head. He saved rubber bands, string (pieces tied together and wound in big balls), children’s clothing passed down from one to another, magazines. He wasn’t a hoarder; his things were fairly well organized, and he didn’t purchase for the sake of the buy. He was a saver. Once he recycled an old lounge chair into a bed for my little brother’s overnight visits. He pinned the fraying, interlaced webbing to the frame when it began wearing out. Another time he used a rope as a belt. Fortunately, although I was humiliated in public, this wasn’t with a business suit but over the weekend.

Now I’m somewhat the same. I’ve washed, saved and re-used small plastic bags and dutifully accumulate the larger ones for groceries and trash. At restaurants I pack home the bread that accompanies meals and bits of leftover meat and vegetables destined for soup. I excuse myself by claiming to be a conscientious environmentalist, tender of the earth.

I can’t blame these habits simply on my environmentalism though. I often compare prices on menus to see if ordering à la carte is cheaper than ordering the dish as it’s listed. The other day I discovered if I asked for eggs, toast, and hash browns separately, I’d save almost two dollars! When I pointed this out to my patient granddaughter, she simply nodded and murmured “mmm-hmm.” My thrifty ways embarrass her. When my family was poverty level, I prided myself on cost-cutting. It was a game to see what I could save.

Now that I no longer am broke, I still pride myself on my parsimony. But I’m beginning to wonder why. What am I saving things, including money, for? Shouldn’t I allow myself to enjoy it? This idea occurred to me when I caught myself wanting to scold my husband for writing the items he wanted me to buy at the grocery store ON A SEPARATE PIECE OF PAPER, not on my original list! Didn’t he know he was wasting paper? Even I had to admit this was going a little far. After all, I make our scratch paper from sheets with one blank side rescued from the trash.

More importantly, I may be denying myself opportunities to delight in my life by focusing so much on saving. Let loose and have some fun, I tell myself. Buy a new coat since the old one is threadbare (I did). Donate the broken futon to someone who will repair it, and buy yourself another (I did that, too). Go out to dinner once a week. Pay someone else to paint the living room. Take that cruise now that I can afford it. After all, the value of money lies in freeing me to experience different things and to relieve me of the tedium of poverty. As long as my income is five dollars more than my expenses, I’m rich.

6 thoughts on “Can Saving Money or Possessions Threaten Your Happiness and Comfort?

  1. Nice

    On Monday, January 15, 2018, Bonnie McCune, author wrote:

    > Bonnie McCune posted: “I get my penny-pinching ways from my father. He > grew up in the Depression and never escaped his childhood habits. If > bananas were cheaper at one store than another, that’s where he’d head. He > saved rubber bands, string (pieces tied together and wound in b” >

  2. I am the same. Raised by the same extremely frugal parents. My grandma even washed out the clear plastic envelope that bacon comes in! and she used the little paper inserts that panty hose were wrapped around – remember these? – to write out lyrics to songs she played on the piano and filed them inside the clean bacon wrapper folder 🙂
    In years past, I was an avid coupon clipper (especially where we lived they would double $1.00 coupons….and I would bring home a lot of free stuff). I made three meals out of one roast etc.
    Since my mom and dad passed away I’ve been giving things away at a steady pace. Clothes (like you, I quit wearing the older ones and give them away to a friend or the Goodwill) and books (donated to a library) and now I use the library and stream for free. I cut my 4 apple boxes of Christmas decor down to one box I still have stuff I need to “get rid of”.
    I don’t feel like spending too much of my waning time “scrounging” around for bargains, but I have a few connections that I still frequent (Ebates, eBay, some grocery coupons that are supplied by the grocer’s website, etc) – things that are quick and easy when I”m shopping for something specific.
    Getting older we just need/use less. We’re going for quality, not quantity.

    • You’ve got me beat with the bacon wrapper. I have concerns over bugs and germs, even if the wrapper’s washed in soap. I DO save paper and cardstock if it can be used as scratch paper, although I’ve cut back since recycling is provided by the city here. I cut my birthday and other cards in half and use the covers as new postcards. One serious challenge, to get people to stop giving so many gifts. I encourage things like flowers (always welcom), tea, coffee. And quality has become more important, too.

  3. So true. When is it hoarding and when is it “I may need it someday?”

    It is all about balance. Enjoying what we earned and saved on something special. Especially as we get older, tomorrow may be here sooner than we know.

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