Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Living on the cheap

Today I was at Elli's school doing some volunteer work for the games club.  For some reason we have 12 Monopoly boards there despite the fact that the game takes forever, has a bazillion pieces and isn't good so we spent an awful lot of our time trying to assemble complete sets from the chaos and eventually pitching things into the recycling.  We had some interesting conversations while sorting through the bits about child rearing and such since it turns out that everybody else there was a stay at home parent with at least 2 children.  All of them found that their kids were massively different from one another.  They talked about having to maintain completely separate discipline and reward systems for each child and what a struggle it was to adjust on the fly to each child needing such opposite behaviour on their part.  It is a challenging thing I am sure though I have not done it myself.  I suspect it is a lot like being a manager in that there is always a disconnect between how you want to run things and how things need to be run to get the most out of your workers and different workers need different things.  No matter how careful you are there will be a balancing act between changing the rules for each person as necessary and maintaining a constant set of rules for consistency.

I talked a little bit about my only experience with this sibling difference:  My penny pinching and my brother's much more normal spending habits.  He is on the frugal side of average but I am freakishly so making him look like a spendthrift.  My parents could literally have handed me the keys to the vault and I still would have only spent $100 outside of food, books and lodging in my first university term; such refusal to spend money is simply part of my makeup.  The folks I was working with asked me how I did that and jokingly suggested I come by their houses and tell them how to live on so little which I thought was really funny because I haven't any idea what I would tell them.  What would I say?  Don't ever buy anything?  Spend all of your time playing old videogames and playing card games with decks you got for free?  I keep on wearing clothing with holes and stains until somebody randomly gives me a replacement for Christmas or somesuch - that isn't the sort of hint anybody needs or wants.

I'm not holding this up as an example of virtue either as it is just the way I am rather than something I work at.  I don't replace things mostly because I would rather use my old things than go out to a store and buy new things.  There just isn't that desire to go shopping and get new stuff in me for some reason.  I can enjoy a new thing when I get it but somehow I lack that normal desire to get new stuff.  Most people have to fight the temptation to duck into a store and buy something new that they see on display but I have to fight the temptation to never visit a store under any circumstances and be clothed only in rags.  There are plenty of books out there talking about financial restraint but I can't see myself writing one.  The book would start and end with "Stop wanting stuff and cultivate the ability to be content with poverty."  Yeah, that isn't going to fly.  For one I need 200 pages of crap that won't work to fill it in, and for two nobody would buy it.

1 comment:

  1. You have just figured out your new career! Some people need a personal shopper. Most people need a personal shopper-stopper. With fading economic times, paying for your money saving advice would be an overall gain to them.