Finding Balance in an Imbalanced World

So many of our thoughts regarding financial goals stem from our parents and our experiences. Some of us run toward the money blueprint our parents set before us; some run away from that model, seeing its faults. My perspective has been shaped by three people: my mom, my dad, and my best friend's mother.

Role Models
My parents had completely opposing views. Both my mother and father were raised by parents who lived through the Great Depression and who were very frugal. My mom learned how to be extremely frugal herself. She'd never fulfill even her deepest desires when we had money, wanting to save it away like her family had done. It was difficult to buy her a gift, as she would always be so critical of the money we spent on her—even if was for something we knew she really wanted.

My dad, on the other hand, wanted to fully enjoy life, so he purchased many items on loan, like vehicles, boats, and motorcycles, and he did not mind using his credit cards or loans. While my dad did buy too many things on credit, some of his purchases were smart, even if they were on credit. For example, I have amazing childhood memories of fishing and waterskiing with the family on our boat—memories I am not sure would have occurred if he had waited until he could make in purchase in cash.

As a family, we never had a time when bills weren't paid, so growing up, I never considered the negative sides of credit. Credit was more like a tool, a resource; it was there so we could realize our dreams today.

However, while my dad was not scared to spend money, he went through much of his adult life with a significant credit card balance and did not achieve a zero balance until about a few years away from retirement. He always had a certain amount dedicated towards his retirement, but in adding up all the interest he paid over the years on various other purchases, he could have saved a tremendous amount of money for retirement.

Finally, my perspective is shaped by my best friend's mother, who was a lovely and amazing person. She raised my best friend single-handedly, but was still able to save up a considerable sum for her daughter's college. She had specific financial goals that she kept and was fully engaged in a financial plan to make sure she would be set during retirement. In addition to saving for retirement, she was also saving for a wonderful once-in-a-lifetime trip that she could take with her daughter upon her retirement. But two years away from retirement, she died unexpectedly.

My Own Blueprint
I see the different sides so clearly now.

In looking back at my family, I realize the hidden costs of the use of credit. While my dad did save for retirement, he didn't have an emergency fund. If something unexpected came up, we had to scrimp to pay all of the bills.

Because there was no safety net, my mom was even more apprehensive about spending money. Fights over money were constant. My mother was constantly scared that if a rainy day occurred, we would have nothing to fall back on and she yelled when my dad bought nice gifts for others in our family. Yet, I'm grateful that he made some of the purchased he did, like the boat. Purchasing a boat through a loan led to amazing family memories. My best friend's mom scrimped and waited to create such lifetime memories—a day that never came when the music stopped too suddenly for her.

So how do I apply all of these life lessons to my life? From my best friend's mom, I've learned that nobody is promised tomorrow. From my dad, I've learned that we must enjoy life and make memories now that will last, but not to take this philosophy too far or become so comfortable with credit card debt that I use credit for too many things that are unnecessary and that I will not remember in 20 years. But from my mom, I've learned that we need a safety net and we must be careful with credit cards and loans; too much debt in a family can lead to uncertainty and strife.

Taking these competing values have shaped my financial goals: I want to pay down debt and have a nice financial safety net, but I want wonderful memories while my children are still young like a family vacation.

Putting Theory into Practice
Taking my monetary philosophy and personal values, it's time to turn to my month's log of purchases to see if my purchases are keeping these principles in mind:

    • $26: Dinner at Steak and Shake: This was mixed. Although we went to treat the family as a reward after my daughters had a wonderful dance recital, I should have cut back and just taken the kids for shakes and sat at the counter. Sitting at the counter drinking ice cream shakes would have been as much of a treat.

 

    • $29: Lunch at local sandwich place for the four of us: no, this was not keeping our values and principles in mind. I felt too lazy to make lunch at home, but it was not memorable and we could have made items at home for cheaper.

 

    • $18: the Hunger Games trilogy: yes, this was a good, relatively inexpensive purchase that kept my principles in mind. I enjoyed the books, knew that I'd want to read them now, re-read them, and let my daughters read them when they are old enough. In addition, I shared them with four other friends and we had such fun talking about the books and planning to see the movie when we all finished the books.

 

    • $7: personal novels just for myself: no, this was not keeping my values in mind. I should have borrowed the book from the library. Although it was cheap, it was a one-time use and did not contribute to special memories.

 

    • $35: a variety of children's clearance books: yes, I bought the books for the same price I can sell them for in a fall children's boutique sale so even though I purchased the books when I could have borrowed them, I can keep them longer and still get back as much or more money on this.

 

    • $62: two swimsuits: yes, this is keeping with my values because my swimsuit from last year did not make it and I have no swim suits. Our children want to go swimming a lot this summer so this purchase will permit me to make nice family memories for a reasonably low cost.

 

  • $212: camera: I should not have bought the camera. I thought that this camera was needed for our family vacation this year, but in hindsight, I have an older camera that I still could have worked.

By creating a fiscal value log where I've evaluated the purchases I made last month, I've learned that I could have saved an additional $261 in one month.

My current fiscal log has only the purchases that I made. However, in applying those values to my purchases, I realize that I haven't considered the purchases I was sorely tempted to buy but didn't. In looking at how to save money, I want to expand my log to include items that I was strongly considering purchasing but didn't. This will help me by giving me gold stars when I resist the urge to spend and will better help me to fully understand how I make purchasing decisions.

What are your philosophical monetary priorities and how did they develop? Keeping those in mind, has your spending habits been consistent with your philosophy?

More about...Psychology

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Lance@MoneyLife&More
8 years ago

My parents are alright with money and we never went without. However, I think they probably used credit cards to finance our lifestyle at certain points. I have actually learned a lot from PF blogs since I started reading them in college and I’d say that the information I learned on them (including GRS) has set me up very well for life. I try to save as much as I can while budgeting for fun things like a cruise later this year. We’ll see how it all turns out but hopefully, if I make it to retirement, I’ll be set.… Read more »

Leigh
Leigh
8 years ago

I enjoyed this post considering I’m going through my own monetary existential crisis. My parents saved all their lives for the magical retirement phase, only to have my mother succumb to disease and end up in a nursing home.

My brother spends money faster than he gets it, assuming the paychecks will always flow.

I’m lost in the middle, not really enjoying life. I’m fearful of missing out on the present and being ill-prepared for the future. I appreciate your sharing this story.

Joe @ Maple Rowe
Joe @ Maple Rowe
8 years ago

I think you’ve got to live in the present but know your limits, a healthy mix of all three role models Meagan mentions in the article. Squirreling away every available penny for tomorrow might be a futile exercise if you have an accident, get a terminal disease, die early. What’s the point in delaying so much gratification when we really have a short time on this planet? But you can’t be reckless as that can render both your present and your future torturous. You’ve got to find your own happy medium. You’ve got to find your “enough” point. I wish… Read more »

Danielle
Danielle
8 years ago

Yes. I’ve been thinking about this too, especially since hearing an interview Nora Ephron did before her death: http://www.npr.org/2012/06/27/155841542/a-laugh-a-minute-on-screen-and-in-life

Towards the end of the interview she talks about appreciating each day, and wanting to enjoy each meal because she has a finite amount left to eat. It was really poignant to me.

Amy
Amy
8 years ago

I really enjoyed this post – I haven’t ever reviewed a month of purchases and matched each to my list of goals…..I am aware of when I’ve overspent or seemingly overspent, but can’t seem to bring myself to do a compare of what I did, versus what I believe in at the end of the month. I love this idea…hope to incorporate it soon. I further like how you are able to see the pros and cons of each of your influential person’s situation and use that to make your life work better for you. Good on ya! I hope… Read more »

Anne Cross
Anne Cross
8 years ago
Reply to  Amy

I like this post very much, too. It’s reasonable and measured and honest. I really like the idea of thinking about how each purchase aligns (or doesn’t) with goals and I love the idea of including things that you were tempted to buy, but didn’t, when reviewing your month’s spending. Great article!

Eric J. Nisall - DollarVersity
Eric J. Nisall - DollarVersity
8 years ago

An important lesson can be learned from Meagan’s best friend’s mom. You can avoid spending, save as much as you can, and put everything you want to accomplish/enjoy off until a later date, but it may never matter if the future never comes. People obsess and fret over every penny, about all of their tomorrows; they forego any spending on “unnecessary” things today in order to enjoy a more fruitful retirement. Guess what: you may not make it that long and will have wasted what time you did have. There needs to be some semblance of balance when it comes… Read more »

Adult student
Adult student
8 years ago

I really like the idea of reviewing your purchases, or considering new ones, based on how they fit your values, rather than whether you’re maximizing your savings/minimizing your spending to the utmost. It seems, indeed, much more balanced. I might try that next month.

In fact, I really liked both of your posts, Meagan! Voice of sanity here.

Jenny
Jenny
8 years ago
Reply to  Adult student

This is almost the exact comment I would have made! I might have to sit down with this month’s bank statement and review how much my (our) purchases reflect my priorities and goals, too!

elysia
elysia
8 years ago
Reply to  Adult student

I agree – this post is also very good. I like the approach and I enjoy reading it. I’m going to look and my June spending and see how it fits in with my goals. Bravo.

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago

I really enjoy this way of looking at things. Too often when money is tight or we’re saving toward a goal, buying anything new is guilt, guilt, guilt. This is a nice way to decide what makes the cut and what doesn’t – what are our priorities? Our values? Which purchases fit within them, and which don’t?

amber
amber
8 years ago

I like the idea of a money log vs. your values. The intro was a bit long. I want to see more of the log to account for the whole family budget. Also I want to know where you are eating out with 4 people for less than $30!! That is incredible.

Krose
Krose
8 years ago
Reply to  amber

Steak n Shake is a Midwest burger/sandwich chain. They don’t have it in my town, but I’ve seen them in various jaunts about the Midwest, and I think the author’s price for 4 sounded accurate. So based on that, I’m not surprised she gets meals for 4 under $30. The cost of living, especially when combined with being mindful of restaurant prices (no sodas, no appetizers etc.) is fairly low here.

amber
amber
8 years ago
Reply to  Krose

Thanks! for fast food that seems possible. I just didn’t know what a steak n shake was. Also in my town milkshakes cost $5 a piece so …

Marisa
Marisa
8 years ago

“while my children are still young like a family vacation” wait, huh?

Sentence structure kidding aside, I think that balancing planning for the future while enjoying the past is something a lot of people struggle with. I’m a bit of a penny pincher myself and have a hard time spending money, but carefully planning for events (vacations, big ticket items) alleviates some of that stress for me. I think being intentional is the best way to come at this issue from both sides.

amanda
amanda
8 years ago
Reply to  Marisa

A family vacation is OK if you’ve saved up for it, not put it on credit.

Ramblin' Ma'am
Ramblin' Ma'am
8 years ago
Reply to  amanda

The placement of the phrase “like a family vacation” makes it seem as though it is describing her children. It should read:

“I want wonderful memories, like a family vacation, while my children are still young.”

Yes, we all know what she “meant,” but it’s not technically correct as written. I’ve certainly seen worse, though.

Marcella
Marcella
8 years ago
Reply to  Marisa

The clunky writing was a problem for me too. Awkward sentences such as these made me enjoy this article less. The more I read these auditions, the more I really, really hope a decent writer is selected. The quality of writing on this blog has always made it a stand out amongst so many others (gag worthy Simple Dollar writing comes to mind) so I would hate to see the standards drop. I think that is why El Nerdo’s post is still resonating with me weeks later, above all others. He writes very well, has personality; a lot like JD… Read more »

Robyn
Robyn
8 years ago

Good post, Meagan. I see a lot of similarities in our families. With a young family, full-time job, and hour-long commute, there are times too numerous to count that it’s just easier to pick something up or go out to eat. I also had a frugal mother, but I’m not really sure about my dad. He bought a boat and a 5th wheel when I was younger, and I have very fond memories of that as well. However, I never knew if it was bought on credit. They’ve been debt-free for years, so probably not. I like your idea of… Read more »

Kraig @ Young, Cheap Living
Kraig @ Young, Cheap Living
8 years ago

It looks like you have two perspectives missing, one of someone (or a family) not saving and ending up in huge trouble and two, of someone (or a family) saving and having it save them from a catastrophe. That being said, I would caution you to think about that other perspective as I get the feeling that yours is fairly one-sided toward being relaxed about spending more than you make just in case you die before retirement or so you can have experiences out on a lake on a fancy boat. You know, you could have experiences just as nice… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago

This is a really good point. It takes a wealth of perspectives to form a full opinion. My husband’s family is full of “not saving and ending up in huge trouble” and I’ve loved the experience in my own life of “saving and having it save them from a catastrophe” as well as my parents’ saving propelling my sister and me up the socioeconomic status ladder (saving as an investment in the future). Haven’t had the saved a lot and then unexpectedly died young experience and I’m not sure what lessons I would draw from that if I did… probably… Read more »

chacha1
chacha1
8 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

I’ve lived the happy middle class kid perspective. Never went hungry, never overheard a money argument, but also didn’t routinely get summer camp or after-school activities or even sleepovers. I’ve lived the broke graduate student perspective. Eating ramen noodles, yep, and working full-time through school. I’ve lived the new-professional perspective, working my way up a ladder and letting my lifestyle inflate along with my paychecks. I’ve lived the broke over-spent idiot perspective, putting every dollar against too-high bills. And now I’m living the post-debt, thinking-ahead perspective. I don’t think I could have arrived at my current balance without personally experiencing… Read more »

Nihongo Dame Desu
Nihongo Dame Desu
8 years ago

i really like this concept.

However, I think the writing is weak. It reads like a junior high kid’s assignment.

So this one is a mixed bag for me. Great concept which I’d look forward to seeing every month, but the writing level is a little distracting for me and I suspect that I’d soon start skimming or not reading at all because of that. Maybe a bit more editing would be in order, to make this great in both content and quality.

mary w
mary w
8 years ago

Yep, I’m with you – good concept but weak writing skills.

Agnes K
Agnes K
8 years ago
Reply to  mary w

The article is interesting. However, the author needs to improve on her writing skills.Reading it feels like she was writing for readers in elementary school.

Holly@ClubThrifty
8 years ago

This was a very good post and fun to read. Great job! Although you had financial role models, luckily you realize that you don’t have to choose to be exactly like one of them. You can pick and choose the characteristics that you find valuable and mold your own philosophy from them. That is basically what I have done. My parents were and still are extremely frugal. While I admire that very much, I have chosen to be slightly more willing to spend….because I want to enjoy life a little more than they did. At the same time, I choose… Read more »

Robyn
Robyn
8 years ago

Well put, Holly.

orange_eng
orange_eng
8 years ago

Good article! It got me thinking, which is always good! I’m not sure if I agree with you regarding your take on your best friend’s mom. I bet she would consider paying for her daughter’s college much more rewarding than the once-in-a-lifetime trip. I wonder if she would have been happy to have left some money for the next generation even if she couldn’t take her trip. You also make the argument that buying a boat on credit allowed you to have some amazing childhood memories. But how often did the boat get used? Could your dad rent a boat?… Read more »

Ramblin' Ma'am
Ramblin' Ma'am
8 years ago
Reply to  orange_eng

But we don’t really know if her friend’s mom exhausted all of her “fun money” paying for college, or if she had a lot of money sitting in savings and investment accounts, waiting for retirement. This story resonates with me because I have a lot of relatives who died young. Granted, a lot of that was due to lifestyle choices like chain smoking, but I don’t want to wait until 65 or 67 to start “living.” But as for buying the boat and paying on credit, isn’t there a middle ground? Like, say, setting aside a little extra cash each… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago
Reply to  orange_eng

Also the other extreme– if she’d died young with her affairs completely in disorder and lots of creditors trying to collect from the living and not enough to pay for a funeral. That would have been stressful.

Tracey+H
Tracey+H
8 years ago

I really liked this article because it wasn’t the usual advice I’ve read for years. I’m more of the super-frugal mentality so seeing how to make a decision to spend money made me think about how I can loosen the purse strings a little (in line with my values). But, contrary to what most people might think, I think planning something special for retirement (a trip, buying a cottage, etc.) is almost as much fun as experiencing it. I have plans for our retirement that, even if one of us dies first, are truly enjoyable just in the dreaming/planning stage.… Read more »

Holly@ClubThrifty
8 years ago
Reply to  Tracey+H

I defintiely agree with this. I plan each of our vacations many months in advance, sometimes 9 months or more. I love saving for them, finding the best deal, then implementing our plan.

I also find saving and planning for retirement fun….and it’s a good thing since I am only 32. I have a very long road ahead of me!

amanda
amanda
8 years ago

I plan 9 mos in advance for trips also. When you’re gone for a long weekend, or even 10 days, that’s nothing for your money. If you divide the cost of the trip over 9 mos ($4000 trip $15 a day) it is reasonably priced entertainment. 😉

I obsess over my planning though, reading blogs about the place, asking questions, reading tripadvisor!

Holly@ClubThrifty
8 years ago
Reply to  amanda

Me too! Right now we are planning a trip to Aruba for April 2013. I read trip advisor almost daily, checking to see if there are any new reviews for the resort of our choice. We haven’t booked our hotel and flight yet because I am waiting to make sure I get the trip for the lowest price possible. I am almost ready to though and then the planning can really begin!!!

Krzysztof
Krzysztof
8 years ago

I enjoyed the moral of the story however this article did not seem to be proofread. The run-on sentences and overall lack of a good flow ruined it for me.

Adam
Adam
8 years ago

Great Article! I think having a guiding principle to one’s saving strategy is essential. My parents were always happy to spend on education and books and always ready to save on dinners out, movies, and cable. As you say having a guiding principle also reduces anxiety about where to save and where to spend.

KB
KB
8 years ago

Reviewing your own personal values/priorities against both past and future (possible) purchases seems to me a valuable and insightful tool to control overspending.

I would encourage readers to look past the occasional grammar/sentence structure problem and focus on the core message of these “audition” pieces…

Allyson
Allyson
8 years ago

Excellent article. Insightful, well-reasoned, interesting.

krantcents
krantcents
8 years ago

Setting priorities for spending is key to success. You can’t afford everything, but you can still have a nice life. My wife and I enjoy a very nice life thanks to savings, no debt except for a small mortgage.

Jeff
Jeff
8 years ago

One of the best audition articles, particularly the practical application at the end where Meagan articulated how she applied the principles to the decisions she’d made.

Cindy
Cindy
8 years ago

Thanks for sharing this beautiful story Meagan.

CB
CB
8 years ago

Great post! I am a total worrier: worried about not having enough to weather an emergency and worried that an illness or accident will cut life short before we’re able to achieve our dreams. We are working diligently now as a family to quickly reach the point where we are secure financially and able to enjoy the things that we love. The example of your dad purchasing the boat is perfect. Over the years my mom was very frugal and many times did not act on great opportunities to purchase a lakefront vacation cottage for our family, to the tune… Read more »

Omar Little
Omar Little
8 years ago

My parents are extremely frugal. They live in an outdated 2 bedroom/1 bath condo. They haven’t taken a leisure vacation in 19 years. They eat out once a month. They buy very cheap groceries, and only buy new clothing at a big discount. They do buy new cars, but drive them into the ground. While I was growing up, this frugality was a necessity- they didn’t make much money. They now have a combined 6-figure income, but still stick to their frugal lifestyle. They are perfectly happy with their lives though. They love to work, exercise at home, and go… Read more »

amber
amber
8 years ago
Reply to  Omar Little

Actually my parents did just that. Frugal Savers growing up, now they are Spendy Spenders in retirement. I say good for them! You can never predict how someone else will behave, especially with money.

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago
Reply to  amber

My dad is enjoying spending his money setting up scholarships and monetary awards for most helpful librarian and other locally focused good works. (That’s after a lifetime of scrimping and saving to send my sister and me both to the colleges of our choice with no debt.) He gives large tips, even if he buys very little. I believe he’s also considering buying some real estate in the CA central coast, though who knows if it will happen or not. He may not be doing a whole lot of spendy spending but he’s definitely enjoying the fruits of earlier frugality.

PawPrint
PawPrint
8 years ago
Reply to  Omar Little

Good job! That definitely sounds like balance to me.

My father’s favorite activity was looking at his bank balance while wearing his frayed pants and threadbare shirt. He even tried to reuse his adult diapers by drying them out until I put a stop to that. While I’d like to feel more financially secure (leftover from my dad), I definitely want to have more fun and more experiences before we retire, which is coming up pretty darn soon.

Jenny H.
Jenny H.
8 years ago

I really enjoyed this article. The perspective we gain from our family and friends while growing up stays with us throughout much of our adult lives, so it make sense to consciously reflect on that. Also, as a “serial spender” myself, I am familiar with buyer’s remorse and like the idea of evaluating purchases after the fact to determine whether they provided value or not. Makes for smarter spending in the future, I’m sure! Although I agree with the other commenters that this author would need more editing as a staff, I like the personal style and topic.

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago

I like the idea of purposeful spending. In the “Smart X Finish Rich” series by David Bach, he encourages readers to think about what their core values are and how their spending correlates with those values.

Erica
Erica
8 years ago

I really enjoyed this post, as I plan to track my spending (and temptations resisted)in July but have been trying to figure out a good format for doing so. This will help me compare each purchase against my values.

I agree the intro was too long, but I’m OK with a simpler style if the content is compelling.

stellamarina
stellamarina
8 years ago

Our tax lady, who was into financial planning, had a massive stroke last year and is now unable to look after her self and living in a rest home. I guess that is where all her retirement savings are going to go. So yes…..live now. However that dream trip does not need to be expensive. US$3000 will completely cover a two month trip in a poorer country or one month in an expensive country. I just got back from a two month trip in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei that came in at under $3000 total. Lonely Planet Guides will tell… Read more »

amanda
amanda
8 years ago
Reply to  stellamarina

That’s a great way to travel stella, but not everyone is willing to do it! Including me.

anon
anon
8 years ago

I’m surprised at the positive reviews. The writing level is noticeably below what we’re used to here at GRS and the concept is simplistic.

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
8 years ago

For example, I have amazing childhood memories of fishing and waterskiing with the family on our boat–memories I am not sure would have occurred if he had waited until he could make in purchase in cash. This is the most interesting part of this article. The discussion of when it is OK, or even beneficial to borrow money is a great topic that deserves more coverage, instead of blanket “debt is bad!” and “I can charge anything until I max out my card!” viewpoints. That said, the writing quality in this article is pretty low, almost to the point that… Read more »

chacha1
chacha1
8 years ago

Yeah, like the $7 for a book. Really?

I think the piece would have been much stronger had there been less philosophizing early on, and more concrete information later on – such as, what does this family do *instead of* buying a boat, and what the “values” actually ARE.

Buying books is in line with my core values, for sure. 🙂

bobj
bobj
8 years ago

But be careful.. you can enjoy life and save too.
My dad saved all his life.. and the week he retired, got cancer. He never got to enjoy his money.
My brother spent all his money.. and died at the age of 49.
So what’s the message here?

PawPrint
PawPrint
8 years ago

Okay, maybe some style errors, but the piece certainly kept my attention. With a bit of polish, I think Meaghan would make a good contributor.

Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager
Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager
8 years ago

I definitely take after my mom and plan and scrutinize every purchase. While sometimes it can annoy my friends who just want to shop, I never have buyers remorse, which is a definitely plus for me.

Evangeline
Evangeline
8 years ago

Two thumbs up for the writer.

Marcia
Marcia
8 years ago

I enjoyed this post! Although unwritten, I too, try to use my value system when making certain puchases.

KSR
KSR
8 years ago

I miss El Nerdo’s comments. Nerdo, I realize you’re in the run and are probably layin’ low but can’t you still be Nerdo too?—balance and imbalance?

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago
Reply to  KSR

Hey, ha ha, thanks! I’ve been reading every day (almost), but I’m also a part of this contest and want to stay neutral like Switzerland. Believe me, it takes a lot of self-restraint, ha ha ha. Lucky for me the Euro (the fútbol tournament, not the currency) has been keeping me out of trouble these past weeks. 😀

Debt Free Teen
Debt Free Teen
8 years ago

Loved the first point about having Parents with different view points on how money should be used.

Not to mention that we also should look to those around us to learn valuable lessons regarding money! While we might not be able to hear the whole back story, just observing how people manages their finances is so beneficial.

Moe
Moe
8 years ago

I am really enjoying your posts! Like you my family struggled with differing financial points of view. My mother would never indulge in things for herself, in response my father indulged in everything for his wife and family. Unlike you, my family did hit a financial catastrophe without a safety net. I saw them struggle after retirement with health care costs that led to disconnected utilities, trips to food banks, and ultimately bankruptcy. I see my siblings today follow very similar patterns. I am determined to learn the lesson. I have very few near role models, so I read and… Read more »

Joani
Joani
8 years ago

I really like the idea of reviewing purchases, even the small ones that add up. Doing so on a monthly basis is probably just about right. I was glad to read something that seems a bit different & refreshing. I would add, though, that the first part seems a bit disjointed from the second.

Rosa
Rosa
8 years ago

I like the end of your article, evaluating purchases by your values. But the description of your parents marriage felt really shallow to me – those two “philosophies” aren’t separate, they are reactions to each other. My parents had a similar dynamic, and after they divorced each moderated quite a bit. My mom spends way more money on fun stuff now that she’s not always bracing herself for his random spending sprees (we had a boat, too. It was a surprise! Also one time there was a suprise sports car! That’s why mom stockpiled canned beans and frozen ground beef,… Read more »

viv
viv
8 years ago

It’s crazy that you call your dad’s debt on a boat “smart.” Creating memories with one’s kids does not justify debt and is dumb. Lovely memories can be created for free. Lots of kids all around the world have lovely memories and childhoods without luxury goods and debts. I have great memories of swimming at public pools, free and low-cost trips to the beach, making mud pies in the backyard for free, other free play in my yard, riding bikes with family and friends, board game nights with family, and dozens of other things. Don’t justify debt with “memories” or… Read more »

Jerry
Jerry
8 years ago

I freelance and it leads to more time with my family and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s not a stress-free life but we have insurance, food on the table and a roof over our heads. It’s enough for now.

Fuzz
Fuzz
8 years ago

Instead of looking back and examining whether your past purchases align with your values, why not look FORWARD at what you plan to spend this month?

This is more productive and you can still make meaningful changes, rather than going “woulda coulda shoulda” on things you cannot change.

Diana L
Diana L
8 years ago

I really enjoyed this author’s fresh take on what can be a very stale subject.

(and I’m sure she can have her work proof-read in the future… although, personally, I enjoyed the more conversational tone of this article. I can read the Wallstreet Journal if I want a stiff, formal read)

Michelle
Michelle
8 years ago

There were some things that I liked about the article and some things that I didn’t. Overall, it felt like a slightly different take on a potentially dull topic. The writing and grammar weren’t as polished as I might like, but it didn’t distract me from reading. I found the fact that the two halves were somewhat disjointed to be more of a problem. That said, I found each one to be relatively interesting – though I’m not sure if each subject would have held up as an audition post entirely on its own. I really like that there was… Read more »

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