When I was a kid, my family didn’t have a lot of money. In most areas, I never felt deprived. I have three younger brothers, so I was always busy playing outside with them. Or picking on them, but we won’t talk about that.
One area where I did notice that my family didn’t have as much as others was clothing. With four kids and not a lot of money, we didn’t have a lot of clothes. My brothers and I each had three school outfits. We wore two of the outfits on Monday and Tuesday, the third on Wednesday, while my mom did the laundry, and the first two outfits on Thursday and Friday. Every week.
I even remember my mom commenting one time that one of my friend’s moms had mentioned that her child had enough clothes to last a week without doing laundry. My mom didn’t know how they could afford it. I remember being jealous.
Now that I’m an adult, surprisingly, I’m not tempted to overbuy clothes for myself. I hate shopping for myself, and my relatively small wardrobe shows it. However, I do have a tendency to overbuy for the kids. I think somewhere in the deep recesses of my memory, I’m afraid that they won’t have enough clothes. Mind you, I don’t pay a lot for their clothes. I buy everything on clearance and usually with a coupon. However, I’m not saving money by buying too much.
Fortunately, I’ve found that there’s hope. I’m not destined to a life of buying too many clothes for my children. In situations where my heart is threatening to overthrow my finances, I’ve found that setting down some ground rules for myself helps a lot. In the case of my children’s wardrobes, I made a list of every single item of clothing they owned. I determined how many days I wanted to be able to go between doing laundry for them. I picked 9 days. I actually do their laundry once a week, but I like a couple of extra days, in case I’m sick or busy and don’t get to the laundry.
At least 6 outfits had to be school worthy. Older outfits on the weekends were OK. And a couple of church worthy outfits were important for Sundays. After deciding what my children actually needed, I matched up the list of what they had with the list of what they needed. Voila! I knew exactly what I needed to buy. For a long time I kept that list in my purse, in case I came across a great clearance sale. Unfortunately my master list was lost when my computer crashed last spring, so I need to make new master lists. But it’s a system that has worked well for me.
When you’re tempted to overspend, setting up a system to circumvent the temptation is important. Your system might include lists, a budget, waiting 48 hours between seeing an item and making a purchase, or any number of things. The important thing is to know your weaknesses and be prepared for them. It makes sticking to the budget much easier. It’s less wasteful, too.
How about you? Do you have any areas of weakness when it comes to spending? Do you see a link between your past and your present? Please share your stories in the comments.
Photo by Porcelaingirl.
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I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
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