Frugal or Foolish?

The other day I pulled out my wallet for something and really looked at it for the first time in a while.  I realized that my wallet is actually older than my child!  It’s a black, nylon canvas wallet with Velcro closure.  I’ve replaced the plastic picture holder thingie a couple of times, but I don’t think anyone who looked at the wallet would ever guess that the thing is nearly 30 years old.  Perhaps it’s the Taurus in me, but when I get hold of something that works, I rarely feel an urge to change it just for the sake of changing it.

On the other hand, in the last few weeks, I have purchased THREE small black purses trying to find one that does work for me.  I got a really cool little purse from G for Christmas a few years ago, and I use it a lot.  It’s just big enough for my license, debit card, phone and maybe a pen or a tube of lip goo (which I can’t be without).  I was looking for something slightly bigger with a long enough shoulder strap as I’m trying to get away from the ubiquitous fanny pack. Each of the purses works partly for what I want, but none of them is completely right.  However, when I do find just what I’m looking for, I will probably have it until I die.

This morning, I dried myself off with a towel that I realized I’ve had for nearly 20 years.  Who keeps a towel for 20 years??  Me, I guess.  I remember know how old it is because I bought it in Charleston, SC when I went to visit a friend there the summer after my father died.  I didn’t have a beach towel and wanted one of my own, which I’ve had ever since.

I wrote not long ago about my rice cooker.  I also have a cutting board and a quiche dish that I got as wedding gifts for my first wedding in 1982.  There aren’t too many moving parts to go wrong on a cutting board or a quiche dish, so why replace them as long as they still work?

I have a pair of Dansko clogs that are over 10 years old and have no tread wear whatsoever.  I’ve worn them a lot, even though I don’t wear them so much now.  I will probably NEVER need another pair of Dansko clogs unless I want a color besides black.  I have a couple of “dressier” T-shirts and scarves that I bought in 1990 when I went to visit some friends who lived in Florida at the time.  I finally gave the purple one away as one can only have so many purple T-shirts, and I gave the yellow one to G, who will make quick work of it, I’m sure.

G. is really hard on clothes and shoes.  I can wear shoes for decades (see above).  She can go through a really good pair of shoes in the space of 6 months.  However, since I convinced her that paying over $100.00 for a REALLY sturdy pair of shoes is not silly, they do seem to be lasting longer.

See, I don’t mind paying a good price for something that is of really good quality.  In 1995, I bought a 1985 Ford Thunderbird for $3,000.  That was most money I have ever paid for a car.  Ever.  It had 120,000 miles on it.  In 2004, after 250,000 miles, the transmission finally went and I donated it to my local PBS station.  I used to say that the car was made on a Wednesday by happy Ford workers.  I loved that car and haven’t had one since that I’ve liked as well.  You get pretty comfortable in a car when you drive it 130,000 miles!

But how long is TOO long to keep something?  My mom could have been classified as a “hoarder” in her later years.  She was obsessive about magazines and could never throw one away.  I asked her about it once, just in a neutral way, out of curiosity, and she got teary-eyed and said she honestly didn’t know why, but it just hurt her to toss them out.  I lived with my mom for 7 years as an adult and I now have a real quirk about “stuff”.  I’ll admit I like a certain amount of clutter around, books I’m reading, and yes, magazines I haven’t got to yet, but I will never be able to live in a place where doors cannot go all the way back against the wall.  No door in my mother’s house could open all the way because of “stuff” behind them.  This now drives me nuts.  When my mother died, she had BOXES of junk mail that still had to be “gone through”.  I have my junk mail in the garbage can on the way back from the mail box.  That kind of “stuff” just isn’t important to me, but I have a hard time with the mind set of getting a new car every 2 or 3 years just because it’s a new model.

G has been talking about getting a new car.  She bought the one we have in 2006; in fact, its “maiden voyage” was to Atlanta and back when my mom passed away.  This car now has less than 60,000 miles on it and she’s thinking about another one!  To me that is just crazy.  Of course, I personally have never bought a NEW car.  I just can’t see spending that kind of money on a car.  I mean, it’s a CAR.  It just takes you from one place to another.  Despite what the advertisers want you to believe, no car will make you smarter, stronger or more attractive to the opposite (or same) sex!  I understand why G likes having a newer car–with her physical problems, it’s tougher for her to do maintenance, worry about breaking down, etc.  Since her accident, she’s been more comfortable having someone drive her and she wants them to have a nice car to do it in.  That’s great, but still, a car isn’t really broken in right till it has 100,000 miles on it, IMHO!

There are so many ways we fritter our cash away and don’t even think about it.  As above, I’ve bought 3 purses in as many months.  Granted, they were each under $10.00 but still, who really NEEDS 3 purses?

On the other hand, I’m now wondering if I should replace my “old faithful” wallet.  Maybe when the Velcro stops grabbing…




7 thoughts on “Frugal or Foolish?

  1. I love this post…I live this post! I totally see where you’re coming from with the car. My husband and I are both happy with the vehicles we drive now and have every intention of driving them into the ground before getting new ones. I also will spend a hefty amount of money on a good pair of shoes, because I know they will last me a good long time…why wouldn’t anyone do that?! Some of our favorite dishes and cookware are hand-me-downs from parents, grandparents and other relatives. Sure, the decorative prints may be outdated, but who cares?! That kind of stuff just isn’t made like it used to be. In response to your title, IMHO, you’re definitely frugal, not foolish!

  2. GG ~ we are cut from the same frugal cloth! Something sturdy, no doubt, like denim.

    I see no need to replace things that are still functional. I also have never purchased a brand new car. I just can’t get my head around the cost and I think that I would feel bitterly resentful each month making the car payment.

    It sounds like we might on the same wavelength on clutter too. I like my stuff! I’m not a hoarder, but I have a hard time parting with things that are sentimental to me.

    Keep the wallet, at least until the Velcro wears out…

  3. I admit, I have 24 year old towels. Some are a little raggedy and will probably go into the rag bag this year, just to gain some space in the closet. You will laugh, but I have a set of sheets that I got with the purchase of a mattress set more than 25 years ago. The mattress is long gone, and I don’t use the sheets too often, but they’re in the closet too.
    I do tend to hold on to things that are still useful, but I need to clear out the things I don’t actually use anymore.
    Since my husband left me after 30 years, I’m more in the frame of mind to get rid of some more of these things, since one person doesn’t need all this stuff, even if it’s still in good shape. Goodwill & Salvation Army along with a few local churches are going to benefit.

  4. I still have the Chicago Cutlery knives you gave me as a wedding gift in 1981 – some things you just don’t let go!

  5. OMG, Judy, I couldn’t possibly even remember that I gave you those. But you’re right–a good knife is hard to give up! Glad it was the right gift!

    Love ya!

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