"He who will not economize will have to agonize."
Often I wonder when searching for bargains, buy items on sale, use coupons or decline invitations that would bust my budget whether I am being Thrifty or, dare I say, "Chintzy"? Recently when I used the word "Chintzy" to define something I did, a colleague quickly and humorously cautioned me to use more flattering words like frugal, economical, financially discerning. Point taken, except I've always rather liked the word "Chintzy". It sounds cute and sassy until you look up the definition....cheap, stingy, miserly, ungenerous. Ouch! In the future I will only use the word "Chintzy" to describe overblown floral, print fabric.
Whether we act on it or not we all pretty much know when we are spending beyond our means or budget. If credit card balances are rising, not falling or if we generally live from pay check to pay check, we are due for a wake up call. Especially now, with the economy and job situation in a precarious position, we put our financial well being in jeopardy.
In the past I have felt a little embarrassed when I had to say no to dinners out or other activities that would have meant spending more than would have been prudent. Now I don't think too much about it. I have found other ways to entertain myself and spend time with friends and family that stay within my budget. Entertaining at home, planning potluck events, meeting friends for a walk or having them over for coffee or a drink allows me to enjoy a social life but not spend as much as I would if we conducted our social life in bars or restaurants.
While I love shopping as much as anyone I no longer use it as entertainment or as an emotional crutch. Cruising the department stores and thrift shops is still a favorite pastime but I seldom, if ever, pay full retail and I curb my desire to over spend by becoming aware of the motivation behind the buying. At times spending will momentarily make us happy or seem to boost our self esteem but those feelings are short-lived indeed, if we cannot afford it.
Learning money management the hard way follows a pattern...overspending, not saving, shame, guilt and then cleaning up the mess. This pattern can be repeated many times if you're not careful and over time puts one further behind the financial 8 ball.
Having a more positive attitude toward money helped me a great deal. I began to see money as a form of energy...it could be my friend or my enemy. I realized I was doing all I could...working hard, spending wisely, saving what I could and giving joyfully. So I needed to relax, back off, chill in regard to money.
Developing a positive relationship with money meant considering myself coming from a place of abundance. Which, of course, most of us in this country do. We appear wealthy to most of the world's population. My change of attitude seemed to allow money to flow more freely into my life. Opportunities and unexpected windfalls appeared. The worry and stress around money melted away. The combination of thoughtful spending and saving and a new perspective allowed me to be more generous in my use of and spirit in regard to money.
"Thrift comes too late when you find it at the bottom of your purse."