March 27, 2009

My Frugal Journey: If I Had Known Then...

It's hard not to look backward from where I am on my Frugal Journey at my younger self and think:

"If only I had done this instead."

It's human nature, this wish to go back in time with what we now know, what we have learned through hard times and from the wisdom of others, and fix our youthful errors.

We can't, of course. But we can share our mistakes and what we would have done differently with the hope that someone else can gain from our life experiences.

So, what would I have done differently?

1. Save more money from my high school job.

I worked part-time at a store in a local mall while I was in high school; I think most of what I made went right back into the economy of the mall. I was sixteen and a slave to fashion.

I wish I'd saved more of that money; I can't remember ten percent of what I bought with it but I sure bet I'd remember how much I saved and what it earned me in interest if I'd banked it instead.

2. Spend less on groceries when we were first married.

Hubs and I got married right out of college; by then, I was already showing signs of growing up to be a total frugalista. I worked during my last two years of college, paid my rent and bills, and saved enough cash to pay for our honeymoon with one big check.

But during those last years of college, I spent very little on groceries for myself. I waited tables so I was able to eat at the restaurant for low cash; other than easy items for breakfast and snacks for on-campus, I didn't buy much at the grocery store at all.

So when Knute and I were first married and - to our young, just-out-of-school eyes - flush with cash from his Ensign pay (US Navy), shopping at the grocery store was thrilling! There was so much to buy! So many recipes to try! And we could finally afford it!

In reality, we didn't need as much as I bought; I wish I had set a smaller food budget for just the two of us and saved the difference instead.

3. Spend less on diapers when our kids were babies.

I didn't fall prey to overbuying baby gear when I was expecting my daughter almost eight years ago; I had my sister-in-law's hand-me-down's from my niece as well as her frank new mom advice about what you really need as opposed to what the manufacturers are just trying to sell you.

One thing I did buy in earnest as I waited for little miss to arrive was diapers. I stockpiled boxes of diapers and wipes in her closet; I had enough to last me over three months by the time she arrived. But I didn't buy them with coupons or - better yet - ECBs; I paid full price for most of those boxes and then paid full price for most of the diapers I bought for my two sons.

Although I wised up and saved much on diapers toward the end of needing them with my third, I wish I'd known how to search for deals and save big on diapers with my older two. I certainly would have saved us hundreds of dollars.

How about you? What do you wish you could tell your younger, less-frugal self to do differently?

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4 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this post. All of your regrets seem to me to be pretty small-scale, habit-type things. We sometimes have bigger regrets -- going to an expensive school for Tom's grad program, buying our house at the height of the market, etc. But these things are kind of one-time things that we have to get over and we don't totally regret them, for other non-monetary reasons.

    But being frugal as a habit or lifestyle seems more important in the long run. (maybe.)

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  2. I wish I was more organized so my kids were more organized. I've had to buy more last-minute, repeat when we already had stuff than a human should. My son especially loses a TON of things. Then I have to comp his allowance to buy it again, and it's so sad. Poor kid is in a cycle of destruction now, so he's broke. *sigh*

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  3. Jane: Thanks for commenting.

    Yeah, they are pretty mickey mouse things to be regretting; we have our share of bigger ones that were more "one-time" regrets.

    I think this set of regrets was more about day-to-day spending/saving habits. It's those little daily decisions that can add up to bigger savings over time.

    I think being frugal as a lifestyle is different for all of us; different priorities and starting points and all that.

    ;-)

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  4. Maple_Fan: Organization is one of those things I get *most* of the way there....then fall short. There's always some new mess popping up or a new stack of paperwork that needs dealing with...grrr!

    Drives me batty when my kids lose stuff, too. Hasn't happened too much, but they're young still. Give 'em time!

    Thanks for commenting! ;-)

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