Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What If You Had All The Money You Needed, Would You Still Be Frugal?

I know most of you folks are a lot like me, trying to get your finances all settled and in a row. Maybe you are trying to get rid of debt, or trying to live within your means, or maybe you are really like me and trying to find ways to earn extra money each month. So, let me ask you a question - what would you do if you didn't have to worry about money anymore? That was the subject of an interesting post I read over as BeingFrugal: Would You Stay Frugal if You Won the Lottery? And I read a similar idea, abet on a smaller scale, on FinanceYourLife: Gas Prices Are Going Down, Are You Driving More?

They are interesting things to think about, aren't they? For me, the gas question is easy. My answer: Nope. Yes, gas prices are going down, but I am not driving any more because of it. In fact, I still like sticking to my back roads roundabout way to work and I am still making a very concerted effort to drive slow. Why? Because $2.49, while certainly a relief, is not "cheap" to me. Call me old fashioned, but I am not going to think "cheap gas" until it gets under $2.00. Even then, I am not likely to sign up for a cross country road rally! Truthfully, I don't think this price dip is going to last very long anyway. My guess is that within a month it is going to be back up there. So, no - I won't be changing my driving habits any time soon, no matter what the cost of gas is.

But what about if I won the lotto? I would have to find a winning ticket laying on the ground, because I certainly don't buy them. Let's say I did that - I found a ticket in parking lot and it turned out to be the winner. Would I change my frugal ways? Maybe.

I'm going to be completely honest here. While I am enjoying being frugal and part of me thinks of it as a game (just how low can I get my electric bill anyway??) at the same time, I am a woman who knows how to shop. There are certain things I am doing now that I would be quick to change. For one thing, I haven't bought new clothes in ages. It's okay, I tend to buy classic pieces that will last me a long time, but I admit, I am getting a bit tired of my wardrobe. I would also throw my dining out budget right out the window - along with my grocery budget. In fact, as someone who loves to cook and love to eat, those would probably be the first things to go - even before clothes. I really miss being able to stop at a favorite restaurant on a whim. Sure, I have a dining out budget but I only like to use that with friends now. That is one of the few flexible areas of my budget so currently I hesitate to use it unless it is for a "good" reason. In the "good old days" I would eat out whenever I felt the craving, now I pretty much save it for a special night out. Same thing with cooking - I used to plan my menu around what I wanted to make, now I plan it on what I already have in the house and what is on sale. I'm still eating really well, but I don't have the freedom I once did.

Of course those are relatively small expenditures. I would also love to give to some friends and non-profit organizations that I feel strongly about. And naturally, I would love to travel!

However, I would like to think that some of frugal plans would stay in place. I would fund my emergency fund and invest the greater portion of the money. I would keep looking for good deals and using coupons, that stuff is just in my blood. I would like to think that the lessons I have learned as I have struggled financially would not completely fly out the window, that even if the money was there, I still keep buying cfls!

What about you? What would you do?

Photo by: Rockers Generation


Doctor S said...

We all struggle with this term "frugal" I would stll be jsut as frugal if not more frugal if I had all the money I needed! just so many things I want to do and people that can be helped with even the littlest amounts.

Thanks for the mention!

That One Caveman said...

For me, frugality is a way of life. Even when I've been in times of decent surplus, I've always tried to spend as smartly as possible - notice I didn't say as cheap as possible.

With more disposable income, I would save and give away a lot more money but I would also loosen the purse strings a bit to enjoy a few more "wants" than we have lately. But even when we would purchase these luxury items, it would be with frugality in mind. I'm always more interested in getting the biggest bang for my buck than trying to get by with the cheapest options available (which often cost you more in the long run).

Budgets are Sexy said...

yup, i sure would! i'd sure as hell splurge a lot more, but i'd still be pretty frugal. I never like paying more for something than i think it is worth ;)

Plus, i'd want most of the money invested away - thus not allowing myself to spend it...yet.

Dawn said...

Doctor S - No problem! And it is an interesting conundrum. There are a lot of local causes I wish I had the money to help.

That One Caveman - I agree that the cheapest options often end up costing more in the long run! I think I would be "mostly" frugal, but there are definitely a few things I would purchase.

Budgets are Sexy - neither do I. For me though, I am forgoing some of the luxuries that are worth it, but I just can't afford right now. Those would be the things that would get me to open my pocketbook!

Mary@SimplyForties said...

I like to think I would stay on the frugal path. I hope frugality has become a way of life for me. Unfortunately, I'll probably never get to put it to the test but it's a good premise to think about.

louise said...

I would splurge on some things if I had more money ( like holidays) but I don't think I'd be wasteful with it.
I just awarded you the coolest blog award! :) Congrats on a great blog!

Frugalchick said...

If I won the lotto or had some other huge windfall, there are definitely things on which I would spend more money. My grocery spending would go up, as I would switch back to all organic food, not just some. I would spend a bit more on clothing/accessories, trying to buy more ethically-sourced and quality goods. And I think I would like a really nice vacation every couple of years--I want to see more of the world and we really don't have the time and extra funds to do that right now.

Other things would never change. I don't want a big house or super expensive furnishings. I have always loved hunting at thrift stores and yard sales, and that wouldn't change after winning the lotto. So there would definitely be a change in my life if I had that kind of freedom immediately, but I would hope it wouldn't be a radical change.

YoungMoneyTalks said...

I think I would probably still stay frugal. I'm one of those people who loves a bargain and instead of bragging about how expensive something was, tells you how I got it for super cheap. For example, I have a skirt that was originally $300 that I payed a whopping $4 for at Loehmann's. I don't think I could give that up. Although, I think if I came into a fortune, we'definitely spend more on groceries, swapping our stand-by tilapia for mahi-mahi or halibut!

Dawn said...

Mary - I'm with you, I'll never get to find out, but it is fun to think about.

Louise - Oooh... I didn't think about holidays. Yeah, holidays would be fun! And thank you so, so much for the award!! How fun!!

FrugalChick - I'm with you on buying organically and locally. I would also prefer most of my clothes to come free trade artisans. There is a store nearby that sells items like this that I love... but just can't afford right now. Oh well, it is fun to think about!

YoungMoney - my whole family does that. In fact, we frequently leave price tags on gifts so we can show what a great deal we got!! It would seem weird around other people, but my whole family loves a bargain, so we have fun bragging about our good deals!

Lise said...

Heh, I actually wrote an article like this about a year ago now:

One thing I determined is that I would keep some behaviors, but drop others. I'd still go to the library and try to keep a relatively small book collection, but I would probably eat out more often, or travel more, or buy more perfume. I feel like I would just have more money to spend on the things that were really important to me.

Dawn said...

Lise - I guess it is true what they say - Great Minds Think Alike!

Thanks for the link to your post.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to think I'd still be frugal, but I'd pay off our debt and save the money in various places instead of paying off the debt. Give more money to charity.

If I won that much, that I didn't need to work, I'd give up work and do some volunteering work and also work somewhere where I'd like to work.. instead of having to..

Dawn said...

APieceofWood - I'd quit too. Volunteering would be calling me. And Amen to paying off debts then donating to charities!