Thursday, October 08, 2009

How Guilt Can Cost Money

I've noticed that there are a lot of times when my frugality collide with guilt of some sort. I feel guilty when I buy diapers at the convenience store because they cost two dollars more. I feel guilty when I forget a coupon at home. I feel guilty when I buy a cup of coffee when we go out since I forgot to grab a travel mug as we headed out the door.

In my book, that guilt is actually pretty rational and it's a large part of what has kept us successful with frugality. I do make sure to get myself some slack now and then though because life happens and sometimes things are unavoidable.

But I'm actually talking about another kind of guilt. I'll share with you the perfect example of this that Eric gave me today.

For a long time, he has been stopping every night at a gas station to pick up a candy bar for his long drive. It's a small indulgence, but an indulgence nonetheless. He felt guilty about this little habit. Then one day, he realized that it was okay to treat himself like this but it was not okay to continue spending the 80 cents a day. So he went to Sam's Club, bought a large box of candy bars and now indulges guiltlessly each night for just 49 cents.

I've fallen into this same trap many times myself. How many times have I thrown away pizza coupons because just the thought of buying carry-out pizza makes me feel guilty? You know what - I can feel guilty as much as I want and we'll still end up getting a pizza occasionally. That silly guilt that makes me throw those coupons away costs about $5 at least every time we get a pizza.

I guess what I'm trying to say is avoid extra spending when possible, but be realistic with your habits and don't let guilt stop you from saving a few dollars. That's a lesson we're finally starting to really learn at our house.

Stop by Life As Mom for more Frugal Friday.


Cate 9:18 PM  

I completely know what you mean! So often I don't clip coupons I know we'd use because I feel "wrong" buying those products--even though we often buy them anyway. We don't eat Toaster Strudels everyday, but does it make our lives just a little easier to have a quick snack stashed away in the freezer? You bet it does. And it definitely makes our lives easier when those Toaster Strudels are $1/box with coupons rather than $3 a box without I totally know where you're coming from!

(Also, kudos to your husband on the cheaper candy bars. Isn't it great to have a frugal partner?)

UnfinishedMom 11:01 PM  

I was thinking the same thing as Cate. We don't let our kids eat sugary cereal or PopTarts every day, but we do occasionally. If I buy them on sale with a coupon I eally shouldn't feel guilty about the occasional indulgence.

Your Frugal Friend, Niki 1:15 AM  

Great post, Kate!

I have guilt about ordering out. When we do it is typically pizza, the cheapest option around here. If you save the coups on the box (10) you get a free pizza. Last month we ordered out I tossed it, thinking I shouldnt order out anymore because it is wasteful. Well then we ordered it again this week. I should have just started saving them...

Alea 3:28 AM  

Great point! My dh and I have tried to eliminate diet coke from our diet. Really, I am trying to eliminate it from our diet. So I won't buy a 12 pack, but then my husband stops and buys a bottle at the gas station for 1.49 - 1.89. I can buy a 12 pack (with coupons) for $2.00 - $3.00. So yay, guilt is definitely costing us money. It would be much better to buy the 12 pack and enjoy a soda a day.

Anonymous,  4:16 AM  

Yes, this is very true. And buying something in bulk and enjoying it slowly at a self-controlled pace is definitely saving money. The only problem is for those of us for whom self-control is not that easy when it comes to some things like coke or sweets. I noticed that if I have it in the house in big quantities I would eat more. The perfect example is the large Nutella jars they sell in some places. It is much cheaper per serving, but having it in the house means I will finish it sooner. So I have to be realistic: if I buy, I will just eat more of it. Now, I pay more per serving on the smaller jars and only buy it occasionally. So, regarding the coke issues in the previous comment: I would say, if you want to give it up or reduce it, don't let a 12 pack in the house, even if it is cheaper:) This way you will keep it away and only give in once in a while, not every day, especially if you have to pay more for the individual bottles. Just a thought:)

Sheila 9:09 AM  

You are exactly right. Great post!

VanderbiltWife 9:47 AM  

I am so with you and the first poster. I don't clip coupons because it's for stuff I don't think we should eat...and then I will occasionally buy those things without a coupon!

I think a lot of the guilt comes from comparing our choices with others'. We just have to make the best choices we can for our families and not fear constant criticism from others.

Bree 4:43 PM  

Wow you hit this one right on target. I do this with soda as well. I dont want to buy it but my husband buys it whenever we stop for gas etc... at the same time though if it is in the house it would be gone in no time. It is a hard balance to strike. I started to send him to work with homemade iced coffee and that helped. He gets his little pick me up and I was really only using left over coffee and milk and some homemade chocolate syrup, a cheaper alternative.

Hoosier Homemade 11:07 AM  

I'm right with everyone else. I find myself not keeping a coupon, because I feel like I shouldn't be buying convenience foods b/c they cost too much. But sometimes, if it's on sale and I have the coupon, it costs less than making it from scratch.
Thanks for the great post!

Jes 2:46 PM  

You have really summed up what my husband and I have been feeling as of late!

I'm so glad you have figured out what works best for your family! It's great when everyone is on the same page!

Great post!

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