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Cheap isn’t always better

MoneyWhile saving whenever possible is a great goal, and something I certainly advocate, there are some things that are worth paying a little more for. It’s the whole “quantity vs. quality” thing…Do you want to buy a ton of cheap items that won’t last very long, or one or two higher quality items that could last you years? Do you want to save money on something now, only to have it give out on you shortly thereafter, causing you to spend even more?

Sometimes, investing in better quality is worth it. Here are some of the areas I personally think are worth a little extra cost:

Clothes and shoes. Especially if you’re like me, and you like simple, basic pieces that won’t go out of style any time soon, it makes more sense to buy some really quality pieces you can wear season after season. I like to mix things up by adding different accessories I pick up from time to time to keep things trendy, but for the most part, I don’t buy any clothes based on trends. They’re just going to be out of style next season anyway, and then where has my money gone?

The same thing goes for shoes. I don’t own a million shoes, so the ones I do own need to last. And I am own of those girls who will pass up those adorable heels if they’re not comfortable enough!

Contractors. I’ve heard way too many horror stories from friends and fellow PF bloggers about what happens what you go with the contractor that gives you the lowest quote. Sometimes it’s worth going with a big regional company, with a long history and great customer reviews, than some unknown jack-of-all-trades who happens to be advertising a Living Social deal for his services.

Seeing as your home is something you literally have to live with for many, many years, investing in work that’s done well will more than pay for itself. (It could even save you from some potential safety hazards.)

Car repairs. I am driving my ’Bee into the ground, so I want to make sure that any work I get done on it is reputable. The Hubby gives me grief sometimes for still taking my car to the dealership for service, but you know what? I know they aren’t the cheapest around, but they know my make and model and all its various certified parts, and they know best how to diagnose and troubleshoot it.

For little things, like replacing the side mirror some jerk hit when I was parked on the street, sure, I’ll take it to the cheap local shop down the street. But I don’t want Joe Schmoe shop owner working on my baby’s engine or brakes and potentially causing some issues I’ll just have to pay to fix later on. (Plus, it’s a safety thing again for me. I will pay a bit of a premium to know that safety-related jobs are done as professionally as possible.)

Healthy food. We eat organic whenever possible, and we skip a lot of the prepackaged, frozen, and highly processed foods I know I could get great savings on if I couponed more. But for us, feeling well and taking care of our bodies is much more important than saving a few bucks on our grocery bill.

We make up for the expense by cutting back in other areas that don’t matter as much to us. Not to mention, keeping ourselves in shape could save us hundreds down the line in avoiding medical problems!

What things do you feel are worth spending more on?

 

~Heart,

Em

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photo credit:  401(K) 2013 by 401kcalculator.org

Managing your finances: it’s all about balance

Balancing ActOne of your comments to my recent post Are you letting ‘future you’ pay for today really got me thinking. While that post was all about people making big purchases now hoping that “future them” will be able to pay for it, reader Cat made an interesting point. She commented:

I think it’s a fine line between letting the future you pay for the “now” and then worrying so much about the future that you don’t let yourself have any fun now. I’m the latter version of this. I plan, plan, plan, and pay down debt and never let myself have any fun or do anything exciting

(Hey Cat: bet you didn’t think you’d be in a blog post!)

I used to be like this myself. Before I met The Hubby, I was a huge budget miser. I rarely let myself get coffee out (unless I was meeting up with a friend to catch up). I bought the cheapest of everything. I never splurged. I was so worried about getting into debt like I saw of my friends doing or living a financial wreck of a life like my parents. (More on that in a future post…)

Every spare cent went towards paying down my student loans and saving up for the future. I was terrified to spend anything on myself or “just for the fun of it.” Then The Hubby came along and made me realize that, as much as he admired my discipline, I was maybe being a leeetle too hard on myself.

You shouldn’t make future you OR present you miserable

My trouble was that I was taking financial responsibility to the extreme, like Ebenezer Scrooge living in his tiny freezing apartment eating gruel every night even though he had more than enough money to live in comfort.

In finances, as in any other part of life, it’s all about balance. Going too far to either extreme isn’t healthy, and it isn’t good for your happiness level. We need to learn to find that middle ground where we’re planning for the future but also allowing ourselves to enjoy the present. As I wrote (in my very second post for B&B!), balance when it comes to money, in my mind, means:

Having enough money to not have to worry about things (like when our house breaks or if one of us gets sick)…but not being obsessed with money.  I mean, do I budget? Absolutely! It gets on The Hubby’s nerves sometimes how careful I am about it. But, if we want to give ourselves a break in the kitchen one night and order out for a treat? Sure! Hand me the takeout menu and I’ll be the first to pick something. (Probably eggplant parm.)

Part of managing your money smartly, I think, is being careful about how you spend but also being cool enough to let yourself have a little fun sometimes. (And, if you are careful with your money, you can afford to do that.)

So while I’m always going to be giving you guys tips on how to save more and spend less and be more financially responsible, I also try to remind you sometimes that it’s okay to treat yourself now and then.  It’s okay to use your money to enjoy life sometimes. That’s why you handle it smartly in the first place, so that you can do that. You just need to make sure that you’re enjoying life now in a way that also lets you know you’ll be able to enjoy it in the future.

Balance. It’s all about balance.

Does your financial strategy feel balanced, or are you tipping too far in one direction or another?

 

~Heart,

Em

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photo credit:  BlakJakDavy

Blog Roundup (3-8-13)

I always love sharing my favorite blogs with people, so each week I’ll be giving you guys a roundup of the posts I’ve really enjoyed reading.

If you like them, make sure to subscribe and follow these great bloggers on Twitter and Facebook to share the love!

~Heart,

Em

  • This post by The Everyday Minimalist started off making me feel horrible for my tendency to be late to things (which I should feel), then gave some great tips on how to stop doing it.
  • Cool free stuff: I’m ultra-sad the pug is not part of this giveaway, but it’s still a pretty hilarious idea. Did your ex leave some things behind? Why not just give them away? (Matches included in case you want to burn them for the girl who broke up with him!) :)

Are there any great posts you came across recently? Share them with us in the comments!

Worrying gets you nowhere (but worried)

Worried Eggs II - Should not have come this way...I’ve talked before on this blog about how I’m a bit of a worrywart. (OK, a lot of a worrywart.) I’m so lucky I married The Hubby, because he’s very easygoing, and he can usually talk some reason into me when I start running off all sorts of awful “what if” scenarios for whatever problem we’re facing.

But, the worrywart tendency is still there. So I’ve had to learn some mantras to talk myself down, too. Because as great as The Hubby is, sometimes someone else can tell you something a million times, but until you really tell it to yourself, and listen to yourself, it doesn’t always “click.” (Does that make sense, or did I just make myself sound a little crazy?) J

So, here are things I always tell myself when I start to get wrapped up in my “what if” scenarios. I hope they might help you, too, if you find yourself worrying over things.

Worrying doesn’t do anything (except make you worried)

You can’t control the future by worrying about it. All you can do is ruin the present. While it’s smart to think of what might happen so that you can prepare for any outcome, you need to let go of then of the fact that you can’t predict the future. If things wind up working out just fine (which they normally do), all you’ve done is ruin your day and your mood by bumming out over things that might have happened.

Things normally do work out just fine

For every 100 scenarios I’ve worried over, maybe 20 wound up going badly (and hardly any of those wound up going as horribly badly as I’d imagined). So whenever I feel myself getting stressed, I remind myself of some recent times when I was worried over something and it wound up just fine.

If this time should happen to be one of those rare times when things don’t go well? Well, then I can just deal with that when it comes. Chances are, though, it won’t.

What is the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen?

I read about this technique on a blog recently (I wish I could remember which one), and it seemed kind of counter-productive at first. Why freak yourself out more by imagining the worst case scenario?

But actually, I’ve found that this does work. First, I think about the worst case scenario reasonably…like, if I’m worried a car repair is going to wind up being really expensive, I picture it costing us a few hundred dollars and we have to figure out how to come up with the money. Usually, I wind up having several ideas right away (we can cut back on eating out this month, etc.), which makes me feel better because I realize that we can handle it if it happens.

Then, for extra measure, I picture the worst case ridiculous scenario…like, I get a call that The ’Bee is totally dead and there’s no chance of repairing her. A tree fell on her in the shop parking lot, then a flood came along and swamped her insides, then a sudden hurricane sprung up and sucked her into the sky…In other words, I picture the craziest scenario I possibly can, until I’m laughing at how ridiculous it is. It reminds me that most of my worries are ridiculous, because really anything can happen, so why bother stressing out over all the possible “what ifs”?

Are you a worrier?  How do you deal with it?

 

~Heart,

Em

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photo credit:  Domiriel