We don’t follow a strict budget – instead, we’ve casually kept an eye on our spending. We spend modestly on groceries, restaurants, and trips to Target each month and manage to save a smidgen here and there.
We share one (used, no car-payments) car, we don’t have a television or cable, we rent a modestly-priced duplex, and keep our heat at a brisk 65 degrees. I’ve only spent $50 on clothes in four months and we borrow movies from the library instead of going to the movie theater. Our cell phones are three years old (sans internet or texting) and I dye my hair from a box. We buy nearly no disposable paper or plastic products and bake our own bread. I think I say honestly that we live simply. We are frugal. We aren’t big, wild spenders.
Sure, we have our luxuries. Namely, going out to dinner once a week and our beloved Apple products (we both have Macs and iPods - mine’s refurbished). But, when I look around at others my age, I'm embarrassed to admit that I get jealous. I'm wearing hand-me-downs and they're wearing an adorable outfit from J. Crew. I'm using a cellphone that rivals Zach Morris' and they're on their iPhone. I'm cooking at home and they're eating out several times a week. I feel so utterly unpolished sometimes. My nails are ragged, my hair is in a messy bun, and my shoes are scuffed.
I went over to dinner at our neighbors last Friday, and their house literally looked like a Crate and Barrel catalog. I went back down to our duplex and glanced around, realizing that 90% of what we own was hand-me-downs. (The other 10% comes from Ikea, of course). I compared their gleaming dark wood dining room table, chairs, and hutch with our beaten-up chairs from Mike's old boss and mismatched tables from our grandparents. I compared their beautiful cream shaggy rug with our motley assortment of well-loved rugs. I compared their plump sage-colored couches with the (while gorgeous, quite) small one we got off of Craigslist.
He is a doctor. She is a marketing rep. Mike is a grad student. I am a campus minister. I cannot compare our lives. I know that we are choosing what makes us happy over what makes money, but sometimes it is difficult.
Sometimes, I want it all.
I will be back with more posts about how to save money, real numbers with how much we want to save, and just how difficult it is to say no to Thai food when you realllly want some. But today, I am struggling.