Saving Money Is All About Being Willing to Walk Away - Live Like a Mensch
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Live Like a Mensch

Saving Money Is All About Being Willing to Walk Away

For Halloween this year, I decided months ago that I wanted LO and BB's costumes to be related to each other.

My first thought was to have LO go as the house from Up and have BB dress as Dug the dog.

Then I realized that just after giving birth to a new baby is not a great time to take on a major craft project, which is exactly what I would be doing if I were to construct a miniature, wearable Victorian house out of cardboard for LO. (And considering the child's anitpathy towards jackets and sweatshirts, there was no guaranteeing that he'd even be willing to wear the house costume, bunch of balloons tied to the dang thing or no).

Then, I thought it would be adorable to have LO go as Max from Where the Wild Things Are, and have BB be a Wild Thing.

Image source

Not only does LO absolutely love the story of Max's sojourn to the land where the Wild Things are, but I knew that I would not have to make anything. I would simply have to buy a wolf suit and a Wild Thing suit.

Unfortunately, wolf and Wild Thing suits do not come cheap. I could not find either for less than $35, and I am not willing to drop $70 (plus shipping) on infant Halloween costumes. (Although a part of me would love it if LO wanted to regularly wanted to wear his wolf suit, even if I could do without him making mischief of one kind and another).

Then, inspiration struck in the form of a birthday present for LO. My mother sent the young man a fire fighter dress up set

image source

which he was thrilled to try out:

Clearly, the family costume would be a pint-sized fire fighter with his tiny dalmatian puppy.

All I had to do now was find a dalmatian costume for BB. I did a little checking in early September, and I was pleased to find multiple baby dalmatian costumes for about $12 each. 

However, I did not purchase a costume at the time. Jewish tradition stipulates that you should not purchase anything for a baby until after he has arrived. While I certainly did not follow that superstition-based proscription with either pregnancy, I do have enough of a superstitious side that I felt uncomfortable purchasing something frivolous for the baby before he was born. Having the necessities to welcome a baby home is practical. Having a Halloween costume on hand for an as-yet-to-arrive baby seems like tempting fate.

To make a long story short(er), it was October before I was able to return to my dalmatian costume purchase.

And apparently, good prices on Halloween costumes are gone by October. Again, I was faced with the possibility of purchasing a $35 costume for what amounts to a photo opportunity.

I was on the phone with my sister yesterday lamenting this fact while I also searched Amazon and eBay for options, because I heart multi-tasking. While talking to her, I found a couple of options that would set me back about $15, which I was somewhat okay with spending. Then I realized I'd be spending another $6 on shipping, and I said, "Never mind."

My sister was really surprised. "No wonder you've got so much money set aside," she said. "You're not willing to spend twenty bucks?"

Well, actually, $20 was the limit that I was willing to spend on this silly endeavor. The costume I was looking at would set me back $21--a difference that was enough for me to be willing to walk away. (And that right there was the source of my sister's incredulity).

But the other problem was the costume I'd found wasn't exactly right. The dalmatian spots were brown instead of black, the costume didn't come in sizes smaller than 3-6 months, which meant BB would be swimming in it, and there was no tail, which seems essential for a doggy costume.

Basically, I was willing to spend up to $20 for a costume that looked like my vision. Otherwise, forget it.

After making some more incredulous noises, my sister suggested I just make the costume--which I had already thought of. (I wouldn't be able to do that for $20 or less, either.)

Shaking her head at me (and I could tell even over the phone), my sister hung up.

The thing is, I often make decisions this way. If I am in the market to buy something I want, rather than need, I am perfectly happy to do without it if I can't get exactly (or basically) what I want for the price I'm willing to pay. To me, that seems like an eminently rational method of spending money--and I know that my sister follows that ideal when it comes to large purchases. What stymies her about me is the fact tht I think that way about $20 purchases.

But frankly, I can't turn that mental analyzer off. It just doesn't make sense to me to spend money on a non-necessity that isn't exactly what I want. I'll be happier keeping my money rather than trying to make do with something that isn't quite right.

That said, I still did end up compromising a bit on BB's costume. I found this adorable creation for $12 (plus $5 shipping) on Amazon:

Image source

It's not exactly what I wanted. Again, I had to make do with a 3-6 month size, and I had hoped to find a pajama-style onesie with long sleeves and footies, in case there's a Halloween chill in the air on the 31st. And there's still no tail. But it has an adorable hat with ears, the right color spots, and it will be possible to layer it over BB's own clothes. Altogether, it fits most of my criteria, and it was less than my spending limit.

But if it, too, had cost me more than $20, I would have walked away. Because not only is BB likely to spit up on it before we even get the camera set up, but the kids will look absolutely adorable whether or not they dress up together for their first Halloween as brothers.

I am glad that I didn't have to walk away from this purchase, though. I'm looking forward to seeing LO and BB enjoy Halloween together.


Do you walk away from unessential purchases if they aren't exactly what you want?



frugal_fun said:

We do generally walk away from purchases that don't fit what we want.  I know that I'm not going to be happy if I throw my money buying stuff I don't quite like, regardless of the price. I also have become very aware of clutter over the  years, so we try to keep the end of the "stuff" in mind.

The hazard, though, is getting frustrated with myself. I get tired and impatient of the shopping process. Quite often we have the skills to create something that we'd like, but like you the time just isn't there. We've got homeschooling, scouts, DH's full time job, my part time job, keeping the house, etc, etc. I just want the stuff we need or want to appear in the house.

It's those times I wish I could just turn off the frudar and spend like "normal" people. :)

October 11, 2013 5:15 PM

bobi said:

I absolutely walk away and not just from unessential purchases. I do the same thing with essential purchases, providing it's not an emergency purchase. I learned from the Tightwad Gazette to "delay" your purchases until you find your price point on the item you desire. Waiting isn't nearly as difficult as it may seem. The only time this system doesn't work well is when the refrigerator quits but then I just use other money saving tools to get a good deal.

October 11, 2013 8:28 PM

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