The Nature Of Luxury
So, around here we talk about money, a lot. We’re always trying to make sure that our resources are focused like a laser on our family priorities, and nothing that isn’t. Around here tithing is first and savings/debt repayment are second.
The rest of the money goes for buying “things”, groceries, electricity, haircuts, and so on. As we discuss where we cut so we can add in other places, I’m always thinking about what’s “normal consumption,” why it’s “normal” and if there is any way to cut it. I know what the Pedroza family luxuries are: electronics and vacations. At least that’s what I think our only two luxuries are. We are planning on renting a two bedroom apartment. For some families as small as ours that would be a luxury, AJ could sleep in our room or we could put his bed in the family room, and not have that space. It would save us, possibly $100 a month on rent to get a one bedroom and not two. We’re also not looking in the very worst neighborhoods. We drive one car now, to go down to none would require a very long commute on public transport, not to mention imposing on our friends for rides to and from church activities. It could be done though. It will be easier in Riverside, where the transportation to and from work by way of public transportation would not nearly be so onerous. However, we’re not even considering it. I suppose some people would think that tithing is a luxury, but that’s non-negotiable. If it’s a luxury, so be it.
So, in my head there are 3 categories: luxuries, standards, and scrimps. I think that our electronics and vacations are our luxuries. Our one car, and our grocery budget are probably our biggest scrimps. I’m the first to admit that scrimping on groceries can be a short term plus, long term negative. We’re trying (John and Denise, each of a little differently) to make sure that it’s a short term plus AND a long term plus. Everything else, I think, for better or worse, is pretty standard. I’m sure John will be on me to turn all of our non-luxuries into scrimps sooner or later.
Whenever I see a list of people’s self-assessment of their own luxuries, vacations often make the list, sometimes electronics. How about it, do you have the same luxuries as us? Or different ones? Anyone think that they don’t have any luxuries? How about your scrimps? As discussed above, all these things are relative. In my experience, people mostly assess their luxuries and their scrimps in relation to their neighbors. (One reason why choosing a neighborhood has a bigger effect on your finances than just the amount you spend on your rent/mortgage!)
(This Post by Denise)
Travel is definitely our biggest luxury. My hubby’s bizarre foods habit is probably next. A few years ago I started sending his shirts to be laundered, and I consider that a really big luxury. We scrimp on buying cars (this is relative, I know, but we drive our cars into the ground and we go for reliable over status). We eat out together occasionally, but not a ton (unless we are traveling, and even then we eat cheap all day and splurge on one good meal), and we don’t go to a lot of movies. We are very careful about negotiable expenses like insurance, service providers, groceries, etc. Bob scrimps on gas–he’s always trying to outdo his last tank as far as mileage goes.
I have a lot of the same scrimp/splurge items Judy does. We have a vehicle with 240,000 miles we hope to drive for 2 more years, and a stripped down, bell and whistleless second car. We do ALL of our own home repairs. We haven’t done much splurging yet (raising kids is expensive!), but now that our family is gone, we are hope to start traveling more. We almost never eat out–and I consider that a real scrimp. Most of our empty nest friends have closed the kitchen and eat out every meal. I’d rather cook than eat a sub-standard, overpriced meal somewhere else.