Thursday, February 3, 2011

False economies

Jennifer suggested I write a post one of the ways I tried to save money back when we were dating. But first, a little background.

Back in 1997, I was living in a small..."apartment." It was actually a tiny mobile home in the backyard of another mobile home. My apartment was about 250 sq ft. It had enough room for a full size bed, a two-person table, a tiny kitchen, and a tiny bathroom, which didn't even have a door. But, the apartment came furnished (bed, table, some kitchen utensils, etc), with utilities, for about $300/mo.

I lived there without a TV. And I didn't have a phone. I would walk to the gas station, which was one mobile home away, so I could use the pay phone.

Anyway, one of the ways I tried to save money was by getting the most for my money when it came to garbage bags. That meant buying 30gal bags. After all, why would I spend money on small 13gal bags when I can get the giant 30gal bags for about the same price.

Well, you can probably imagine how long it would take a single guy to fill a 30gal bag. So, there were occasions when the apartment would stink pretty bad 30gal of rotting trash stinks up 250 sq ft quite easily.

So, in my attempt to live super-frugally, I ended up living like Oscar the Grouch.

There is such a thing as a false economy. Cheaper up-front costs don't always equate with long-term satisfaction.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I'm getting fat on all this cake

How do Christians, living a wartime lifestyle, handle the many opportunities they have to spend money in the name of friendship? Here's my current situation:

Jennifer has a friend who is fulfulling a lifelong dream of starring in a particular play in our local theater. To celebrate this, a group of this lady's friends are going to make a date night out of going to the show and then going to dinner together.

The tickets to the show are about $20/person. So, for the two of us to go, it would be $40. Add the cost of babysitting. And, add the cost of the dinner, which I'd estimate will be at least $25. This will easily cost more than $75 for a night out to show support a friend.

But, here's the real issue. There's always something to celebrate. We have two kids. If we're friends with 6 couples, and each couple has two kids, then there's going to be an average of one kid's birthday party per month. Plus, there's the one friend's birthday party each month. Plus, there's always someone's kid who is selling Girl Scout cookies. And the list goes on and on.

This all reminds me of a Seinfeld episode, Frogger. In that episode, Elaine is getting fat at work because of all the birthday cake. In a company with a few hundred people, it's someone's birthday almost every day. So, she claims to be sick, just so she'll have a reason not to eat the cake. But then they give her a get well cake.

So, do wartime Christians spend lots of money in the name of friendship? Or, do we act like the oddballs by sitting out so many social occasions? What is one to do?