A few weeks ago, I bumped into another grade 1 parent at the park, an acquaintance I knew from school events. As we chatted about our strange time since mid-March (working from home; restless but resilient kids; he hadn’t stepped foot in a store for 3 months...), he made an interesting remark:
We’ve looked at our bank account at the end of each month and thought, “what were we spending all that money on?!”
Many people have lost jobs or decreased employment this year. But, there are many others who have continued to generate the same salary, with reduced expenses.
Some everyday expenses were simply on pause and will eventually come back around (or have already by this point): haircuts, dentist appointments, errands deferred...
But, there are other missing expenses that, like my neighbour, may have you wondering: What even were we spending on? Did we even miss these expenditures?
I suspect that some of my neighbor’s mysterious spending could fall under the banner of “lifestyle creep”. Coffee shops, meals out at restaurants, birthday party gifts, idle spending while browsing the mall or the grocery aisles (this phenomenon doesn’t exist with online grocery shopping!)... etc. Not the essentials, but some of the things we spend on with discretionary money, as we have margin.
What a fantastic opportunity right now to re-assess this kind of spending!! To ask: does this kind of expenditure actually improve the happiness of my life? When I didn't do this or buy that, did I miss it?
For some of the subjects of these questions, the answer will be a clear yes, and some will be a (perhaps surprising) no.
We went for a dinner date and felt delighted to both enjoy the meal at a favorite restaurant and support a business that we want to succeed. On the other hand, Wayne also said that he had been getting a $5 coffee every time he delivered our parcels (pre-covid) and after the cafe re-opened, he felt like he only wanted to go once in a while.
Does this experience resound with you at all? What are the yes-worth-its and nah-maybe-nots that have arisen from a decrease in expenses? Share with me in the comments below, or email me.
This dignify post draws from Derek Thompson's October 7th article in The Atlantic.
Thompson's article explains the practical challenges in 2021 for consumers as well as for retailers.
Here's how some of these points relate to dignify right now and in the coming months:
Mystery novels have often appealed to people with jobs that are never fully resolved (doctors, pastors, social workers). In this cultural era of many-problems-few-resolutions, reading a good mystery can be a refreshing break.
Our 12-year old daughter is the most avid, prolific reader I know! We teamed up to create a list of mysteries for all ages of independent readers. The recos below are listed with increasing age levels in mind, but no specific age parameters (as a mature, well-read, near-teen, she has read up to Agatha Christie on this list).
Our 11-year old computer is showing creaky signs of age, just about ready to go to sleep (and never wake up). But, we feel that it has served us well. When I compare it to other expenses over the years, the laptop is — at about a $100/year investment — one of our best value-for-dollar belongings.
When shopping for items like this, how do we choose well? How do we discern what brand/style/variety is built to last? Or, how do we determine even if “built to last” is relevant to the purchase?