Tuesday, August 7, 2007


By William Adolphe-Bougereau
(She may have been painted by a Frenchman,
but I think she's a Scottish shepherdess!)

Writing my last post make me think about the ways in which rich people spend money. For them, it's nothing but the best, whether it's a house, a meal, wine, a car, clothing, furnishings. The higher the price, the more desirable.
I think certain people might be shocked to find out how little I actually spent on the two new pictures I bought for my office. But I also think those people couldn't guess their prices just by looking at them.
I am the descendant of Highland shepherds, immigrant hotel maids and sod busters. I'm the daughter of Thrifty Scots. Their shared adage was "Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without." However, I am not as famous for my thrift as my mom, who never filled a glass of milk to the top or put more than a dab or two of butter on a slice of bread.
I will never be rich and have sometimes actually been in quite the hurt bag financially. Dan and I are finally standing on the brink of solvency, but we will never live the lives of the affluent or even the well-heeled. And frankly, I don't care.
I am driving a 1996 car in which the driver's side window does not roll down. My previous car's headlight started on fire and burned the right front side, but I still drove the car afterward. My husband drives a rollover, a vehicle that's been in a rollover accident and fixed up. We're actually quite proud, in a weird sort of way, about our modes of transportation.
I buy most of my clothes at Target, Wal Mart and K Mart, and wear them until they are almost an embarrassment. I purchase my shoes at Payless or the above-mentioned stores. I dye my own hair (I will not go gray!) and get to the hairdresser months after I should.
I gave up my one great passion - magazines - and now read them at the library. I may go to an occasional movie, but always a matinee, and I usually see my movies on DVD through Netflix.
We live in a simple little house. We can count on one hand the evenings we've dined out in the last year. We like to have a steak on Saturday night, but we'll often have a bowl of soup for supper during the week. We buy $7.00 jugs of Merlot that see us through both Friday and Saturday nights.
I have a "brand new" couch and two new living room chairs right now. My couch was $120.00 used. My chairs were $15.00 apiece. My towels are all raggedy and thin, my drinking glasses mismatched, my furniture falling apart, my underwear a sight! But don't go feeling sorry for me!
Sure, sometimes I am envious over relatives' and friends' new cars, vacations, boats and the like. I am human, after all. I have "champagne taste on a beer budget" and like to imagine what I could do with limitless funds. But all in all, I don't mind getting some snooty looks and giving up luxuries to be able to buy the things that really mean something to me. (BOOKS!) I'd rather give a gift to a friend than buy myself something. And, when my daughter was in college, putting her needs first was even a pleasure.
I adore finding bargains. I love scouting out the cheapest books online. I like going to the thrift stores and winnowing out the classy from the trashy. My home decorating is courtesy of T. J. Maxx, Thrifty White Drug and - new in Bismarck - Tuesday Morning. Even the dollar stores carry items that are just right for tucking into a package for friend. You just have to be patient enough to scout for them.
There's another new store in Bismarck (to go unnamed here) which has style and taste written all over it. I took one walk through it and knew I would never enter it again. $1,000.00 for a distressed chest, and $78.00 for a T-shirt? If that's cachet, I'll pass.
I have read hundreds and hundreds of decorating magazines and I know what is tasteful and what is not. Good taste and style have never been a question of having money, and they never will be.
I try not to make impulse purchases any more. I will go home and think about something and often the "need" for that particular item goes away quietly. I earned very sore feet for trudging all over town to find my new pictures at budget prices.
Of course, I could do so much better. I could go green, I could be less wasteful, I could try a month - or summer - or year, of not buying anything, which some people have done successfully. But come to think of it, when I was unemployed, I pretty much did just that, so I know I can do it.
Added later:
I started this whole post to illustrate the difference between the rich and the rest of us. But of course I know there are those who have so much less - those who are unemployed, or have no home, or struggle with debilitating illnesses, or don't even have enough food to eat. I am EXTREMELY grateful to be clothed and fed and housed and entertained, and I do help out those who are in need. My whole point was to illustrate that one can be happy with far less and that way have surfeit to give to the less fortunate.


Rowan said...

I always feel sorry for people who equate happiness with money and possessions. All the really important things in life don't cost anything and are available to all, rich or poor. Having said that, I do realise that having enough money to pay the bills and put food on the table is important too, it's all the 'stuff' and designer labels etc that I mean.

Annie Jeffries said...

Your painting by Bougereau is perfect. He is one of my favorite artists.

Your thrift list matches mine quite a lot though I don't get the shoes at Payless. They never fit me right. I PAY for the comfort and then wear them to death. It's embarrassing how bad my shoes will get but they are sooooo comfy.

My car's a 94 and is a complete heap but it gets me around town, is cheap to run and goes like the little engine that could and the energizer bunny combined.

Less is definitely more in my book.

Carole Burant said...

I so agree with you on this post...money doesn't necessarily buy happiness and I'd rather be poor and happy than rich and lonely. Like you, my clothes are bought at WalMart, my shoes at Payless, I look for foods on sale, etc. I've always been taught to be happy with what I have:-) xox

Bimbimbie said...

.... it was often said that a very close second in the thrifty stakes were folk from Yorkshire. Being a born n bred Yorkshire lass I often heard my parents say there's always going to be someone with more than you just as there will always be someone with less and not to rely on "stuff" to make you happy *!*

Miss Robyn said...

love, love this post!!!
I am the same as you although I do treat myself to a massage one a fortnight.. that is my merlot :)

We don't need the trappings of life.. the less we have the more connected we become to our Mother Earth.. oh I could go on and on but this is the best post I have read in ages. thankyou Julie!
(you would love my friend Marion.. I posted about her awhile back)

Miss Robyn said...

ps - I drive a BMW and I am embarrassed about it -they ooze money (they also use money when they need fixing).. but it was 2nd hand and quite a few years old..

Naturegirl said...

Things are NOT important..heart and souls matter!
Aw.. come on join the ~silver fox club~ I did in Oct. and it is LIBERATING!!! hugs grey fox NG

gma said...

Great post Julie....I've always heard that the best things in life are free. Hey usually I hit the thrift stores and bargain basements....It is so fun to find the perfect thing at the perfect price.
PS My Dad was Scotch Irish...my Mom used to say he was "so tight he squeaked".LOL

Anonymous said...

Love all the paintings. Wow did you come spy at my house and then write that. Most all of it sounds so like us. My vehicle is a 1994 chevy pickup, and I love it. It is just what I wanted. I can go junk hunting with it. I just bought a pair of shoes, 4 shirts, 3 skorts and some incense from one of your named stores yesterday all for $54 :) Love Hugs and BLessings