Years of poor financial decisions and a trans-Atlantic move or two have left me in a position where I have to watch where every penny goes.
I’m not the very most frugal shopper, but I’m getting there. I weigh up the cost of everything against its necessity and I try not to spend frivolously at all. We simply don’t have any money for discretionary spending so even ‘treats’ like chips and store-bought cookies are only bought on special occasions when I feel like splashing out.
Bottled water is 0.9 cents per ounce but filtered water out of the fridge filter is MUCH cheaper than that… So I drink four new bottles of water and then refill those bottles every day for a month. 0.9 cents per ounce is WAY too expensive!
Orange juice is really out of my price range but is pretty much the only other thing I like to drink. Occasionally my wife convinces me that I don’t eat enough fruit so I buy some high-pulp OJ and drink a small glass a day.
As for chips… I LOVE chips but a family size bag is between $2.50 and $3. I’ll buy a bag once a month or so but I’ll make it last at least a week.
I know the value of the food I eat and do my best not to overeat the expensive stuff.
We are blessed to have various different people eat at our house most days and often we have people staying with us. It never ceases to amaze me the difference in my values and some of theirs.
If I have some OJ, I get a six-ounce glass and don’t fill it all the way because I know that even buying the cheapest juice I can find, six ounces is almost twenty cents. Some of our visitors will see OJ in the fridge and grab a sixteen ounce glass and fill it to the top without even thinking about it.
I guess if they did stop to think about it, they’d work out that sixteen ounces is about fifty cents – which they probably wouldn’t think is bad since they’ll happily buy a large soda from McDonald’s or a coffee from Starbucks without even thinking about the cost.
Then there’s the chips, which I carefully ration and yet my guests will happily eat half a family-sized bag of in one sitting.
I sit and wonder if they have any idea that they just ate $1.25 worth of chips? The answer is probably that they get through a bag or so a day at home and don’t think anything of it so why would they think anything of it in my house?
Let me just say that my biggest fault is my generosity and while I can’t justify buying more than one bag of chips a month for myself I really have no problem with buying a bag a day for my guests and I am in no way bitter that they eat my food. I’d tell them no if it bothered me and I consider it a joy to be able to serve them in that way.
What it shows me though is that we all place different values on things. While I think a bag of chips and a glass of OJ is a treat to be kept for the most special of occasions, many people (even those less well off than me) think that chips and OJ are basic, everyday items.
While I cannot justify the cost of cable or dish TV so we have no TV signal in our house, many people think that TV with added sports and movie channels is essential.
We have a difference of values – a difference of opinion of what value to place on things.
There are, for sure, many things which I barely consider the cost of or think are essential which you would happily live without. It works both ways around.
What I’m trying to learn from all of this is to respect people’s different values. It’s too easy to look down my nose at someone because they do or don’t place high value on a certain thing. Way too often I judge people just based on what I perceive to be their values.
I need to remember more often that the whole point of the Church, indeed, of the human race, is that we are all different and unique. We’re not all cookie-cutter robots, we’re individuals fearfully and wonderfully made by the Master.
If everyone had exactly the same values as me, life would be boring. So I praise God when someone eats the whole bag of chips or drinks the OJ like it’s going out of fashion because they’re just being the special and amazing people that God made them to be – and he loves them ferociously
…. and so should I!