Friday, December 27, 2013

Frugal Motivation as 2013 Comes to a Close

In prior months I would have hired a babysitter or gone while the kids were in preschool for what I did today.  But instead of pay for child care or use the precious time reserved for my legal practice, today I did something I have not done recently.  The kids joined me on a trip to the Car Care Clinic.  It was time for my 6 month oil change and a front headlight was out.  Many families here in the Midwest have large networks of grandparents and aunts and uncles to turn to, we do not.  Free child care by family members is not an option.

Taking two young children on errands, in the winter, can be exhausting.  But I chatted with the kids before leaving and came up with a plan.  The car was dropped off, we walked next door to the bagel shop to wait out the 30 minute appointment.  For a grand total of $6.41 I accomplished a mundane task, but did not have to pay a sitter or use the time I should be practicing law.  It was a frugal move for our family. With diapers and bottles behind us, these types of outings are getting far easier.

The evening generated a quick solo-run to SAVERS where I picked up a pair of winter boots for myself, the next size up shoe for both kids to wear this Spring, winter slacks for my work clothes, a colorful but inexpensive rug for the upstairs cat litter (in an effort to avoid another $500 emergency vet bill we've moved one box upstairs to minimizing the "guarding" behavior), and a shirt for my husband.  With a 20% off coupon from making a donation, the grand total was $34.

Once home I helped the children get ready for bed.  There is some saying about frugal people squeezing every last bit out of the toothpaste tube.  Well here we cut into the container and swab out every last bit.  It's frugal overdrive for us.

In decades past I had various motivations to be frugal.  First it was to pay off the $97K in student debt. Once that was done it was to build a nice sized down payment for our house purchase and to have a savings cushion. My new motivation?  Building up the savings that was hit hard by a cut-throat preschool contract. Yes, the preschool litigation continues.

We used the school for 13 days. The contract says we ow $12k for those 13 days.  It's an amount we are willing to fight over.  Some penalty for using it for 13 days?  Yes, but $12K?  That seems absurd, and something I think a judge will agree with. My new motivation for 2014 comes from the preschool debacle. The school had been in sales mode, focused in on my weakness, my one are of willing indulgence, education. Sadly my assumptions of the school were wrong, totally wrong.  It was not a small school willing to work with us on our family's needs, but rather one that implements a 1920s educational dogma with unforgiving strictness.  So as others enjoy manicures, movies out, expensive New Years Eve dinners, and international travel, we are hunkering down to build up our savings account some more.  It was not total devastation, but it was more than I would have like to spend.  Never ever again will I not apply my frugal ways to another large purchase.  And by that I mean I'll leave my emotions at home....there is always another house, another school, another car, another pair of shoes.  When emotions enter the equation, the price will likely rise to high.

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