Don’t Cheap Out

This phrase has been running through my head a lot lately. As we’ve been purging and upgrading many of our possessions, and as I take a hard look at what I’ve been wearing, I keep coming round to a simple idea I’ve known for a while: it is worth it to buy quality from the start.

Diaper bags; we’ve gone through at least 3 or more and yet none are quite it. More money and time to look for the right bag!

Purses. I bought a sweet little leather one soon after baby was born. But, though it seemed okay, it just didn’t really work. So now it’s leaving since I have my new awesome bag.

Pants. I finally got some perspective on the pants I’ve been wearing to work, and it’s a bit disturbing. Ill-fitting, often wrinkly, too long, and mainly not good quality. And the other thing they have in common? ALL purchased at Value Village!

Stroller. Again, we’re on #2 and still don’t love it – slightly tippy, too big and too much work to fold. Sure, in total we’ve still spent only $100 on strollers, but a) that’s $100 less to get the right one, and b) we’ve now gone over a year with not-quite-right items.

Bed sheets. We’ve been getting by with too short (don’t fit around the pillow-top mattress), thin, poly-cot, DISGUSTINGLY stained sheets for months and months. Finally got a new set of sheets last weekend and I’m in bed heaven! It transforms the sleeping experience.

Baby bottles. Started with mishmash-mixed up ones. Then got glass ones that leaked. And leaked and leaked and drove us crazy. Finally got 2 Born Free bottles wiht the new breast pump and LOVE them. Solid, attractive, don’t leak and flow well. It’s like a brand new world, one we could have been enjoying for months. I can assure you that my anxiety and anger over breastfeeding problems would have been a lot lower if the bottles had worked better. Admittedly, some of the delay in this case was simply that I was in denial that we needed to use bottles. Nonetheless, we could have put in the research time and been – key point – WILLING TO SPEND THE MONEY – to get some good ones from the start. Oh the regrets!

Admittedly, some items do not need to cost a lot of money. My awesome travel mug was picked up 2nd hand by my mom for a few dollars. I do have some tops, pants (my cords – aaaah :)), socks, cardigans, on and on, that were purhcased cheap and/or second hand, are attractive, functional and make me happy.

And in some cases, just making do is enough. Not everything needs to be top of the line. Yet by and large, having things that work well and are beautiful makes life better. Daily activities aren’t interrupted by item-dysfunction. Attention isn’t distracted by clutter. The soul is uplifted by viewing beautiful objects in each direction.

Operationalizing the epiphany. First, get rid of all the excess. Creating space highlights the quality of what is left and allows new things to come in. I want ALL the dross cleared out. No more items in the closet that my hand hesitates over. No more furniture I don’t really want to sit in or touch. That is a waste of time and energy.

Second, think carefully about what I want and need. The list should be short and hit on key items. I don’t want an overfilled space now that it’s free. However, there ARE things I do want and use, and I choose to get them. I’ve realized that particularly in my wardrobe, those two factors – too much of the wrong thing, not enough of the right thing – are key to why I don’t like the way I dress. So, I need to ever so carefully define what I do want and deliberately choose to add those pieces to my wardrobe.

Third: spend the money. Yes, we have expenses. I believe in frugality. I am a saver. However, I’ve hit the point where acquiring what feel like essentials is a priority for me.

Fourth: then stop. I can see how shopping and perfecting one’s physical life can become and obsession. I do not want that. I’d like to spend some more time now getting to a stage where I feel comfortable with the things around me. Then: let it ride. Don’t head out every week or two to add something. Use what I have. And if it’s not working, reanalyze and get even more real with myself so I can make better and better choices that reflect my real life, values and loves.

I can do it and it’s exciting.

But first comes bedtime. Day 1 of the week down, 3 more to go.

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