My wife and I are tightwads frugal. We’ve managed to save a good chunk of money by cutting a lot of the “extras” out of our lives, such as frequent trips to the movies and eating out on a regular basis. Occasionally we have friends or family imply (or sometimes outright say) that we aren’t enjoying our lives, and that we are missing out on life.
Instead of going over the virtues of frugal living or the feeling of safety we have in knowing that we have money in the bank, I’d like to talk about what I call quality of life purchases. These are purchases that, as the name implies, improve our quality of life. For example:
- We just purchased a memory foam mattress topper. I used one of these when I was serving a mission, and I got to sleep faster, slept better, and felt better throughout the day. In short, the quality of my life was better. I’m confident our new purchase will similarly improve our lives.
- I purchased some nice spatulas for Becca. Every time we cook she complains about our lack of a decent spatula. I splurged and paid a bit more than I would have if I had shopped at Wal-Mart, but the spatulas I purchased have great reviews and are well constructed. Becca’s daily chore of cooking is now a little easier, my chore of cleaning up is easier (dishwasher safe spatulas!), and life is a bit better for both of us.
- Over the past year or two we have paid a good chunk of money on exams and schooling for both Becca and myself. The education has been expensive, stressful, and provides no tangible benefits. But we are both better prepared for our jobs (or future job in Becca’s case) and have gained a valuable asset: knowledge.
So what are the criteria for a quality of life purchase?
- Long-term. It is hard to say something is changing your life if it only lasts for a few minutes. A good quality of life purchase lasts for more than a day, a week, or even a month.
- Quality. Lets say you have the option of paying $20 for something that you expect to last 6 months, or $100 for a similar item that you expect to last 5 years. Which do you think is the better deal and will ultimately leave you happy with your purchase?
- Improvement. Whether it makes you smarter, builds your confidence or self-esteem, or makes your life easier, a quality of life purchase has to improve your life.
So yes, my wife and I are cheap. We don’t watch every movie at the theater. We don’t eat at Ruby Tuesday every week. But we are happy, and I suppose that is all that matters.