I gave it my best shot. I really did. But if being pregnant has taught me anything, it’s this: there’s a time and place for frugality. And the time isn’t always and the place isn’t everywhere.
What a thing to say just two days after I condemned the side hustle. It is almost as if this eighteen-month journey as a personal finance blogger hasn’t brought about any real personal growth. Or maybe I’m just really bad at blogging.
For as long as I can remember, my mom has had a mantra: “Don’t out-cheap yourself”. Like all good daughters, I routinely ignore this advice. But I am getting better at remember that it’s only money.
Still, when I found out we were expecting, I couldn’t help but think of my favorite bloggers and my favorite pregnancy posts. Could I out-frugal Mrs. Frugalwoods? Could I buy literally zero maternity things? What if we, too, refused a shower? Things started swimmingly. One coworker lent me a small bag of maternity essentials. Another coworker lent me four storage tubs so large that it took her husband to load my car and mine to unload it.
best laid half baked plans, things went south really quickly. After deciding to splurge on two pairs of dress pants and two pairs of jeans that fit me really well, I was satisfied with the $127 cost. Determined to cobble together the rest of my pregnancy wardrobe with borrowed pieces, you can imagine my surprise when I got the text that my coworker was now expecting. Refusing to hold any of her kindness hostage, I promptly loaded had Mr. P load up my car and returned all of the items. And maternity clothes say nothing of the real expenses of pregnancy: nursery necessities, medical bills, and maternity leave.
In addition to these pregnancy pitfalls, there are other big expenses looming on the horizon. I’m standing up in another wedding just after Half Penny’s arrival and Mr. P’s parents are renewing their vows in a darling ceremony later this month. And guess what? I’m really excited about these things. Just like I’m over-the-moon thrilled to meet Half Penny in eighty-some days. So isn’t it time that I let myself act like it?
Giving Myself Permission
After weeks of trying on dozens of discount dresses and clearance finds that I’ve ordered online or looked at on the not-so-discount thrift store racks, I broke down and went to the actual store. Where I broke down for real.
Just as I had been doing online, I only allowed myself to look at maternity pieces in the store. In particular, pieces that had dramatic red slashes through their price tags. I am not fishing for compliments when I say I have never felt so awful in clothes before in my life. Frumpy was the kindest word I had for anything I put on. So when my mom saw my eyes fill up with tears, she gently reminded me to not out-cheap myself. In fact, she offered to pay.
Though I declined that generous offer, I did drag her to three more stores–don’t worry, I bought her lunch–where I found the dress of my dreams. It wasn’t floral. It wasn’t frumpy. It wasn’t even a maternity style.
It also wasn’t on sale. At all. But it’s the exact dress size I normally take, and there’s no doubt in my mind that I will wear it again and again post pregnancy.
And you know what? Even if I never wear it again, it was worth the cost. Because this pregnancy hasn’t been easy. In fact, it’s the absolute hardest thing I have put my body and my mind through. I have refused to take the customary weekly bump photos. In fact, I have mostly refused any and all photos for the past seven months. Were it not for the adorable ultrasound photos I shared on Facebook, distance relatives and
my closest friends acquaintances from high school wouldn’t even know I was pregnant.
I simply wanted to get through being pregnant and enjoy my baby. But this weekend, I took a photo in that dress. And I smiled a real smile when I saw it. And that feeling was far, far greater than when we scored a hand me down Pack N Play for free or anything else frugality has brought me.
Setting a New Goal
As I’ve spent the better part of the past six months staring down these hefty expenses, a new goal has pushed its way to the forefront of my mind. I don’t want to know 87 different ways to be a bridesmaid for less. I don’t need someone to justify in 1000 words giving my presence, not a present. I want to buy the damn gift. I want to pay someone to do my hair. And I want to look back at my baby shower photos and see smiles.
Instead of trying to figure out how to cut costs to the bone all the time, I want Mr. P and me to get to a point in our lives where I can stuff the envelope or swipe a credit card without remorse. Not an ounce, not a drop. And you know what, friends? I think that time is now.
Because nobody should feel guilty for supporting their loved ones however they best see fit and nobody should feel bad for indulging from time to time.
So Tell Me…Have you ever turned your back on frugality for a moment? Or longer?