How Avoiding Vanity Has Saved Me Thousands of Dollars

Facebook is certainly a time suck, but it can also be a fun way to catch up with old friends and even high school acquaintances.  Just yesterday, I followed a rabbit hole of people I had known in high school, which ultimately led to Kimmie’s page.

Where Beauty and Fashion Meet

I’m sure you had a Kimmie in your high school.  She is pretty–perhaps beautiful.  She wears stylish clothes and is one of the most popular girls in high school.  Her parents have a lot of money and are happy to spend that money on their kids.

The Kimmie I went to school with married her high school sweetheart, who was a popular prep himself.  Thanks to their Facebook pages, I see that they now have three equally beautiful children.

What struck me most, though, was how pretty Kimmie still is.  Some popular,  pretty high school girls don’t age well, but at 42, Kimmie is just as pretty, if not prettier, than she was in high school.  She looks like she could be a model for a fashionable clothing line.  Not just because of her face, but because of the stylish, chic way she dressed.

For a moment, a part of me was a bit envious of her put together, stylish look.  But that thought quickly disappeared because I have neither the time nor the inclination to be a fashion plate like Kimmie.  (Besides, there’s no way I could pull that look off as well as she does!)

Avoiding Vanity Saved Me ThousandsHow Not Being Vain Has Saved Me Thousands of Dollars

Women like Kimmie make looking beautiful easy, but I know a lot of time goes into picking just the right clothes, make up, and hair styles.  I also know it can be very expensive.

Thanks to my lack of vanity and acceptance that I will never be one of the Kimmie’s of the world, I estimate I’ve saved thousands of dollars.

Here are some of the ways:

Embrace the Features I Have

I would love, love, love to have naturally straight hair, but I was born with naturally curly hair that has become curlier after each pregnancy.  Rather than spending time and money straightening my hair regularly, I instead bought a bottle of hair gel to tame the curls and make them more manageable.  This one bottle lasts forever!

Take Advantage of DIY

My hair began to go grey when I was 23, long before I had children.  By 25, I had to have it dyed for the first time to cover up the grey.  I had my hair dyed professionally for about six years.  However, for the last ten years, my husband has dyed it for me at home.  Every time he does so, we easily save $40 to $60.

Avoid Being a Trend Follower

I tend to rely on the same classic clothes and colors.  I don’t follow trends.  This allows me to wear the same clothes for years without looking particularly in or out of style at any moment.  This also allows me to buy classic pieces at garage sales and second hand stores for a fraction of the retail price.

A Kimmie I will never be, nor do I want to.  Instead, I rely on practicality, and doing so has saved me thousands of dollars.

How do you cut costs on personal appearance, care, and grooming?  If you like to follow fashion trends, how do you keep it affordable?

How Much “Stuff” Do You Own?

Every few years or so the discussion in my house comes back around to how we’ve seemingly outgrown our house.  It’s about 12oo square feet, and there are currently 2 adults and 2 children living in it.  It can get cramped.  Sometimes more than others.   But, I try to remind myself that the people we bought the house from somehow managed to raise 4 children in the home.  How?  I have no idea.

We have a bunch of “stuff”

I think that one of the major differences between the couple that lived here before us raised their children in a different age.  It was an age of far less consumerist tendencies.  And, even with our increased awareness of consumerism, we still seem to accumulate stuff regularly.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I contribute almost as much to the problem as anyone else.  I’m frugal to a fault, but there are plenty of things that I accumulate that fit within those frugal means.  Books would be the primary culprit.  I’ve been better lately, buying books for my kindle more often, but I still have quite a bit of books that are hanging out on shelves.

Aside from the books, we’ve also got an entire shelf full of DVD movies.  We probably only watch about 4-5 of them with any sort of regularity.  And they’re all kids movies.  I can’t tell you the last time any of the adults here watched any of the adult DVDs.  It’s hard enough for us to find our time to watch The Walking Dead.

There’s so much other “stuff” that we just don’t need.  Every so often, we go through and clean a bunch of stuff out, and minimize a whole bunch of “stuff” out of our lives.  And, slowly, it all creeps right back in.  Either through gifts, or through replacement with other new things, it eventually grows to the same size.  I suppose it’s because it’s not really a “necessity” that we keep the minimalism up.

It’s nice to have a certain level of creature comforts around.  Things that we simply don’t need, but that we use once in a while.

Too Much StuffHow wonderful would that be?  Nothing that isn’t specifically useful, or that you don’t think is beautiful.  Of course, that means you’d have to find out how you define useful.  Beautiful is easy to define, even though it’s definition is a little different from person to person.  Useful, though?  That’s a different story.  At it’s simplest, you can probably define useful as something that you use daily.  Or maybe it’s something that you use weekly.  Or monthly?  Well, maybe it’s not so easy…

What You Want Balanced By What You Need

If you’re reading this article, you’ve likely read other articles.  And if you’ve read other articles, you’ve likely also read a few about people who live in incredibly small spaces.  Those are people who’ve really, really managed to discover just how much they really need.  The rest of us likely are living with so much “stuff” we don’t really need.  And, if we’re living with so much “stuff” that we don’t need, maybe it’s just the natural path of things.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to believe that it’s just “natural”.  I think we accumulate “stuff”, even if it’s subconsciously, just because we can.  Because we don’t have any good reason to live minimally.  That would require work.  That would require some commitment.

And frankly, work and commitment are something that most of us aren’t willing to give to our “stuff”.  We’ve got better places to put our time and efforts.  But, we can take small steps.

What steps do you take to make your “stuff” more minimal?

Do We Inflict Peer Pressure On Ourselves?

When my husband and I got married, we were flat broke.  Broke.  We bought the cheapest wedding bands that we could find, and my diamond is small.  However, that was my preference.  I wanted to stay within budget, and I personally like smaller diamonds rather than the big rocks that some women wear.  (All I could think was that when I had babies, I’d accidentally scratch them with a big ring.)

Still, there have been times that I’ve been in the presence of a group of women, each with a huge rock on her hand, and I’ve been a bit embarrassed by my small diamond.  I’ve wondered what other people thought of us and our financial situation.

Peer Pressure Doesn’t End in High School

In high school, peer pressure is at its peak.  If you want to be popular, you have to follow what the other kids are doing.  I didn’t cave to peer pressure often.  Instead, I had a few close friends, and I followed the path that was important to me.  I was relieved when I graduated because I thought the peer pressure would finally be done.

In college, I found that the peer pressure did relent.  People would respect your choice if you didn’t do what they were doing.

However, as I got older, I began to realize that there are societal norms that you’re expected to maintain.  This becomes the “keeping up with the Jones'” phenomenon.

The Pressure Becomes Internalized

Self Inflicted Peer PressureMy husband and I are digging our way out of serious debt.  We are scrimping and saving, knowing that in a few short years we will be out of debt and can start fresh.  We can have all of our money be our own once we’re out of debt.

Meanwhile, we drive a 10 year old minivan with over 125,000 miles on it.  I wear my small diamond ring, which I don’t ever plan to replace with a bigger version.  We rent an apartment instead of owning a home.

No one is pressuring me to spend money that we don’t have.  No one is passing judgment on us (at least not to us directly).  But it’s hard not to look at other people’s lives and see the “stuff” that they have.  The nice cars.  The nice home with brand new furniture and a manicured lawn.

No one is telling me I’m failing, but I feel it sometimes.  I feel that I’m not living up to society’s standards.  I can see how easy it is to want to keep up with the Jones’, even if you can’t afford it.  I can see how easy it is to pull out the plastic just this once because you’ve been scrimping and saving and just want to be like other people once in a while.

For the people who can afford it, there is no danger in this.  For the people who can’t afford it, there’s just debt and heartache.  You might then be just like those you want to be like.

Me, I’ll keep resisting the peer pressure, even though now it’s mostly pressure I put on myself.