This is a guest post from Sheryl in Ontario, who is 40 years old with a grown daughter, and is trying to rebuild her retirement dream just 20 years too late for early retirement.
A little while ago, as I was getting dressed, I pulled on one of the belt loops on my jeans to pull them the rest of the way up and heard that awful sound of fabric coming apart. Upon examining the damage, I found the denim was tearing along where the pocket was sewn, just under where the belt loop is. This was also my only pair of casual pants/jeans (Clothes shopping has never been a love of mine. I am 5’10” and finding pants long enough has always been a problem).
Okay, I figured, it’s just a small tear, most of my shirts are long, I can get away with still wearing these jeans. I will usually repair my clothes, but this was in a spot that I would have had to pulled too much fabric to the area, which would have not have worked. I wore those jeans for a few weeks like that, with a long shirt, no problem. Then the other side tore in the same spot. Still I wore them, but was a little more conscious of making sure my shirt covered the holes.
I didn’t want to spend money on clothes. I want to concentrate on reducing my debt. As the holes got bigger, I liked wearing my jeans less and less. Making sure my shirt was covering the holes distracted me to the point of almost being an obsession. I was more tempted to make impulse purchases to make myself feel better while wearing these jeans. I was allowing my dis-comfort to affect how I felt about life in general. My optimism was becoming pessimistic. I started to feel poor wearing these jeans. Fortunately, I realized what was happening and why.
During this realization, I started thinking about what makes me feel poor, and what makes me feel rich.
These are the things that make me feel poor: Wearing ripped, stained or worn out clothes (unless I’m doing dirty work or staying in the house), eating poor quality food, going to an event party (birthday, anniversary) with no gift to give, not going to an event because I didn’t have a gift to give, trying to make do with something that has broken, being around people that have all the material things I want, not doing anything during time off work because I couldn’t afford it, having my body ache every morning because my mattress is old
Conversely, these are the things that make me feel rich don’t really cost very much at all. Most things I either already have had for a long time (and were careful purchases at the time) or are more intangible. Most are a state of mind. The richness in my life would include quality home cooked food, knowing my bills are paid, having money left over after the bills are paid, seeing how happy the people and animals in my life are when I see them, using a good toilet paper and not running out of it, having a good health plan at work that covers massages, feeling warm and secure in my home, and being able to afford new jeans when I find them on sale at 2 for $20.
There seems to be a vitality in me when I’m not feeling poor. I’m more efficient, more energy, better decision making as well as a general happiness. I’ve learned from this awareness how easy it is to stop being grateful for the rich things in my life, just by concentrating on one negative one. I’ve also learned how easy it is to become cheap as opposed to frugal. What makes you feel poor or rich? How do you balance it?