Monday, September 13, 2010

Living As a Brand Name on a Blue Collar Budget

Everyone has choices in life. Do you splurge on that really nice house and drive old cars, or do you drive a really nice car, get a boat and live in a small/older house? Choices.

Some people, however, want it all. They want the car, the house, the job, the clothes, and most importantly…the image.

I grew up living in a home with a tight budget. We didn’t have many extras. When I first got married, my husband and I also had a very tight budget because he went back to school. We even went so far as to go on Food Stamps. I look back and wish that I could have decked out my first daughter in frilly dresses and super cute bows. But it just wasn’t feasible. At the time, I was so thankful to be able to get her a new outfit at Wal-Mart, it didn’t matter that it wasn’t name brand.

I’m thankful for those times. For even though I have those fleeting “wishes” that cross my mind – those times taught me how to be frugal and how to live within my means. I learned where to shop and what to look for. The word “clearance” became my best friend. Even now that our purse strings are a little looser, I still have a hard time spending over a “set” amount that is ingrained in my head.

I’m slowly learning to buy something a little bit nicer in a nicer store for myself. As I do, I ponder how thankful I am to do it “occasionally.”

I hear a lot of people talk about how tough the economy is on them. I hear how they are financially strapped. And I struggle. I struggle because most of us are walking around with name brand purses and shoes. I see what we wear and I know it’s not from Wal-Mart, K-Mart or Target but instead, a very high priced department store. I listen to how we talk about where we went for dinner last week with friends and where we are planning on going this week with friends. And I hear how we discuss all the latest movies.

It seems to me that we are stuck in this quest of “image.” We feel we need to look, move, and act as if we are name brand material even though we are living on a blue-collar budget. I still have hand-me-down furniture that I’m trying to replace and I often watch home movies and see that my husband or I still have that shirt from 5 years ago. We are not poor – for the most part; we simply use what we have until it wears out, falls apart, or breaks.

My children are growing up and that makes spending even tougher. I want my children to fit in and belong yet I can’t always afford the latest styles and trends. I want them to learn how to be wise with their money.

I don’t think most people would guess where my family shops by the way we look. We shop pretty much everywhere. But we do it based on how much we have to spend at a certain time. I’ve learned how to shop “up” and how to shop “down.” Basically for me, that means how to get nice stuff at the more inexpensive stores and how to buy things on sale and clearance at the nicer stores! It works for our budget at this season of our lives.

Sure, we’d all love to be wearing name brand stuff. But we have to “make do.” It doesn’t matter if something is on sale if you’re still spending too much money on the item!

Let’s face it – most of us are living on blue-collar salaries. There aren’t too many of us who can buy what we want, when we want. So let’s stop grumbling about having no money when it’s us that is spending it on name brand cosmetics and jeans! Trust me, you can still look cute and darling by shopping within your means – just shop wisely.


Anonymous said...

Cute picture! Looks like a fun day of shopping too :D

Faith Imagined said...

Great post and I totally agree with your point. I think your approach to name brands is very sensible.

Zhanna said...

I will never understand peoples obsession with name brands. Even if I had the money to spend, I just can't bring myself to purchase $100 shoes when there are children out there going to sleep hungry. Finding our worth in the stuff we own is just plain foolish to me. I have learned throughout the years that it is all meaningless and instead I strive to enjoy life in the simple things. Don't get me wrong, I love buying clothes and shoes and things for my home. But I have always been frugal about it. Finding the best deal possible is my motto.

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

I agree. I think our spending reflects our priorities! I'm glad you commented on my blog so I could find yours!