For some reason I've been thinking lately about Personal Basic Monetary Units. Which I define as that internal gauge you use to decide if something you’re thinking of spending your money on is worth it. I'm sure there are people frowning in puzzlement at such a thought; people who simply go ahead and buy whatever catches their attention. But I'm betting that enough people have been affected by the bad economy and job losses that the idea of a measuring stick for purchases is familiar to more people than it would have been a couple of years ago.
If you’re familiar with the now-defunct newsletter The Tightwad Gazette (still available as a collection of articles in a book of the same name) you’ll remember the concept of the CPW, or cost per wow. Basically, you have to decide if anything you spend money on gives you enough wows to be worth what you spent. The book Your Money or Your Life leads you through the process of calculating your actual per hour earnings, by including all the activities that you do because you have a job as part of the calculation, so you can better understand how much of your life’s energy you are really spending on something.
I suppose the official definition of a basic monetary unit is ‘a dollar’ or whatever currency is used where you live. But my personal monetary unit has become highly influence by my Saturday morning garaging. These days, I measure my spending in cashmere sweater units.
Now, I know this was a very lucky buy, but a couple of summers ago I bought a looks-like-new Lands End cashmere sweater for twenty five cents. I think originally I planned to resell it, but it fit my husband and he really likes it. And ever since then, I just can't help looking at the price of practically anything and thinking, but I bought a cashmere sweater for twenty five cents—that’s way too much to pay for this thing!
If this sweater had been a once in a lifetime deal, no doubt I'd consider it a lucky break and forget about it. But because nearly all my discretionary spending happens on driveways, and I'm lucky enough that there are driveways to shop on pretty much year round here, the cashmere sweater unit remains a useful measurement tool. It's just because I can thrift every weekend that I need something that stringent. If my flinch point were as high as, say, five bucks then heaven only knows what I'd end up bringing home. I succumb to temptation enough as it is, but because my spending is measured in cashmere units, I'm assured of being able to buy groceries and pay the bills and put something into savings.
I have no idea if other people measure their spending this way. What’s your personal yardstick to help you decide if something is worth the price?
I did go garaging this morning; thought I might get rained out but the sky cleared and I had a pleasant, low key time. Talked to a nice couple who used to run an antique store about how that business has changed in the last few years, and with another gent about what kind of birds were flying overhead in a huge V. We decided probably geese and swapped a couple of goose stories. Across the street from his sale I tried to get a good picture of this nice kitty named Bubba.
Turned out Bubba belongs to the goose guy, and was visiting this other sale because a) they feed him when his owners are away so he likes them and b) he’s a cat and needed to check out everything for sale.
Spent $4.50 today. Yeah, I know, the equivalent of something like 18 cashmere sweaters. So maybe there are a few flaws in my personal economic theory! Still, I think I did okay.
This new bottle of hand soap may have been someone’s souvenir from a trip to the UK; I can't find anyone in the US that sells it. Smells nice, which is what I care about.
GAP overalls—a gift for a friend’s daughter (that’s right Linda, these are for Emily!). They look a little short so may be Capri length.
I'll probably give away this cute Pottery Barn fishy shower curtain to one of my children’s librarians for a Summer Reading Program decoration…
…unless I decide I like it enough to keep for the guest bathroom in the new house. I've never been much for theme-based decorating though (unless you consider yard sale to be a decorating theme) so this will probably have a new home soon.
These last three items are ones I'm hoping to resell. They came from some nice ladies raising money to spay and neuter feral cats, of which there are many around here. These two are Chico’s
and this is from Coldwater Creek.
Wish they were all my size. Oh well, next best thing will be if they can make someone else happy!