If Everyone Else is Doing it, Do I?

by Lindy on November 15, 2010

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Often I’ll be navigating through the financial blogosphere and come upon something that makes me stop and think, “do I need to do that?”

Do I need to kill my TV?

Do I need to sell my new car?

Do I need to cut my expenses in half?

It’s what some of my favorite bloggers did.  Should I be doing it too?

These are the things I’ve been rolling around with, but they aren’t resolved.  I haven’t decided.  Or, some would say, I haven’t made the leap.

For instance…

I love my television.  I love it on those nights when the house is clean, the kids are in bed, I’m by myself, and get to curl up and catch up on Mad Men.  I love it when A-Rob and I have a rare night off from commitments and can cuddle together while surfing the DVR.

But also, I hate my television.  I hate it at noon on a Saturday when Nickelodeon has been blaring since 6AM.  I hate that it can become a crutch when we’re all too uninspired to come up with anything else to do.

How can I love and hate the same thing so much?  Unresolved.

And then there’s our new Honda.  Yes, selling it would knock a big chunk out of our debt.  But the car isn’t mine,  it’s A-Rob’s.  We bought it so he could gain a little enjoyment from his 3 hours of driving each day (he hates driving).  And it isn’t really as new as I think, we’ve had it for over a year now.

As for cutting expenses in half, that probably could be done.  But not without sacrifice.   A lot of sacrifice.  Like finding a new place to live and figuring out what to do with our underwater house.  It probably wouldn’t make much sense to attempt this right now.

So I guess, after writing all of this out, I know my answers.

This is what others have done, but it’s not my path.   Maybe I’m making excuses.  Maybe I’ll reach my goals slower.  Maybe someday I’ll venture there, but (I think) I’m okay leaving it right now.

That doesn’t mean I can’t find ways to turn the television off more often.

That doesn’t mean I can’t look for other ways to cut expenses and slash debt.

But that’s what I get to figure out.  For moi.

What do you think?  Am I making excuses or being reasonable?  Sometimes I have trouble telling the difference.

Post update: I meant to express this above before hitting publish, but the words didn’t come together until later.  I just want to say that this post was not meant to be a slam to those who I exampled above, or to anyone who is going to extremes to get back on track.  Without their courage to do the harder things, we wouldn’t have anyone else to measure ourselves against. And I consider that a gift.  This post was just meant to encourage anyone who feels like they aren’t ready for those extremes that we all have our own paths.

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  • Lisa

    Everyone does their own thing. For me, I’m not willing to go all extreme and frugal and I’m not willing to give up certain things. What does that mean? It means that it’ll take me just a little bit longer to pay off my CC debt. I’m good with that.

    I have two school age kids and I’m not willing to make them pay for my overspending. So, we keep the tv and the cable and my husband and I keep our data plans on our iphones.

    I’m not living to pay off debt, I’m living to live. So that that means I get to enjoy some things that others might call excessive or not necessary.

    We work hard and are making sacrifices to stick to our budget so why shouldn’t we be able to enjoy a little of what we work for?

    • Lindy

      That’s an interesting thought about making kids pay for our own over-spending. *Pondering*

  • http://aloysaskitchensink.com/ Aloysa

    Well… people do tend to go extremes. We are in debt and we are struggling to pay it off, but there is no way we are going to cut off our cable, sell our cars, stop going out and so on. As you said we should be living to live not to pay off debt. I can’t be miserable all the time.

    • Lindy

      I’m learning that there are levels of sacrifice. The key is finding what level is best for you, and recognizing it may be different than another’s level of comfort.

  • http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com Nicole

    meh

    Though we’ve been pretty happy with no tv. But we meant to get tv and realized we didn’t actually need it since we’re not into sports and everything we want is so available these days if you’re consistently behind on show watching like we are. Netflix streaming is the best. If you don’t already have Netflix or don’t have something to stream it through, then running the numbers the dvr may still come ahead.

    • Lindy

      We’ve been contemplating switching fully to Netflix streaming too. We currently don’t have anything to stream to the television though. Might be another reason to push the iPad purchase up a little further. The savings would probably pay off in about 6 months. :)

  • Jaime

    No way! I hate this trend of “throw away your tv, get a bike, ditch your bike, go all granola….” No way not for me. Okay that was a bit snarky,I understand the reasons why people do this but its not for me. To each his own right ;)

  • http://www.movetoportugal.org Laura

    ‘I’m learning that there are levels of sacrifice. The key is finding what level is best for you, and recognizing it may be different than another’s level of comfort’

    Exactly right Lindy :-)

    I could never go without TV {I can’t imagine a life without Mad Men or Hugh Laurie in House?!, lol} but I can easily go without a daily Starbucks.

  • http://www.fabulouslybroke.com FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com

    Do what you wanna do, not what anyone else wants you to do :)

    I feel the pressure to do things like give up meat or to do MORE than what I’m doing now, but in the end… I like my life the way it is.

    I agree with Laura. There are different levels of sacrifices, and I found that once I started cutting back and thinking of things like Starbucks as treats, it became a lot easier to cut it out. I wanted to cherish that cup of Starbucks if I bought it the next time, not as a throwaway drink, but as a real treat.

    • Lindy

      It’s funny how looking at another person’s life and reading their opinions can cause us to put pressure on ourselves to follow suit. Why are we so hard on ourselves?

  • http://www.richlyreasonable.com Lauren

    It’s a quality of life issue for me and my question is: when does it end? Do you get a nicer car when you are out of debt and able to pay for it outright? Or does any luxury start to become a “waste of money?”

  • Jeff

    Stream thru a game console if you have one. Ps3 or Wii…

  • http://www.singlemomrichmom.com Jacq @ Single Mom Rich Mom

    Nope, not getting rid of any of the above. MAYBE the cable now that netflix just came to Canada. I’ve done the living on less than half the income thing, but it was ok because the income was pretty high.

    I’m with you on your comment above, I’ve seen too many people who started off being frugal because they had to be then get all “waste of money” oriented over everything. And what boring, mean lives some of them have had. I don’t think it has to be that way. The way I look at it is – am I willing to work an extra couple of days a year to have cable or work a month or two for a new car or similar. Often the answer is yes, I am. Am I willing to do it to buy lunch out every day? Nope.

    • Lindy

      Willingness to work for those luxuries – that is a great way to look at it. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://funny-about-money.com Funny about Money

    LOL! Didn’t sound like a slam to me — these are reasonable questions.

    IMHO, selling the car makes good sense when you’re 70 grand in debt and you realize you made a foolish decision when you bought the thing.

    TV? Well…depends on how central it is to your life. I found I was hardly ever watching it. Never could afford cable (to be honest, never wanted 60 channels with nothing on; if I had, I’d have found a way to afford it). If you watch a lot of sports or movies, it might be worth the cost. Baker does say he & his wife really loved sitting in front of the boob tube — but when they got rid of the thing, what should they discover but that life is better without several hours of self-hypnosis a day.

    Expenses? Hm. This pair was $35,000 in debt — not as bad as the 70 grand afflicting the new-car sellers, but manageable only if they’re making a pretty good income. If you’re really motivated to get out from under debt and you don’t want to or can’t take on two or three side jobs in addition to your day job, cutting expenses is prob’ly the only way to do it. I cut mine in half, not out of enthusiasm for any such project but because I was forced to it by a layoff. And oddly, I find there’s nothing much I miss. Life is good, and it stays good even in the absence of stuff.

    Sooo, in short: seems to me the answer to each of those perfectly sane questions is “it depends.” As for whether we should all sally forth and do likewise: just because one sheep jumps off the cliff doesn’t mean they all have to. :-)

  • http://N/A Frankbumalot

    Pff….the goal is to “Reduce Expenses, Increase Income” any cost. So, TV Expensive? Don’t throw it out, connect an old computer to it with a nice Video Card with S-Video/Composite cables, get internet, go to tv-links.eu or other torrent website, find shows YOU want, download for free, enjoy! Same goes for games, applications, music, images, etc…for cars, get a used car, make sure it’s clean and in working order, get really good deal on it, and keep very clean, maitained and you won’t have to worry about “new car wanting syndrome”. Find tips and tricks to get what you want for free…above all, get what you want for free or as close to free as infinitely possible. BU HAHAHAHAH!

  • http://N/A Frankbumalot

    make sure YOUR new used car gets a Minimum of 32 MPG or Higher City…preferably 40 MPG combined or higher….cheap cheap cheap!

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