One of the most marked changes I've noted in my behavior since moving here is my reluctance to spend money.
It's not that we didn't have our financial hang-ups and limitations at home in the US. But we are lucky enough to have a certain comfort level in our lifestyle that I have tried my hardest to not ever take completely for granted.
Not always successfully.
I would describe myself as a person who usually just buys what she wants, when she wants it, except there is a teeny-tiny little problem with saying that.... because I want so much, on such a constant myna-bird level (i.e. "Oooh! Pretty! I want it! I can't imagine life without it!"), that I am actually pretty accustomed to denying myself almost everything I want.
I have gotten better about this over the last few years, though, since I realized that mail order magazines were the driving force for many of my purchases. Once I started to throw them all away without ever opening them, I kind of just stopped going shopping unless I need something specific and then I just go and get it (sale or not). And I usually have to do those shopping runs on a limited amount of time, so I don't have too much browsing time, where I inevitably end up going, "Ooooh! Pretty! I can't imagine life without this!"
Let me explain: It's not that I even order from catalogs. I rarely order things that I can't touch, feel, inspect, peruse, or try on first. (I have a body that refuses to live within the confines of one size, feet that are hopeless and a very small amount of patience for the return process.)
The problem is this: I would sit and look at the latest Land of Nod or Pottery Barn or J. Crew and think about all the things that I don't have in my closet, in my living room, in my kitchen, etc. Or think about how much nicer my bathroom would look with that other towel holder, or with that fancier soap dispenser. Or, heaven forbid, I don't have drapes on those windows and they really should have some! Blah, blah, blah.... it was a constant "want-spiral" that would send me on random shopping expeditions looking for such-or-other to see if I could find one on sale somewhere and then picking up three other things that we didn't really need, instead, or in addition to the item I was looking for.
Starting a strict absolutely-positively-NO-looking-at-catalogs policy is the best thing I ever did for our family budget.
So that is how I operated back in America. But here in England, things are considerably different. You see, everything is more expensive here. EVERYTHING. Particularly electronics, which are my special weakness. Truly, though, things are so expensive here that I even think twice about buying pork chops at the grocery store. Especially when I know that if I just wait until Friday, I can get yummier chops for half the price at the Farmer's Market.
The best example of my new-found parsimony, is that I have been living without a freezer since our move last August. It only costs about £140 for a tiny stand-alone freezer. BUT that's about $230.00 US dollars, which I would be able to buy a pretty decent-sized chest freezer for in the U.S. And it kills me that I might not need a freezer at our next house and that I would be stuck having to try and sell the new one that I just purchased. So I don't buy it. But then I get fed up with not being able to freeze leftovers, cook meals ahead, save the last bits of homemade chicken broth, or having any damn ice for a cocktail, so I VOW that I will finally go buy that freezer....
And then don't. Because I just can't bare the thought of spending money on it.
Are you just totally and completely bored reading about this? I feel a bit bored myself, actually. But finances are something that we all have to deal with. And as footloose and fancy-free as I may have once been, it just isn't how I can live over here. Don't worry, though. Instead of buying stuff, we're saving our dough for more fabulous vacations!
We just bought our tickets to Venice, Italy for spring break. (If you listen closely, you will here me squee-ing wherever you are in the world, I guarantee it!)