Thoughts for Allocating Resources in Tough Times

Moms are always having to allocate limited resources, and no more so than now when they appear even more scarce. After basic needs are taken care of, it’s time to allocate precious money, time and attention to whatever discretionary options you have left. Here are some considerations:

Among things that matter to you, get what you really want.

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There is a time to settle for what you can afford right now and a time to hold out until you can do better. Examples of this are investments like furniture, flooring, cabinets, etc.  Often you can make do with something in the meantime via a new coat of paint or some hardware, maybe even finding that you’ve created something better than you ever could have purchased. However, if you know you’re just biding your time, don’t invest any more money or effort than is necessary for a stand-in and save your resources for the “real” acquisition.

In my experience, settling for something less than you really want is a downer not only following the purchase but every subsequent time you use the item. In contrast, when you get what you really want it just feels better every time you experience it – the couch you sit back into, the cozy pajamas in your favorite color, the bracelet you slip on your wrist every day. Your enjoyment just multiplies.

Know what is worth a sacrifice.

If you don’t particularly care about something, for goodness’ sake, don’t spend more than it would take to be satisfied. A couple of summers ago I was shopping with a girlfriend who was picking out designer sunglasses. While she tried them on (and I gasped at the price tag), I realized that, beyond polarized lenses and a good fitting frame, I’m not particular about sunglasses. I wouldn’t be able to give a pair any special care nor devote purse space to an enormous designer case. A penny over $30 in price would be wasted on me. (By the way, I’ve tried cheaper sunglasses, but I’ve found there is a difference somewhere around that price point. When the tortoiseshell coating from the last pair started flaking off in my hair, I decided I should upgrade a wee bit.)

Every woman has her sacred indulgence that trumps all. I know one who could care less about the rest of her outfit as long as her bag is top-notch and another whose underwear will be a matching set even if she’s wearing  yardwork rags otherwise. Recession or not, hair upkeep is not negotiable for some of us (how many times must we explain this to budget-minded husbands?), and it’s common for some women to skip lunch altogether to keep a manicure appointment.

The bottom line is, every Must Have is deeply personal and most of us find ways to adjust elsewhere to get our fix. Price doesn’t determine enjoyment, either. Haven’t you gotten just as much fun out of a great bargain as you have from a fabulous splurge? If your splurges are a little less frequent now, make sure they’re all the more worthy.