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An epiphany on frugality

Yesterday, after a lunch date at Jason’s Deli, my husband and I stopped by Best Buy to look into replacing my hanging-on-by-a-thread laptop that we’ve been saving up to replace over the last few months.

It’s been a long time since I’ve stepped foot in an electronics store and I was just a wee bit overwhelmed. Barely in the door, I was accosted by shiny gadgets promising to do just about everything but perform my morning workout routine (I’m still waiting for that to be invented!).

As I was browsing the aisles, seeing people paw excitedly over this blinking gadget and that flashing screen, and realizing you could spend your whole life savings in just one computer aisle alone, I was thinking about how this is just stuff.

Stuff that can serve a purpose, but can also suck your time and money.

Stuff that can bring some enjoyment, but which won’t make you happy long term.

Stuff that can aid you in your professional or personal life, but which won’t bring contentment.

Stuff that can clutter up your home, drain your energy and cost you an arm and a leg.

And right there in the middle of Best Buy, I had an epiphany: True frugality isn’t just about eating beans and rice and pinching pennies, it is recognizing that there is more to life than stuff. The quality of the life you live is much more important than the quantity of money or nice stuff you have.

I did buy a laptop (a Mac — believe it or not! — after being a PC girl all my life!), but I left the rest of the stuff on the shelves. Many of those other items might be useful, important or even necessary for other people in other situations, but, right now, I don’t need any of them. And I walked out completely free and content, paid-for laptop in hand.

photo by Moyan Brenn

Related: Get Rich Slowly has a thought-provoking post up today on quality of life versus quantity of stuff.

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122 Comments

  • Tricia says:

    EXCELLENT post. You’re absolutely right!!

  • Emily says:

    Interesting to read this as I had just read a similar observation on Get Rich Slowly this morning. It’s always good to get hit over the head with something twice:
    http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2010/08/19/money-can-buy-you-happiness/

    It’s all about the quality of your life: people, the experiences and the connections…

  • Shanee says:

    Good for you!

  • Summer says:

    Welcome to the world of Macs. You’ll love it! And if it helps at all, the lifespan of the Macs we have used in our home absolutely justifies the extra money spent on one.

    • Crystal says:

      That’s our hope! We did a lot of research before buying and finally decided we’d go for it in hopes that the extra cost would end up saving us money and headache in the long run. Only time will tell!

      • Jan says:

        @Crystal, Well, if it’s any help, every Mac I’ve ever bought (and the first one was in 1992) still works. They get outdated, but rarely die. You don’t have to worry about viruses, and if you ever run into a problem, check the forums on Apple’s website. Loads of folks there who give helpful free advice. You can open MS Office documents in iWork, which is much cheaper than Office (of course, Google docs and Open Office are free!), and the file translation issues of the late ’80s and early ’90s are pretty much history.

        • Brantley says:

          @Jan,
          @Jan, With Mac becoming more popular these days, malware for Mac is being introduced every day. Not too long ago, there was a virus Mac users were being warned about in a version of word processing software. New viruses and worms have been more prevalent on Macs recently then on pc.

          @Crystal, I paid $200 for my laptop and it works just as well as the $1,000 ones. Plus, when my computer becomes outdated in a couple of years, I’ll get a new one for $200 and still payed less for two computers then most pay for one. The thing with computers these days is that technology is to the point where unless you’re doing graphic design for a living (or gaming), you’ll be fine with bare minimum. Then again, it sounds like you just wanted a Mac. My wife and I go out to eat sometimes but we put that meal under the “entertainment” category (date night) so it’s ok that we paid $15 instead of $3 if we had cooked. It’s a matter of perceived value.

          Also, an interesting thing to note. Using the same hardware (dual boot), Windows XP runs programs faster and better then Mac according to benchmark tests. According to security experts, more areas of vulnerability have been discovered on OSX then on Windows. It just isn’t exploited because Mac has low market share… wait, not any more. Our first mac was the one before the power mac back around ’90-’91 and we’ve got both in our family. Both are good operating systems so if you got a decent deal on the Mac, you’ll be happy.

          • Crystal says:

            Because of my blog, I have to have a very powerful computer… unfortunately, the cheap ones do not last for me or accommodate what I do. We’ve tried and Dell has failed me 3 times. 🙁 However, I’m hoping to save at least a few hundred dollars — if not quite a bit more — by switching to a more reliable computer. The jury’s still out on that, but all my research shows that should be the case based upon my needs.

            Gratefully, the income earned from blogging far offsets the costs of a laptop. And it’s pretty much the only overhead (next to hosting services) one needs to operate a blog and earn an income from one. So I think it’s an investment which has a very high rate of return. 🙂

        • Shantique says:

          @Crystal It’s also a tax deduction for your business! So even more of the cost will be offset….LOVE my MAC’s!!

      • Sonjia says:

        @Crystal,

        I’ve had my Mac (I have a 15″ MacBook Pro- I used it in college to run graphic intensive programs) for roughly three years now, and I love it. No freezing, no crashing- it’s a real pleasure! Two laptops ( A Dell and an Acer have come into this house and died) but the Mac is still going strong.

  • Ann says:

    Love your thoughts.

  • Maria says:

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE our MacBook. NEVER had a single problem with it. So worth the extra money we paid for it!

  • Joy says:

    You will love your Mac- they are worth every penny!

  • ivegotcutekids says:

    Thank goodness God has taken away my desire for alot of the “stuff” I used to love. When HE fills you with his love, you don’t feel the emptiness that “stuff” tries to fill, but never quite accomplishes.

  • Merrilee says:

    You’ll love your Mac, and won’t go back. I would just add that being frugal also allows you the ability to buy good quality stuff–when quality matters. So you eat rice and beans, but you use a Mac. Totally worth it. (And “knowing” you through your blog, your rice and beans are good quality as well.) ; )

  • Brenda L. says:

    I too have been assessing, for some time now, the HUGE different between wants and needs and how most things we think we need are truly just wants. It is amazing how people, like my husband for instance, begin living and revolving their lives around this stuff. If only they could realize the little moments that are passing them by as they contently sit there playing life based games on these lovely little appliances.

  • Honey says:

    So true! Thanks for the reminder!

  • Jen says:

    You are absolutely right on the ‘stuff’…AND buying a Mac. Welcome to the Apple side of life. Three years ago we made the switch, agreeing to pay more for a laptop for fewer headaches. I have no intention of ever going back…the Mac is just E-A-S-Y!

  • Donna says:

    Completely agree! My oldest daughter thinks that we might be one step from becoming Amish until we recently replaced our console tv’s that were 17 and 28 years old.

    I get a little anxiety attack when I see all the stuff.

  • I do agree with you for the most part. Now admittedly I like stuff. In fact, I am frugal where I can be so I can spend elsewhere on my want-y stuff.
    Some people do let the newest gadget or doodad control their lives though.
    Rushing out to buy it on credit so they are the first to have it.
    My theory is that if you can afford it (which means IN CASH) and it doesn’t take away from funds earmarked elsewhere, there’s no harm in buying. It’s when you make those things your god (little g god 😉 ) that it turns into a problem.
    If you can put down the Iphone, Ipad, Kindle, etc and participate in life without hesitancy AND you can afford it, I don’t see a problem with it.

  • asithi says:

    I hope you joined their Reward Zone program and got back $5 – $10 reward dollars. I think it is $5 for every $250 you spend at the store. I don’t buy a lot of electronics, but when I do, they tend to be big purchases, so I usually get $5 – $10 reward dollars back each time with the program. It is like CVS EB.

  • Lynda says:

    A few weeks ago in Sunday School, I heard this, and it has stuck with me was this idea – Look at a garbage dump. Every rusted car was once something someone proudly drove home. Every refrigerator was once shiny and worked perfectly and the family that bought it was excited to have it, every computer was once “the latest and best” (16 MB! NO WAY! WOW!)

    It really puts a perspective on “stuff”. None of it here on earth lasts. There is nothing wrong with enjoying new stuff like shiny Macs or PCs, but recognize that it is temporary.

  • The moment I step into a big retail place anxiety kicks in. Malls are the worst. The volume of stuff is overwhelming; the music is distressing. For me, there’s just not a good spirit in those places! My thrift store apparel suddenly makes me embarrassed and self-conscious.

    I know malls don’t have this kind of effect on everyone, but I’m happier when I stay out of them!

  • You will LOVE your new Mac! I switched a year ago from a PC and I will never look back. Great post too, I 100% agree with you!!!

  • Tasha says:

    Amen sister! I could not agree more with you about STUFF!

  • Joyce says:

    Isn’t it all about expediently defining and portraying rich while holding fast the faith and being a keeper at home? One can be exceedingly rich in the necessity of eating beans and rice and quite the pauper in the ability to pay cash for “filet mignon” stuff whether a need or want.

    Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:19-21…

  • Elizabeth s says:

    Wow, thank you for sharing that and reminding me what truly matters in life! It’s so easy to get sucked in by all the new shiny gadgets…. I dot want my desire for them to rule my checkbook!!

  • Claire says:

    Did you see this article a week or so ago in the NYTimes: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/business/08consume.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=but%20will%20it%20make%20you%20happy&st=cse

    The couple challenged themselves to own 100 items each… TOTAL. Think about that! Definitely extreme, but a very cool story!

  • Lynn in MD says:

    I had a lunch date yesterday with my boys at Jason’s Deli too. I LOVE that place. There’s only one in our state. I wish there were more… but then again, if there were one close to our house, that might be bad for my budget, LOL.

    Anyway, I do need to work on that “stuff” thing…

  • Jen says:

    Great post…I loved how succinctly you put that…I forwarded it on to my husband…he’ll love it too!

  • Tracy says:

    So true! And welcome to the world of Apple 🙂

  • Andie says:

    Completely agree! It’s all about your perspective on life.. not about “keeping up with the Jones'”

    On a side note, congrats on buying a Mac! I have one and its lasted far longer than any PC I’ve ever had, which is a great investment in my mind!

  • I also think that this is a very important issue to address with children. In our day and age – the idea of “stuff” equaling “fun” is everywhere. Walking in stores, on the t.v., peers – everywhere. It is a challenge to try to keep your children from it!

    We have fallen privy to this mistake in our past many times and it got us in a lot of debt trouble too. It took us years of realizing that “stuff” was not bringing happiness but rather causing us to covet. We are trying to instill these ideas into our children, but its so hard to not slip into our old ways during birthdays, Christmas, etc. Its a struggle we will probably have for quite a while.

    Our current “temptation” we have is our 6 year old wanting to listen to her Judy Rogers music on her personal player so she didn’t have to try to listen to it with loud, running, playful toddlers to interrupt her 😉 She doesn’t have one yet – but her reasoning is quite convincing!

    On the subject of Macs…..we do have them for our work now as well. Thus far, it has been a good investment (and fun too!). 😉

  • motherof3nc says:

    I have owned Mac’s since the late 80’s and I have never had any problems…they have one of the best customer service departments on the planet! Enjoy!!!

  • Carolyn says:

    Thank you for that post. I came right to it after tearing myself away from the pages of new purses, wallets and totes on the Vera Bradley site. I have bags. I sell bags, and yet I still covet others…and then I read your post, and thought about it. It’s not about the item itself, just that temporary thrill from buying something. I don’t need the item or half the time, even want it. So I can stick with what I already have, until it becomes worn and weary of use. I’d rather save the money or spend it on an activity that will build lasting family memories!

    • dee says:

      @Carolyn,
      Carolyn,
      I’m a bag lady, too. I used have loads of Vera Bradley. Since I am downsizing my stuff, I searched for one gorgeous bag that I absolutely love in a neutral leather. I found it at the Michael Kors outlet. Then a dear friend gave me a Kate Spade bag for my birthday (silver bucket tote). So, now I have two that I plan to alternate.

      I’ve been clearing out stuff and loading a corner of the garage for a garage sale after the kids are all settled in this year’s college apartments. A lot of my bags are going into that sale.

      I bought new stuff (on clearance) to decorate the dining room table. I just thought I wanted a change. It is all going back. I don’t like it as much at home as I did in the store. What I already have is nicer.

  • Alyssa says:

    Your so right that all of this stuff is just stuff- however a Mac will change your life and almost do that morning workout for you 🙂

  • Abbie says:

    Thanks for a great post! My husband and I have been working on the “stuff” issues! 🙂 We want our kids to grow up knowing it isn’t about the stuff you have but the quality of life you live! We started with Christmas and Birthdays, trying to do more donations and less stuff to clutter our lives.

  • Jenn says:

    My cousin recently had family pictures taken and she had a saying printed onto one–“the best things in life aren’t things”. As someone who lost her first child a few days after birth, she of all people understands the true blessings the Lord gives us. You’re absolutely right…it’s so easy to get sucked into the culture that says we NEED all this stuff to make our lives fulfilling. And *that* is what frugal living should be about-simplicity and being content.

  • Amy says:

    I read a historical Christian fiction book recently and one thing struck me. One of the characters died and all he had left in his little cabin amounted to a single box of “stuff”. A good goal to have. Nowadays that would have to be a bigger box, but something to think about.

  • Wendy says:

    My husband had a similar epiphany only a few short weeks ago. We lived that life of buying all the latest and greatest for so long, but once our precious daughter arrived and for the first time we started thinking about more than ourselves and instead started thinking about our future and her future. Our decision was to really start cutting back.

    We have always had biggest cable package and the whole bundle (internet, cable, and land line phone). We never thought anything about it until recently. Just 4 short weeks ago, we cut off our land line phone and the cable (saving us well over $70 a month!) and went in search of an antenna. A what??? ha ha ha I haven’t had an antenna since I was a young kid!! My husband came home literally laughing out loud. He said he walked into Best Buy not looking for the latest and greatest (which was our norm), but instead an antenna because we were downgrading instead of upgrading. It was a huge moment for us both! We have not missed cable TV at all and feel closer to our daughter and each other, more so than we ever have in almost 10 years of marriage. What a blessing!

    Thank you for your blog and all of the hard work you to do to help us find the best deals out there. I so appreciate it!

    • Crystal says:

      Woohoo! I think you’ll find that you have a lot more time and creative energy — and money! 🙂

    • Meghan says:

      @Wendy, Depending on where you live, a $20 HD antenna can pick up all your local channels for free (if you have an HD TV). We live in Virginia and we get NBC/ABC/FOX/CBS/PBS(3 channels!) and a couple of others, without paying for cable or satellite. We don’t watch much TV but like to be able to watch the news or a couple of choice network shows and didn’t want to pay each month for a cable package we’d barely use.

      • Wendy says:

        Meghan, thats exactly what we did! We are using an antenna, but honestly I don’t remember the last time we turned on the tv 🙂 Its so freeing!!!!!!

        @Meghan,

  • I got that same feeling the first time I ever saw the inside of a casino. The blinking lights, sounds everywhere, wall to wall visual stimulation. It was meant to be mesmerizing and it was, but more than that, it was creepy to me. The futility of it struck me. What a time suck. What a waste. It depressed me. I’ve never been much of a gambler I guess.

  • Debra says:

    Absolutely true. And YAY for Mac. ;o) I’ve had mine since October and have had ZERO issues…how nice.

  • Bobbie says:

    I loved the post; you put into words, what I couldn’t. Something I’ve been working on learning. It was extremely important to me as I have been struggling with not fitting in with my in-laws way of lifestyle due to my frugality. But this was a perfect article at a perfect time. Thank you.

    • Jessica says:

      I understand that too Bobbie. My in-laws are always urging us to take trips and go out to eat with them, but we are in a much different place than them….especially since my husband’s been out of work. We’ve become more frugal and it’s definitely not the norm!

  • Lee says:

    You are so right! it is the mind frame tht comes from stuff. I am not so big on stuff, but my husband is at times. However recently he looked at me when his watch broke and said “I can wait to fix it, I have other watches to use. It is just a watch afterall”. (this watch cost $2500 and was bought 10 years ago before he knew me). I was floored. After years of me trying, and 6 months of talking about Dave Ramsey I think he is finally getting it. I am so happy and can’t wait to move forward now! Good luck on the Mac, we are probably the only set of people who bought one and did go back to a PC.

  • tonya says:

    Welcome! You will LOVE LOVE LOVE your Mac. Apple is just amazing. The products & the service, everything 🙂

  • Jessica says:

    Amen! and welcome to the dark side!! We’re a household of 4 people and 4 Macs.

  • Sheryl says:

    Luke 12:15
    15And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
    Great Post!

  • bethany says:

    My family tease my husband about his “loving” our macs, but it is funny how often they have to replace their computers, and how ours run for well so far still going and they are on their second or third pc! So happy for you and your new purchase. We are weeks away from paying off a major medical bill then going to start saving for things we have had to put off. This frugality is so worth it. Thanks for your inspiration!

  • Sluggy says:

    My mantra for the last almost 4 years, that I have posted by my computer is….”YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU OWN”.
    Cuts right to the chase, doesn’t it?

  • Stacy says:

    Love this post!

  • Page says:

    Amen to that. I’ve found that stuff can be one of the strongest forms of bondage! Thanks for sharing.

  • Karen says:

    Congrats on the Mac! I’m a Mac girl through and through. 🙂 And thanks for the food for thought—great encouragement as I’m working to clear out the “stuff” that is cluttering our lives and our house.

  • Autumn says:

    You’re totally right! In my previous life I was one of those fast paced, money making people with STUFF! Now, I’ve slowed down to be home with my daughter, unplugged myself and have just enough money to get by but am the happiest I have been in a LONG time!

    My Dad used to say “You think you own your stuff but pretty soon you realize that your stuff owns you.” It took a me a long time to realize what he was talking about but now I know its true…

  • Kristen says:

    We love our MAC, they cost more but watching my sister’s Dell die after 2 1/2 years and our MAC still going strong after 5!!! My husband even found a site to help him replace a fan that went out and then put in more memory and RAM. Our way of being frugal!!! It was really easy and instead of costing 100’s at the repare shop we saved that money and my hubby found it so easy to fix and did it in about 30 minutes! (He think he was very proud of himself, to be honest:)

    As for stuff the more you have the less time you have to use it all, a few good imagination promoting toys goes a long way for my son and he doesn’t look deprived at all!!!

  • Lisa says:

    Way to go on purchasing a MAC!!!! You won’t regret it! We love ours!

  • Janeen says:

    I was very recently convicted by the verse Timothy 6:6 “Godliness with contentment is great gain” I’ve known this for so long, but just yesterday I finally KNEW it with my heart and spirit and had to ask God for forgiveness. I’ve allowed “frugality” and getting deals and saving money and money in general to take far too much of my attention and energy. Thanks for your great thoughts, they definitely serve to reinforce to me that even though our family doesn’t have much money, we have all we NEED!

  • Bonita says:

    Preach it sista!

  • Thats the bad thing about “window shopping” or watching commercials or flipping through catalogs…stuff you never knew even existed is suddenly a “must have”. I’m not a gadget person and don’t understand people who are. There is always a bigger, better gadget just around the corner. (But, in all honesty, I never satisfy my fabric craving…I just try not to go without cash in hand!)

  • thanks, crystal. i needed this today. it is so true!

    and you will love your mac. 🙂 good choice!

  • Chelsea says:

    I’m a PC girl myself, who is waiting very patiently for this computer to die, then finally be able to justify buying a Macbook (shouldn’t be too long, given the average lifespan of a PC!). Our current computer was bought for us as a gift, so we will use it until it bites the dust. So for now I’m just dreaming… 🙂

    I would have LOVED to have seen you at the counter, paying cash for your Mac, and seeing the salesperson count all those bills! I hope there was a “stuff” person behind you just oggling your frugalness 🙂

  • Stacie says:

    Enjoy your Mac! I love my MacBook Pro.

  • Esther says:

    Such a great post! We recently moved (downsized) and realized as the movers were bringing in more and more boxes that we had too much stuff. It was truly eye opening to realize how much stuff we had that didn’t serve a purpose. After having a yard sale and donating lots of items to charity, we have settled into our new space without lots of stuff–and it feels great!

  • Amanda says:

    Amen to that!!! I recently had one of these epiphanies, and it is liberating. Stuff IS just stuff. Life is so much more than that. Great post, Crystal.

  • Melissa says:

    Thank you Crystal! We too have taken a step back and really tried to evaluate needs, wants, and absolutely ridiculous. One thing that always gets people is the barley basic service we keep on our cell phones. Calls & text thats it. It was freeing not having that Blackberry beeping every 2 minutes. It took me almost a year but I saved enough money to buy my first mac in 2008. The best decision I made. No extra money on antivirus software and no trial programs that I had to buy in 60 days. Takes some getting used to. I used the video tutorials a lot on the apple web site.

  • mamarolf says:

    I’ve had that very same epiphany myself! Its freeing to realize that the desire for all that stuff doesn’t have to be something you feel… we can choose to be content with the stuff we have, and let go of desire for all that extraneous stuff!

    Enjoy your new computer. Even though I don’t need one, I still have some computer-envy… my laptop is about the quit on me too! 🙂

  • Kristine says:

    Amen! It’s ALL gonna burn… I find it sad that people are lured into the fantasy that stuff is so important. Look what it’s doing to our country. Retailers love it, but the pursuit of stuff (and getting it with a minimum of effort or even not working) is sucking the life out of America.

  • Crystal Boyer says:

    I couldn’t agree more! I think you can pinch pennies and save money but still be “stuff focused.” Life is so much more than material things! I want to be rich in the things that really matter.

  • I think this is why we feel so good when we get rid of some “stuff.” There’s a small sense of a bit more freedom each time we go through the closets and fill up donation bags for Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

  • Darcie says:

    LOVE this story!! My husband and I just had a major blow out with his dad and step mom over me staying at home and not making enough money to buy expensive things that they have! It was so bad that they are no longer welcome in our lives because all they think about is money And we dont!! Thank you so much for sharing this story! It is nice to know that there are other people in the world who think there is more to life than having “stuff”!

  • Nicole says:

    Macs are the best (IMHO)! My husband and I both have a MacBook. They are SO user friendly, very dependable, customer service is great, etc. We use NeoOffice (OpenOffice for Mac) for text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, drawings, etc. It is free, and I like it SO much better than MS Office. Have fun!

  • Jessica Guerrero says:

    I have been thinking about this very thing lately… STUFF.

    This hits it right on the mark! Thank you! 🙂

  • Kristen McDonald says:

    I love this post! I came to this realization by boycotting products made in China (for several reasons, which I won’t go into here). Once you take China out of the picture, let me tell you what, there’s not so much ‘stuff’ to buy. At first, I found it extremely difficult. Now I find it to be a blessing, because I’ve broken the stuff ‘addiction’, and it feels fantastic! My loved ones are learning too. I get calls from my Mom, saying she saw the cutest thing for me at the store, but she didn’t buy it because she knew I didn’t need or want more stuff. She tells me about it, we smile about it, and that’s good enough. No ‘stuff’ needed.

    • Davonne says:

      @Kristen McDonald,

      I’ve been trying to take China out of the picture too! We’re not completely there yet, but I’ve been making a conscious effort to check the labels on things that I buy, including school supplies. We do buy a lot less stuff that way, since so many things are made in China, but it helps our family to be less greedy and to enjoy the things that we do have even more.

  • I totally agree, and it’s been a 180 journey for me. After college, I amassed a large collection of craft patterns and supplies. I rarely used them while working full time for 1.5 years because I was planning an OH wedding while living in IL, and applying to graduate school. Then I didn’t have time for it during grad school. Then we started looking for houses. Then we bought our house, lugged all that stuff to it. I used little of it because we were busy finishing wood furniture, doing landscaping and so forth. Then we had a baby. I also work full time. About two years ago, I started giving away all these things I wasn’t using, and it was hard at first but over time, it got easier and felt GOOD. Now we have two kids, I have two part time jobs and a full time job, and we’re hoping to move to a different home in a better school district in the next year before our oldest starts Kindergarten. I don’t want to lug a bunch of unused stuff to our next home, much less get a rental unit to store it while our house is on the market.
    So, after attempting to have a yard sale (failure- no traffic in our neighborhood), and attempts to sell things to a consignment / resale store (apparently, Once Upon a Child buys *nothing*– I had excellent condition, clean, beautiful girl’s clothes and they bought just a hand full of things out of six large totes over three trips)…

    I gave all the clothes away over freecycle and donated a bunch to Goodwill. I hope that by being a blessing to others, we will likewise be blessed when we are in need. Again, letting go of my daughter’s clothes was hard. I want more kids, so I might have to get a new wardrobe if we have another! But if and when that time comes, I know I’ll be more careful about buying too much. In the mean time, I blessed several foster families, families with out of work parents, and charities with my “stuff”. And God encouraged me in doing this, and it feels GOOD.

  • Jenn says:

    I’m surprised you bought it at Best Buy. Everyone knows, Best Buy has the highest prices on computers. As a deal shopper myself, I hardly ever shop at Best Buy. Also, there are many sites online you could have gotten a MUCH better deal on a Mac. We have 2 Macs and got awesome deals on them.

    • Crystal says:

      From what we priced online, the sale price we were able to get was better than what we could’ve gotten from a reputable site online (and we’re not familiar with Macs, so we were leery of ordering from any site we didn’t know to be 100% reputable). We rarely shop at Best Buy, either, but we decided to go for it since we were able to get such a great deal!

      • Caitlin says:

        We are Mac people and just bought out second MacBook from best buy. After much research it was the best deal shockingly. Enjoy your Mac Crystal.

  • mariah says:

    Wow, this is such a wonderful post. I totally agree. I’m just not getting into a frugal mind set, but I am honestly embarrassed about the way I used to view life and money. I’m also embarrassed for other people who still do. I know of 2 couples (same income level, same age group), very close to me, whom I will leave anonymous. One was frugal and saved; now owns 2 really nice homes(3,000+ sq. ft. each). One thought is was too little of an amount to save and has nothing to show for it. So you can see what a difference a frugal mind set has. For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. I’ve pretty much given up on having nice things, we just have functional things that I try and make look nice for cheap. Stuff isn’t what life is all about, but you can be frugal to save and reach certain dreams and goals non-related to “stuff”. I would LOVE to bring my family to a third world country. My kids would be amazed. 🙂

    • Lesley says:

      When out kids were in middle school we took each one to serve in an orphanage in a 3rd world country. They raised all of their own money for travel expenses too. It was the best decision we ever made. They are the most compassionate and giving young adults…really opened up their eyes and hearts to how the rest of the world lives. Great experience. Would recommend it to all. Blessings.

  • Terri says:

    Thank you so much for reinforcing what I totally believe. My daughter goes to a private school, and so we are always having discussions about “wants” versus “needs.” It’s hard in this world of instant gratification and gadgets that we live in to try to keep things simple and remember what’s really important — and what is important is not things.

  • Davonne says:

    I love this, and just added it to my favorite quotes on Facebook:
    “True frugality isn’t just about eating beans and rice and pinching pennies, it is recognizing that there is more to life than stuff.” – Crystal Paine

    SO TRUE!! Thank you!!

    And, we just cleaned out our school/play room and have at least a dozen trash bags we added to our September yard sale pile in the basement. We want to have less stuff so we can more thoroughly enjoy the things that we do have.

    Thanks for your constant inspiration!

  • Kelly says:

    Great post! I feel lately that we are overrun by stuff in our house! I have made a pledge to list 5 items for sale on EBAY every week. I have been going strong for about 6 weeks now and I am always finding stuff to sell we do not use in our house! Its not really about the money, it is just about getting rid of things. I did sell 2 items that sold for a lot more money than I thought they were ever worth, a cookbook I nevered used, and a kids DVD set that we never used. I was able to order my kids halloween costumes with the earnings!

  • Cricket says:

    I’m all for buying something new that you can’t get used on craigslist or Ebay. Especially if you have waited until demand has died down, done your research, and of course bought it on sale. My parents are very well off, but will be frugal to the finish. I say- why not?

  • Becky says:

    To me, it depends on the stuff. Some things are more important to some than to others and I don’t know that quantity has anything to do with it unless there’s an unnatural mental attachment to it.

    How’s the learning going on the new Mac? 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      Quantity does matter if your stuff (and your seeking to obtain stuff) is cluttering up your life and hindering your productivity, your peace, your joy, your finances and your relationships, right? That’s what I was *hopefully* attempting to communicate through the post.

  • Monica M. says:

    We just bought a Mac Powerbook as well on Monday. Right now at the Apple Store they are running a special…buy a Mac desktop/laptop and receive a Ipod touch for free (this is for educators and students going back to school). They also have a rebate for $100 off a printer when you buy a Mac.

  • Jennifer says:

    Congrats on the Mac! Sometimes frugality means spending more on something good quality. I hope you love it! Even though we are die-hard Mac fans, we don’t have iPhones, iPods, or i-anything-else because those are gadgets that we don’t need. (Not that those things are bad; some people really do put them to good use and get their mileage out of them, but they wouldn’t benefit us enough to be worth the cost).

  • Andrea says:

    I hope you love your Mac. We love them at our house. And, way to go on your epiphany.

  • Wonderful post Crystal.

    I feel that way when I am in the mall and for that reason I have not been there in forever!

    You will love your Mac. Well worth the price. It will last you for a very long time!

  • MK says:

    I had this same thought recently. We moved to a new area to be close to family and it is a much more well to do area. At first I felt a little…. of less value or class. Not sure if that’s the way to describe it. Everyone’s homes here are so nice and beautiful and my husband and I were visiting a new acquaintance and all they could talk about was this was just their starter home (which would be a dream home for us) and how their next one is going to be bigger and better. We live in a very humble place and when I came home I was so grateful to be home with my ugly couch I made a couch cover for, the end table we were given, the table we were given, the crib we picked up for $10… you get the picture. I was perfectly content with what I had and was perfectly happy with my family. They are what make me happy. No huge house will ever make me happy like they do. I don’t need to sit in a very beautiful home and dream of an even bigger and better home with this new friend. I can be content and happy with where I am now and what I have now.

    Anyway… support the mac decision. I LOVE My mac. It has lasted so long! I had a Dell and it lasted two years and then died.

    One frugal thing I do for my 5 year old with my mac is make books on tape. You can use the garage band application to record yourself reading a book (use a cell phone ring tone to indicate a page needs turned) and then burn it onto a CD, or you can export it to itunes with different chapters and burn that onto a CD. My son LOVES books on tape and loves when it is my husband or I who are the ones reading the book. We are doing it with the scriptures now and it’s wonderful because he has a new interest in the scriptures.

  • Lacey says:

    We too just bought a NEW laptop. It came in the mail last week. It is actually the first we bought. The past 2 we got from people who were just getting rid of them. My husband tweaked them to working probably.

    I personally like Dell, but I haven’t had any issues. Just throwing this out there in case anyone is searching for a new computer. We went through the Dell Outlet. They have the same warranty as the regular ones. Many are refurbished or returned. Our laptop was not in the dent/scratch section. It was actually new and had never been removed from the box. It is a 17″ with the 9 cell battery. It was right around $600, but I found a 15% off code that saved over another $100. Shipped from the outlet is FREE as well. So, I encourage people to take the time to look through the outlet to see if they find something new still in the box like we did. We are well pleased. The same computer would have cost $800-$1,000 elsewhere or through the regular Dell site.

  • Anne says:

    Hallelujah! Glad to see so many others agree about frugality! (and funny that so many of your comments are about the new Mac)

  • Marisa Stone O'Brien says:

    I of course have to weigh in on this subject.

    My husband works in Technolgy and is a “heavy” user of technology. His has worked with both Mac’s and Pc’s and his feeling is that there is no difference. “A machine is a machine” as he says. They are the “popular purchase” at this time, however, now because of that they will be more of a target by hackers. Eventually they will have the same issues PC’s do in that regard.

    As far as simplicity of life this is something we are dramitically working on. I was a single mother for a long time and to buy “stuff” was such a treat that I became a pack rat. We are going through all of our junk and donating to charity.

    Neither my husband or myself has had cable in over well over 10 years. We have even simplified our dinner menu. Monday night is Beans/rice(with a nod to Dave Ramsey), tuesday night is Pasta, Wednesday leftovers, etc.

    What we have learned is kids(and adults) need time with each other. The new Juicy Couture items means nothing if parents are not available to kiss boo boo’s and talk through an older kids problem.

    Thanks for all your great articles Crystal!

    • brookeb says:

      @Marisa Stone O’Brien, We have both pc & mac in our household. Dh has a pc, mainly because he just likes the artsiness of them. I have a pc because I do a lot of stats & data stuff and there are more programs that are pc-only or cheaper for the pc for that. Definitely just a preference there.

  • Dani says:

    You said it so perfectly!!!

  • Jennifer says:

    I bought a Mac a couple months ago & I love it! I wasn’t so happy with the price but I now feel like it was well worth it. I haven’t had a single problem with it & I use it all the time for my blog! We also have a desktop but I love sitting on the couch blogging about my deals haha!

  • Shelly says:

    Wonderful post! I actually just bought a Mac a few days ago and am really trying not to feel buyer’s remorse. I too did a lot of research and based on my needs, it seemed that a Mac was the best option. So far my only frustration is with a blog editor. I was using Windows Live Writer on my PC and it was great and FREE! However, I haven’t been able to find anything comparable for the Mac. Do you use an editor? I’d love to find something even close to WLW that didn’t cost a thing.

    • Crystal says:

      I don’t; I just write my posts directly on WordPress. (Well, the lengthier and more in-depth ones I actually usually scribble them down in my notebook as I go throughout my day and then transfer them from that to WordPress. Writing a rough draft with pen and paper helps me better formulate my thoughts!)

  • Tina says:

    Yes! You are right, dear Crystal. Just stuff. Way to go in “conquering Best Buy!” I conquered the semi-annual children’s consignment sale this week. Walked in. Looked at every rack for each of my 6 children’s sizes, looked at the toys and walked away. Prices were good. I could have gotten some cute things. However, the amount of stuff just overwhelmed my and I too had an epiphany… I didn’t need any of it!

  • Amanda says:

    I too left the world of PC and got a Mac book. LOVE IT!!! I’m never going back to PC.

  • Donna S says:

    Congrats on your Mac! I have been so happy with it! I love my One to One membership too. I love being able to pop into our local Mac Store and they are always willing to help me out. I have a PC netbook too and very rarely take it out. ( sometimes I take it on trips so I don’t risk losing or having my Mac stolen! 🙂

  • Lisa says:

    Love this reminder!! Love it so much I quoted you on my FB status today (proper credit given with a link). I too switched to MAC 3 years ago. The best part is it keeps going and going unlike a PC that gets a virus every other minute. Have fun!

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