When I was a little girl, I bought a nice big box of those 64 crayons (we weren’t yet up to 128, though I might’ve bought that when I got older). It had so many beautiful colors and things I hadn’t even dreamed about when I was really little, like gold & silver. It had a peach color which was at least closer to my skin than the white or pink crayons of my 16-crayon box.
I loved that box of crayons. And I almost never used it. I was worried that if I used it up, I’d have to buy another one. That would cost money. It’d be better to make this last as long as possible. So instead of doing what I should have—colored with the crayons I’d saved to buy—I saved it for more special occasions.
Looking back, I wish I could tell my younger self that it was ok to use those crayons, that’s why I bought them in the first place. I could save up to buy more in the future.
Unfortunately, those same tendencies have stuck with me. I was confronted by two examples earlier this year…one of which was salvagable and one of which wasn’t.
The salvagable one was a bag of chocolate-covered cherries which Micah & I had bought while in Michigan. The chocolate was dark and the cherries were delicious. I didn’t want to just eat them up, so I put them in the fridge and told myself I could stretch them out over a month or two.
As time passed, it never felt like the right, “special,” time to eat them. And so they stayed in the fridge…for a year. About 12oz of untouched chocolate-covered cherries slowly going stale.
Fortunately they were in the fridge so they kept pretty well. One day, after going through the same “not yet” mental steps, I realized that we’d had them for a year! That was enough of a kick in the butt for me to eat a few. Since they weren’t yet stale, I started having a few as dessert each night, offering them to Micah too.
It took us about 2 weeks to eat through the rest of the bag. They weren’t quite as good as when they were fresh, but they were still tasty. The milk-chocolate-covered cherries his grandparents had given us were too far stale, alas.
The second and unsalvagable one came to my attention when staying at my parents’ house over Christmas. When I was 17 (7 years ago), I’d bought a bottle of cucumber vanilla soap from The Body Shop. It was $12, I think, which was more than I liked to spend all in one place (I was a very thrifty teen, saving up for a $2k violin and a $2kish trip to Europe before I was 18).
I’d bought it in anticipation of my highschool Seniors dinner. And over the years, I’d used it when I felt like there was a good reason. So, 7 years later, only half the bottle had been used (I think family members might’ve occasionally used it too…at least my little sister). I poured some into my hand and discovered that the smell had gone bad.
All because I was too worried about spending the money to replace it.
The silly thing with all of these is that I didn’t need to replace any of them. I can survive without crayons, chocolate-covered cherries, or scented soaps. I proved that by not using them while I could. But my mind kept insisting that I get my money’s worth by using them only for something special or otherwise rationing them.
I don’t splurge often. When I do, I’m trying to learn not to make it truly wasteful by being too afraid that I’ll waste whatever I just spend the money on. I’m wearing that geeky t-shirt (instead of saving it for special occasions) or using the proper amount of embroidery floss on a project (instead of skimping), and otherwise enjoying what I do spend the money on.
I don’t think I’m alone in this. Have you ever found yourself wasting something you spent a little money on by being too afraid to use it up.