Thinking poor

Momma_Bird_OHFebruary 25, 2003

I'm reading a great book called "How to get out of debt, stay out of debt, and live prosperously". One interesting point of this book is to not think poor. By thinking poor, the author means thinking "I can't afford that". He says instead to tell yourself "I choose to spend my money on something else".

He also talks about treating yourself regularly to avoid thinking poor. It doesn't have to be something big, but you should do something regularly that is just a little outside frugal.

I've decided for me, it will be to get a dinette set. As you all know, DH has been unemployed for over a year so "We can't afford it" has become just about every other sentence I say all day long. We've also been married 15 years and have had the same hand me down, broken dining room table with 6 unmatched chairs since they were given to us for our first apartment. They don't look cool, like the unmatched furniture on Friends - they look like cheap, used-up junk. I can truely say that I hate few things in this world, but the dining room furniture is one of the few. I got a bonus at work, nothing huge but enough for a medium priced, medium quality dinette set. I immediately deposted the bonus to our savings, but I am pondering actually going to a furniture store and bying a table and matching chairs. I have been looking at garage sales since I started "saleing" 8 years ago but have never found any dining room furniture that's any better than what have. It wasn't until I read this book that I realized how much energy I'd spent hating that furniture for 15 years, but I have been unwilling to do anything about it because I always think poor.

Anyway, the book is a good read and I'm going to try to resist thinking poor from now on.

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Congratulations on realizing you hated that furniture. I agree with everything you've written. One point, if you do decide to get another dining set - make it a lot of fun and spend a couple of weeks looking at furniture stores. And don't forget to visit the "good" stores. Sometimes you can find a wonderful buy at the good stores. And don't forget - Don't impulse buy. Make sure you get exactly what you dream of. Good luck and happy shopping

    Bookmark   February 25, 2003 at 10:53PM
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It took DH and I a few years to find a dining set we both liked. I settled on the one we have because it was close to what I wanted and he liked this one....I do like it now and am glad we made this choice. I paid for the set myself when I was working and had saved X number of dollars. Now my big item will be a fancy lighting fixture for the dining room. I have the money saved but we are still fixture shopping. Have to find the exact one for us......I enjoy just looking and wondering which will look best over our table. I agree don't think poor...while you are saving for the item (whatever it is) look around and just enjoy the search.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2003 at 10:27AM
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Thinking poor is what makes you poor! It is such a drain on your energy. Life is ALL about making choices... do I need it or do I want it. And how much... .

We have a house full of old, hand-me-down stuff. Most of it has "great lines" but is worn. I had the matching sofa and armchair reupholstered. I had the free wing chair I stuffed into the trunk of my car on trash day done, too. I sent my grandmother's mahogany bureau out to be refinished and to have the veneer on the rolled front drawers repaired. And a double bed was disassembled, reglued and refinished. It was tough to make the decision to spend the dough, but the results have been SO AMAZING. What a lift to come home and see something beautiful in your home. I should've begun the process earlier, but was fixated on eliminating the mortgage... .

Do you have nice consignment shops near you? auctions? Those can be great places to find the perfect thing for reasonable money.

I'm happy that you're going to indulge yourself a little; it's good for your soul!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2003 at 4:17PM
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THIS was a big part of my Christmas doldrums, Momma Bird!

congrats on this insight and decision. I think when someone's in the situation you and I are in, it's important to do things that feel like a splurge. And to focus those splurges where they'll have BIG impact.

A new dinette set with brighten your day EVERY day, 3 times a day, for a long time! And it will eliminate that negative emotion (a "little piece of evil in your home") every day, 3 times a day, for the next 6 years!

It will make both you and DH feel more empowered through this tough time.

The stupid thing for me is that I've been thinking poor since I got married, and we have money in the bank. But we didn't get a really GOOD job on the floor, so now it's messed up. We "couldn't afford" to have the sofa reupholstered, so we've been struggling daily w/ slip covers, etc. There are tremendous costs to refusing to spend money. They're not necessarily financial costs, but they have a REAL impact.

and the point is not to save money for the simple fact of saving money; it IS to choose wisely the things to spend on (which means, no cheap plastic toys)

I agree, make the "shopping for the dinette set" into entertainment--you'll get even MORE mileage out of that money! Take your older kids w/ you now and then, and ask their input, explain your choices (I don't want to get this dinette set bcs the seats on padded fake leather chairs always split, and then they're scratchy, and you tape them, and yuck!; or I like this set because, since there's no apron under the tabletop, the cat can sit on my lap while I eat!) You can even get education out of this!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2003 at 4:30PM
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I should add post script to my above post:

While the common advice is to buy new and skip repairs/reupholstery I strongly disagree! It's always worth a question to the professional who will do the work. Our 1950s sofa and armchair, and the 1940s wingchair where very nice quality pieces (hardwood frames, screwed and glued together), the bureau is nearly 100 yrs. old and something comparable would be about $2K, where could I find a solid wood, 4 poster bedframe for under $500?

I undertook the above repairs over the course of 5 years. Why I waited so long to do it, is NOW beyond me. We "had" the money, I was just too focused on "saving" for the sake of saving to "get it". Don't get sucked into that vortex! Spending like a drunken sailor isn't the answer, and neither is penny pinching "on principle"...

    Bookmark   February 26, 2003 at 5:28PM
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Money makes a wonderful servant - and a terrible master.

Remind those dollars (marks, kroner, francs, yen, bhat, etc.) every now and again *who's boss"!

Good wishes for always remembering, yourself, who's boss.

joyful guy/Ed

    Bookmark   February 26, 2003 at 9:54PM
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Momma Bird, I hope you find just what you want. And I hope you really enjoy it! One thing I would say is to look around at the furniture stores & see if any of them are offering really good terms. I've noticed that a lot of stores in our area are offering great terms like $0 down, no interest or no payments for a year.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2003 at 11:31PM
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actually, Chelone, I've been reading lots of stories lately about how it's MUCh smarter to refinish or reupholster than to buy new, esp. w/ furniture. New furniture, even teh good stuff, isn't as well made as the old stuff (or if it is, it costs WAY more than it does to refinish or re-cover it).

Even something from 10 years ago is made w/ better construction than stuff from the last 5 years.

we sound a lot alike--I've had the money to refinish this sofa bed of ours for years. I'm only now realizing that I've been "living poor" by not doing it.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2003 at 9:54AM
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Thinking "I can't afford it" vs. "I choose to spend my money elsewhere" is similar to the idea of calling a "budget" a "spending plan." They're essentially the same thing. But a budget has restrictive connotations, while a spending plan seems to be empowering and completely non-restrictive because you're planning out how you will spend all of your money. It's so weird, because when some people (non-savers) write out a "budget," they're almost setting themselves up for failure. While, when those same people write out a "spending plan," they are better able to reach the goals that they have for their money. It's just a mind game. And, come to think of it, I bet there's an equivolent for dieters as well. When people feel deprived, they almost always fail to reach their goals, whatever those goals are.

Momma Bird, have you checked out e-bay for furniture? There are retailers on there, but there are also regular people from all areas of the country selling nice used or antique furniture. Some will ship, while others require pick-up. If you're going to have it shipped, I would suggest that you use your credit card, so that you can dispute the charges if anything goes wrong.

Talley Sue, for goodness sakes, if you've got money in the bank, get your floor and sofa done. I, personally, spend my 'extra' money on my home, because the cost of not having a comforatable environment is anger and depression. My emotions are heavely controlled by my environment. Not true for many people. Many would rather spend their 'extra' money on outside entertainment or a nice vehicle. Or, maybe, if they looked more closely at what really makes them happy, they wouldn't. This all relates back to the spending plan, and identifying what's important to you, and spending your money there, to eliminate the feelings of deprivation.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2003 at 10:32AM
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Cheolone, any tips on eliminating the mortgage would be most appreciated by me! I try to add to the prinicipal regularly, but sometimes can't-what helped you the most if you don't mind sharing? Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2003 at 2:38PM
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I took so much guff from friends for my single minded approach to the mortgage! it seems funny to have someone ask me how we did it... not just tease me about the choices we made.

We had a payment that was easily affordable for us; we put down a lot of money (nearly wiping out our savings) to get a mortgage payment that was "easy". In hindsight I'm not sure I would be so willing to do that, but you know what "they" say about hindsight. We were able to build our home and do the "finish" work ourselves. It is possible to finance "sweat equity" provided you put enough money down, but you have to really present a "good case".

We had a fixed rate mortgage. We "rounded up" each payment to the next even hundred, and we made a "13th." payment to principal every year. We would periodically pump more cash toward the principal.

We don't have kids. We don't have new cars, nor did we permit ourselves to "go" for all the expensive items that go hand in hand with new construction. I think the former fact is the one thing that made it "easy" to pay off the mortgage early. We didn't have to consider college funds, new clothes, music lessons, and we were able to work two jobs (we each did 55 hr. weeks routinely). We never went anywhere on vacations; we stayed home and we worked on the house.

I'm sorry I don't have anything "easier" to offer. We spent the better part of 7 years working like dogs. But we maintained good senses of humor and we kept our eyes "on the prize". But truthfully, I'm not sure I would have it in me to do it again...

    Bookmark   February 28, 2003 at 3:51PM
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DH and the baby and I spent the entire day today while the older 2 boys were in school shopping for a new dining room set today ( work 4 10 hr days so I'm off on Fridays). I should add that the only eating area in our home is the dining room, so it's not a formal room. We have a 1950's Cape Cod house, with the dining room in the center of the first floor - I feel like it's the most important room in the house. We also have a tiny, cooking-only kitchen (no room for even the smallest table).

Anyway, I found a table I really like but I don't care for the matching chairs. At a different store, I found chairs I really like that I think will match the table.

Here's my delima - I won't know until I get the 2 together if they really match. Even though they are the same wood, and "natural" (e.g. not stained) they still might not match 100%. The total cost would be about $550, so I want them to be 100%. I'm going to call back the furniture store where I liked the chairs tomorrow and offer them 1. I will give them a check for one chair, if they will hold it only long enough for me to take the chair to the other store to see if it matches - the "clinch" is that I will buy 6 of the chairs if it does match, or 2. see if they would let me return the one chair if it doesn't match.

The style is "mission" and both sets are rubberwood -theytype of tree that's sap is the basis for latex, it's supposed to be as hard as oak but the grain is much finer so it's better looking than oak. But, like I said, just because both sets are rubberwood don't mean they will match up!

Thanks for the support - I half expected to get ripped for wanting to spend $500 while DH is out of work - but that's just my mother's voice I'm hearing in my own head. I KNOW that both my parents and in-laws will have a lot to say if we buy new furniture now!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2003 at 8:47PM
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I can't imagine any reputable furniture store being unwilling to let you "borrow" a chair if you're willing to put up the "cash" for it! They want to make a sale... times are tough, and if they have your CC they essentially have your guarantee that you'll "fork over the pork".

What a great lesson to all of us your post has been! There is nothing worse than feeling trapped by a loss of income... and nothing more liberating than making a decision to buy something you'll use daily.

We toiled daily for many years before permitting ourselves to use some money to improve the aesthetic of our home. We waited TOO LONG. We worked on a budget that pretty much precluded "outside" recreation, how silly that we weren't wise enough to use some of what we had to make our "home base" more appealing... .

Shop on, you crazy gal! I hope you enjoy and savour every moment you spend on the hunt. And I especially hope you LOVE AND DELIGHT in your purchase every day... :)

    Bookmark   February 28, 2003 at 9:09PM
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You may want to check antique stores. As was mentioned earlier, many of the older pieces are built a lot stronger and I think most had more style. My sofa and chair are antique turn of the century pieces with barley twist legs. I paid $150 for the set and another $975.00 for reupholstering, but could never have found such a strong or beautiful set for that price new. Plus it is so unique and I get a ton of compliments. We got a cheap dining set when we first got married that I hope to someday replace, but I plan to look at antique stores first. They usually run close to the same price as new, but are so much better in general. Good luck on your search!


    Bookmark   March 1, 2003 at 2:55AM
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Cheolone, thank you. I too put down the most I could afford, I drive a 13 year old car, I've done just about everything except the roof and new furnace myself, and I round up the payments and try to make a 13th payment every year, missed one year cause of 3 paycuts (I'm in manufacturing and we've been hit hard). I only have my income, but maybe I can be more singleminded, this house pretty much has to fund my retirement; thankfully property values have risen quite a bit since purchasing it four years ago.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2003 at 9:09AM
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I prefer to think of myself as Frugal instead of Poor. And I make saving money as much a game as I can. I call myself the Queen of Cheap, half in jest, and partly because I enjoy seeing how much I can save by "shopping around".

To make sure I have a chunk of money to put on the morgage on my anniversary date, I try and set aside $50 a month in a seperate account that I call my bill account. I actually add up all my once a year payments like house insurance, car registration, school fees, get a total, then divide that by 12. That is for sure the amount of money I set aside in this account, and I try and add 50 for the morgage and 50 for emergencies. If I don't have any emergencies during the year, then the entire 1200 goes on the morgage. The nice thing about this account is when the yearly bill comes due, I have the money already set aside for it. I don't have to wonder where the extra $300 is coming from. It is far easier to set aside a small payment every month for those bills than trying to squeese a huge payment from one paycheck.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2003 at 8:02PM
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Great news! When I went back to the store to "borrow" a chair, they came down in price on the table that was my second choice, and I decided to go ahead and get it because it was a close second. I am so happy with the choice. The store where I bought the whole thing also carries a lot of nice living room wood furniture, so now I have a huge "wish list" for the next time I get tired of thinking poor! I ended up spending $700 but got a 48" solid wood table w/2 12" leaves, 6 chairs, and a 2-person bench. I am more than satisfied that I got a deal.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2003 at 9:04PM
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Congrats, mommabird - I bet that felt absolutely wonderful...and sounds like you got a great deal on something that will last a *long* time. Great job - I'm so glad you "treated" yourself!! :-)

    Bookmark   March 3, 2003 at 12:11PM
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This weekend we were shopping for a kitchen table and chairs in the bargain basement at a local furniture store. I asked the salesperson if the price on a certain set was the "best price" they had and they came down $170!!! I've never done this before, I'll usually just pay the ticket price and be done with it, but I was soooo happy with the results that I'm not going to be shy about asking for discounts any more.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2003 at 3:37PM
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Congrats, janet,

You broke the ice ...
...but didn't fall in, freeze and drown.

Didn't hurt much, did it?

Thanks for telling us.

You sounded as though it made you feel sort of good, ((into the bargain?)).

Maybe it'll encourage someone else to screw up their courage and try.

ole joyful

P.S. But ... how do we encourage the people that need the message to come here in order to hear the story in the first place?

Tell people on other sites, for one thing.

Anybody around here heard me talk about the joys of saving money by finding help to quit smoking (plus health benefits, probably longer life, etc., etc.?

ole healthful (and thankfully so, who, with weak lungs, started to smoke as a teen and had sense enogh to quit soon after)

    Bookmark   March 4, 2003 at 1:54PM
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Sounds great Momma Bird. And it sounds like you have no buyer's remorse. Sometimes I have trouble making purchases because I'm afraid I'll make a mistake and have buyer's remorse. I've even had non-buyer's remorse because I've lost out on something that was sold after I decided it was the right choice! Sounds like you're quite confident that you picked the right set, and I'm sure it will look fabulous in the center of your house. Enjoy!

OT, but I don't necessarily think that it's the wisest financial move to pay off your mortgage early, especially if that paid off house will be the source of one's retirement. If anyone cares to discuss further, please post on the household finances forum.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2003 at 9:28PM
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Excellent read. You don't need diamonds to be rich. I have refinished, recovered charity shop chairs I did myself. I would love nicer chairs and I am shopping around for something I can live on but it has to be within my budget and a good piece. Some household pieces are well worth having restored, especially if a sound, comfortable piece. We had a well loved couch recushioned, recovered and a piece of wood fixed to the bottom for added support. We got another 7 years out of that couch. When it finally got replaced, it deserved a break!

I may not buy everything I want - but I can say I want for nothing. I try to live sensibly and pay off my debts. Once caught up I hope to put the same money into savings, mortgage payments (because I am accustomed to not having it).

My parents lived through depression, fixed income, no credit, no credit cards. They managed and they raised us.
Why can't we do the same?


    Bookmark   March 10, 2003 at 3:17PM
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In checking some old threads, it seemed to me that this one is quite relevant in these recessionary times.

As spammers often resurrect old threads ... well, consider at the end of this post whether you consider my post to be spam.

I didn't just join today, which many spammers seem to do.

I'm not proposing some wonderful way for readers to obtain great service (while it may well be that it will provide a benefit to me).

It's my judgement that my contribution is on topic, and many suggest that often the post made by the spammers is somewhat less so.

This is my third post on this thread ... and I'm surprised that I didn't think of this issue during the earlier two.

A few years after our marriage, during which we'd lived quite frugally, but abroad and in houses owned by others, then we'd decided to settle in this country.

Following our decision to settle here and a move to a new location, one of the things that my wife wanted was a quality dining room suite.

She checked the classified section of our local newspaper, and found one that interested her, after an initial phone conversation. On calling again shortly after for some more information, she was told that there was another couple of calls, and that someone was coming over soon. Sue asked when we could go, and I had some free time, so we went immediately.

The dining room suite was solid maple, by Vilas, one of Canada's premiere builders, with a beautiful finish, set for four with cabinet and hutch ... Sue decided that she wanted it, and we bought it, paid cash ... for much under new price.

Sue later got an executive position and went to live on her own, and after about 25 years there was talk of closing her facility, so she took early retirement. After ten years having a ball, she, who'd been head of food service in a major hospital for 20 years ... contracted colon cancer ... which, ironically, did her in.

At the time of her death (five years ago) our young ones said that, in the ordinary course of things, their Mom would have retired in the previous year ... and I observed that, yes, and she'd have been sick for most of that.

After the break-up of her house things and the sale of the house ... I ended up with the dining suite ...

... that was purchased 43 years ago.

So ... it has a history.

Good wishes for taking charge of your life ... including your money. Choosing "frugal" is better than seeing one's self as "poor".

ole joyful

    Bookmark   July 12, 2009 at 5:07PM
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Hello joyful.....nice story of the dining room suite. It reminded me of when we purchased ours....I saved a small amount of extra cash from my paycheck each month for 3 years until I had enough saved to purchase our suite in cash. I had an empty dining room space until then but used the time to narrow down the styles, choices etc. to finally find the suite that fit my budget and my room space. Sure I could have gotten one sooner using credit but that is not the way I thought. Cash only....and I had to work at saving that extra bit each time for a long time (or so it seemed). For me it was looking at the amount saved and thinking....OK now the table and 3 chairs are mine......when the purchase time came, I got a fair deal and saved even more when I was able to hand them cash. The left over amount became half a mortgage payment at the time, not a great deal but still an extra half month amount that didn't have to come from another paycheck. Wishing you a happy and frugal summer. Budster

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 7:38PM
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Nice to see everyone still around THS!!!

My table and chairs are holding up nicely. Except for a few stray marker stains from the boys, they look as good as the day I bought them in 2003. If you've ever looking for wood furniture, check out "rubberwood" "Chinese maple" or "Asian maple." They are both the same thing. The natural color is a beautiful creamy color, with very fine grain, and it holds up like IRON. My grandchildren will probably be using this furniture 100 years from now, it is so incredibly durable.

DH has had a job for years now but has never gotten back to the salary he made before 2003. We've all adjusted just fine. For the last 3 years my "not tinking poor" indulgence for our family is a membership to the neighborhood pool each summer, $480. It is so worth it! The kids are there every day, I go almost every day and DH goes a few times a week. DH doesn't like to swim as much as I do but he enjoys hanging out in the sun. The boys do swim team every summer and have a great time while getting into really good shape.

I have talked to so many people in the neighborhood who say they don't join the pool becuase they 'can't afford' it. These are people who make a whole lot more than us. It's all a mater of choices. We don't go to Florida for Spring Break or drive new cars, but we are building a wealth of memories at the neighborhood pool every summer.

That's more important to me - I'd rather spend the $ on experiences than things. Things wear out and break, but memories last a lifetime. I think my kids would agree!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 12:09PM
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Hi again Momma Bird,

Nice to hear from you again ... with the update on your experience with your favourite dining suite!

Thanks also for your testimony of the importance of doing things with your family that they all love - and will remember with affection.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 2:34AM
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There are so many ways that can help you motivate and stop you from thinking that way. Always look for the bright side and be optimistic. Stick to your goal. Don't let money control you, You're the one controlling it.... Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 8:00AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

Am I maybe the only one who really likes eclectic when it comes to a dining table and chairs?

My dining table is an old trestle table, oak veneer top, with leaves that extend from underneath on the ends. I 'found' it at an antique store about 20 years ago, and have never tired of it, though do wish I had a couple of little places on the veneer repaired.

I love, love, love (really just really like) old wooden chairs, and have collected a big assortment over the years. I have oak, maple, and am not sure of a lot of them.
I have pressed backs, and spindles, and all sorts of backs as well as all sorts of seats, ie wood, leather (and horse hair filling?), fabric, vinyl, etc.

Not long ago a friend mentioned to me, seeing a beautiful dining room table and chairs being sold privately for a wonderful price. I think she envisioned how nice it would look in my small narrow dining area, and thought I might be interested. Nope...I really like what I have, and if I want a change, I'll just change out some of the chairs.

Here is the one with the green vinyl that will maybe get recovered some rainy day.

It is a favorite of mine and is placed at the head of the table.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 10:34AM
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chemocurl - you brought up another point - the eclectic look might be easier on the pocketbook for some. I too have seen some wonderful single finds (bookcases, chairs, etc.) at sales that others have snapped up and placed in their homes - and they do look terrific. It is a case of what your personal taste is I think. IMHO Budster

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 2:45PM
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