Sometimes it’s food, sometimes it’s joy, sometimes it is whatever we want but don’t feel we deserve. Most of us learn to deprive ourselves from a young age. If your family is on a tight financial budget (or impoverished) there are many things you may want and ask for – but never get. You come to believe that all “good” things come at a cost.
Nothing is replaced until it has absolutely fulfilled a lifetime of use. Panties? Only to be replaced when there is no elasticity left or when the size of the holes out measure the actual cloth. Bras? You buy one and wash and wear it to within an inch of its life…then replace it. Shoes? One pair per school year and if you don’t outgrow them – maybe two school years. Clothing? Hand-me-downs from siblings and relatives. If you are lucky, you have an older cousin who lives in another town (better yet, another state) so no one will recognize the clothing from the year before!
To this day, I have a hard time buying something that I just “want” and don’t really “need”. I have a closet full of clothing that I bought BECAUSE it was on “sale”. Most of it I don’t wear because it doesn’t really suit me or has some kind of flaw (vis-à-vis the reason for the sale price). Several times in my life, I have been determined to ONLY buy clothes I like – more quality clothing. Buy less, pay a little more. However, out shopping with a fist full of dollars, I choke-up as I walk to the cash register with the $65 blouse that I know I could find cheaper elsewhere and also have enough to buy a shirt for one of my kids/grandkids. Just. Can’t. Do it. So, instead of having a nice, decent wardrobe – I have a hodgepodge of items that look OKAY, sometimes match and go to good will after hanging in the closet for a couple of years…
When we had to clean out my mom’s house – I promised myself I would learn how to get beyond this fear and the credence in deprivation. She had a FULL closet of pants, shirts and jackets that didn’t fit but she wouldn’t discard. There were notes attached to each item with a pin: “Too small”, “Too tight” or with what size they were. The clothes were from good will, hand-me-downs or things she had purchased on sale. Some of the outfits were very pretty but the wrong size – as she had every intention of losing weight to fit into them. Or they were so pretty, she couldn’t bear to part with them. In her lifetime, she didn’t have a lot of “pretty things”. We took bags and bags of clothes back to good will. Ironic.
Truth is, when you don’t have a lot of spare coin (or ANY spare coin for that matter) you soon find that there are a lot of things you can (and DO) go without: name brand clothing and shoes top the list. Fashion is replaced by basic essentials. When I was very young, I had no idea and couldn’t have cared less about fashion or clothing or deprivation and poverty, but my mother did. As I grew older, I began to understand. The shame was passed on to her by her mother, she passed it onto me and I passed it on to my own children.
In reality, there is no shame in NOT spending money on something that is as frivolous as a $100 blouse or a $200 pair of shoes. Even though there are parts of the deprivation that should and can be changed (for example, the way WE, ourselves, view it with shame) – there are lessons too. In this country, people spend an exorbitant amount of money for things they don’t need all in the name of “style” and competition with their neighbors and friends. Only the best sunglasses, underwear, bikes, cars, EVEN food at the elite stores and the BEST bottled water. Chanel mascara for $30. Oh and let’s not forget dog strollers ranging in cost from $25-$85. It is craziness.
I guess if I had to choose between spending ridiculous amounts of money on frivolous things and having a hard time parting with my money for frivolous things, I’d go with the latter. Of course, I’ve never experienced having lots of money to spare – so how do I know?