We are one of those fortunate folks who aren't worried about losing a job, paying a mortgage, or making ends meet. Not that we haven't been in that position before, mind you. Only that having already managed to sell our house in this dismal market and both possessing jobs that are more recession-proof than most, we are on the lucky side.
The trick--for me, not for Jason--is to stay on the same budget that we started last June even though our expenses are dramatically lower than they've ever been. It's the same budget that didn't include my paycheck and did include a mortgage, property taxes, and an electrical bill for a non-energy efficient house. The same budget that allowed us to eat meat (other than chicken) every other month. It kills me not to splurge on items I've always wanted, like Ben & Jerry's ice cream (never had it, but everybody says it's delicious) or...or diamond earrings. You know. The simple pleasures.
But I keep remembering that we're saving for a house.
Those cute new shoes? REMEMBER THE HOUSE.
Curtains to spruce up the apartment? REMEMBER THE HOUSE.
A trip to Banana Republic? ACK! REMEMBER THE HOUSE! REMEMBER THE HOUSE!
It's a voice that plays in my head when I'm out shopping: We're saving for stuff to go in that house. Like the 42" plasma tv for Jason, or the stainless steel microwave drawer for me (and don't let that price on the website fool you; you can get them for cheaper). There's the new dining room table, and knobs for cabinets, and sheetrock, ductwork, and electrical outlet covers. Sure, those outlet covers aren't going to break the bank, but we have to buy, I don't know, 100 of them? That adds up. I'm guessing it does anyway. I can't quite visualize it in my head the way I can visualize those diamond earrings.
So we've been pretending we have a mortgage, and instead of paying a bank, we're stashing the money away in our money market account. It gives us an idea of what life will be like when we have that mortgage again. Except not quite, because there's no fear or worry or ohmygosh we don't have money to cover new brakes for the truck. It's the habit without the pressure of reality.
I'm not complaining that we're saving money instead of spending it. Seriously. A lot of people would be grateful to be in our position. I'm just reminding myself that even though I really want a Wii, I really, really want windows and carpet more.
I just tell myself every time I want a cranberry bliss bar at Starbucks, "Remember the light fixtures." Light fixtures aren't very tasty, but they are awfully pretty. And calorie-free.
Because after building the house I won't be able to afford to buy them.