First Person: My Penny-Pinching Days Are Over

Yahoo Contributor Network

With disappointing results recently from discount retailers that trade on the stock market, some experts are wondering where all the penny-pinchers have gone. I know I ditched the dollar stores as soon as there was the smallest glimmer of hope that the economy would recover. As soon as I began to feel more secure with my job, I went on a spending spree. For many Americans, frugal fatigue is a real phenomenon. According to a recent article by Daily Finance, shares of Dollar General recently took a hit after the company lowered its guidance. Also, several retail department stores reported disappointing results. I don't know whether it's wise to invest in Wal-Mart, Tuesday Morning or Dollar General. As a consumer, though, I know I rather shop at higher-end retailers and specialty grocery stores.

Shopping as an experience

During the Great Recession, I associated more pain than pleasure with shopping. Because I was worried about being laid off from my job, I tried to spend as little money as possible. As our net worth started to plummet, I did everything I could to tread water. I paid extra toward my mortgage in hopes of balancing out the rapid decrease in home values in my Florida neighborhood. In order to have the extra money, I shopped only out of necessity. Now that the recession is over, I feel more comfortable shopping for entertainment. I can't afford to shop at Oscar de la Renta in New York City or Dolce & Gabbana in Beverly Hills, but I can indulge at the local mall.

Being a discerning consumer

Instead of focusing on price, I am now a more discerning customer. I rather buy a more expensive, but better quality item than just get a good deal. During the recession, I purchased the least expensive sheets, pillows, clothing and detergents. I found a few "bargains" at the local dollar stores that fell apart within a week. I rather pay more for food that isn't expired than have to deal with spoiled or rotten foods on the discount shelves.

Getting comfortable with budgeting

Another reason my penny-pinching days are over is because I've learned how to live below my means without scrimping. I am more comfortable following a budget after years of practicing living on one income. Since we pretended to have only one income, we put money aside for retirement. Now that I have a nest egg for retirement, I'm not as stressed about our futures. Our current budget reflects our dual-income household. We feel extremely grateful for our jobs. I'm ecstatic that we have loosened up our spending.

Because we don't want to have to scrimp and sacrifice in retirement, my husband and I continue to save for retirement. We put everything on auto-pilot by having money automatically taken out of our paychecks for retirement.

Although I don't shop at discount retailers anymore, I still use coupons. I still visit deal-of-the-day websites. I guess you can take the girl out of the discount store, but you can't take the desire for a deal out of the girl. I'm craving luxury and fine things. I just don't want to pay top dollar anymore.

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