I’ve been on a bit of a shopping hiatus. While I haven’t done anything like a “no buying month” or “no buying year” formally, I am very much trying to reduce what I consume. One thing that I have had to consume, however, since starting my new job is health related purchases. Without going into a lot of detail, I ended up with stress headaches in the winter that triggered migraines. These headaches seem to emanate from my clenched teeth when I am sleeping and some (likely) computer related pain in my shoulder from writing and programming while sitting in bed. I’ve spent some (though not crazy amounts) on massages and related therapies. This prompted my partner and I to talk about buying a new mattress.
Mattresses can be expensive or they can be cheap. We currently sleep on my husband’s old mattress, which he has had for about 13 years. It’s as hard as a rock and we are both relatively small people. It’s too hard. Recent research suggests that a too hard mattress is not the way to go and medium-firm mattresses are much better. Once you go mattress shopping, you discover that there are basically a number of quality levels as well as a number of different types of products that mattresses are made from including coils and springs, memory foam, and natural latex. We (I) determined a budget and then ended up spending more than twice that on a natural latex mattress and even more on a slatted frame so it can be manipulated for tension and aired from below properly. It’s supposed to last for a lifetime. I’m shocked at the price.
On the one hand, I am disappointed that we ended up using credit and going over our budget (by a lot). On the other hand, we made a decade or more long investment in our health at 0 percent annual interest for 2 years. I like to think that I am buying something that I will be less likely to throw away sooner, which is better for the environment, and I also like that I am buying a natural product. Yet, on the other hand, I feel like maybe I am confusing a luxury product with an investment. How do you deal with buying quality over quantity? When does thrift include a high sticker price? What products are important to you and how much do things like waste factor into your decision making?
It’s purchases like this that make me think ultimately I am bourgeois-frugal and that is okay. When I make purchases like this, I want to defend myself by appealing to my relatively lower-middle class upbringing (I grew up in a trailer with relatively young parents in a pretty rural place with one parent out of work often), but I know I don’t need to. In fact, it almost seems offensive to do so because upwards mobility worked for me (yay education!) and yet, it fails for so many people. But maybe for those of us that have managed to find themselves with additional cash as a consequence of work and a lot of good luck (and let’s not forget the benefits of being white), the best thing to do with our money is to spend is wisely instead of pretending that we are poor — frugal or not? Interested in your thoughts. Leave a comment below!