Monday, October 11, 2010

The Weight of Money

My grandma sent me a check the other day. She wanted to treat Ian and me to a fancy dinner. The check was for $50.

There was a time in my not too distant past when $50 was no big deal. I'm currently debt free and make enough money that I can buy pretty much whatever I want. And I did...which is why I don't have nearly as much in savings as I should and why my house is full of stuff.

The check got me thinking about what dollar amount was a big deal. When internet shopping, $75 is the point when I start to squirm and wonder if I should really be spending the money. For Ian, who has watched his spending a lot longer than I have, it is $30.

Since I've been saving and watching my purchases, I've come to learn that I should care about every dollar. Because every dollar I spend on something trivial is one dollar not going to something living in Europe for a year or quitting my day job.

This new perspective is why I now believe $50 is a lot of money. Just look at how much (or how little) $50 can get you:

2 fancy dinners (really only one outing because Ian and I would be together on a date!)
4 lunches at my favorite Indian food buffet
8 veggie burritos at Chipotle
11 gallons of milk
45 lbs. of rice
100 lbs. of flour
250 bananas

10 fancy coffees at the coffee shop
16 regular coffees at the coffee shop
125 coffees at home (bonus: nutcracker mug!)

1 sweater at favorite store
3 sweaters on clearance at same store
10 sweaters at a thrift store

5.5 yards of my favorite quilting fabrics
7 yards if there's a sale

1/2 a day of skiing (lift ticket and ski rental) at local ski resort
1 round of golf
State Park sticker good for 2 years (sticker is good for unlimited visits to 74 Minnesota State Parks and covers as many people as you can fit in your car)

1 train ride from Milan to Venice
1 weeks worth of gas (if I drove a truck)
2 weeks worth of gas (for my small car)
22 rides on the light rail
approximately 1 month of unlimited bus riding

2 books (new releases)
10 kindle books (new releases)
50+ kindle books (classics, my favorite!)

5 tickets to movies at the theater
10 if I plan for the bargain matinee
12 movies at the drive-in (only 6 outings because they show 2 movies. bonus: watching movies outside!)
16 tickets to movies at the cheap theater
25 if it's a Tuesday

1 mediocre seat at the opera
1 ticket to a play at the Guthrie Theater
2 RUSH tickets to the same play at the Guthrie Theater
2 tickets to the Minnesota Orchestra
5 tickets to the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
25 Shakespeare in the Park performances (assumes $2 tip because I'm cheap like that)

As you can see, depending on your priorities, $50 can get you just about anything you want or need. I think my favorite thing on this list is the train ride to Venice...I just need to figure out how to fund the rest of the trip and I'm out of here!


  1. I'm a total tightwad, so $50 is a huge deal to me. I think having two kids plus only one income really forces me to be super thrifty. As a general rule, if I can make it at home, I won't buy it at a store. This mostly goes for food items, because as you know, crafting is fun but not always the cheapest option. I get all other stuff on sale or secondhand.

    I really hope you fulfill your dream of living in Europe one day. Life's too short to put dreams on the back burner. And then I'll follow your European living blog. :)

  2. I just found this blog of yours and read through the whole thing (you've been a busy girl)!

    Esthetically, I love well, not minimal spaces, but spare places and have recently been on a tear in our home to declutter.

    I love your ideas and am looking forward to reading more about your journey here.

    (P.S. - I also started a non-quilting blog - nothing to do with minimalism though - just stuff:

  3. I subscribe to Houzz and this is one of the things they sent me today. I LOVE it, and wondered if you might like the eye candy too:

  4. Crystal, wow, I'm totally impressed. This is another must-read written by you. Mark and I were planning on going to the fair tonight, which is NOTHING like the Minnesota State Fair, BTW. Anyway, we started adding up what, conservatively, it would probably cost us. We are staying home and using the money on something else.

  5. Oh, and I have a sad story about the Guthrie Theater. I almost got to see Christmas Story there (my all-time favorite holiday treat), and then got basically snowed out. Long story. I'll email it to you if you're interested...