Frugality and Gratitude and Family and Priorities
We hit a big milestone this week in the Frugalette household. My 17-year-old daughter got her driver's license.
She goes to a high school that is about 15 miles from our house. It isn't in our school district (it is a regional public school that is classified as a vocational/technical school) so there is no school bus to take her to school. In addition, she goes to an internship two days a week instead of going to school and her internship is 20 miles from our house. She really needs a car to be able to get to school and her internship without spending hours on the public bus. I was able to give her the paid off 2008 Honda CRV that I had been driving and buy a new car for myself.
Since my daughter was very young, my mother has been promising her that she would give her whatever super-cute car my mother was driving at the time when she was old enough to drive. In the meantime, I saw my mother trading up her cars every couple of years, financing both used and new cars and even entering a lease for her last car. She always complains that she is broke but that didn't stop her getting a new car regularly. I knew that she was never going to be able to give a car to anyone.
In the meantime, I bought my sensible CRV in 2008. It was the first time I had owned a new car. I paid it off and maintained it well and now I have a safe, reliable car I can pass on to my daughter to get her to school and back.
I did buy another new car and finance that but it's also a safe, sensible car (2017 Subaru Forrester) that I expect to pay off and then continue to drive for many years to come. I know that is not the most frugal option but it is MORE frugal than other options. I guess I'm grading myself on a curve. I could be worse!
What does this have to do with frugality and gratitude? I'm grateful that I had a fully paid off car to give to my daughter and that I could easily afford to buy a new car and insure both cars. I'm a single mother and I don't receive any child support or alimony. I make a good living but I've also made some good choices. I know what it feels like to make bad choices and not be able to meet your obligations and I'm so grateful that I turned that around. I'm grateful I'm able to do things for my daughter.
I can give another example. My ex-husband is in a creative field and he's generally been underemployed almost since the day my daughter was born (thus, no child support). My daughter is interested in pursuing a career in a creative field, too. The other night at dinner, her father encouraged her to take a fundamentals of drawing class at a local well-regarded art school because she doesn't have any traditional art training. They offer classes in the summer and my daughter let me know she wanted to take a class. The class costs several hundred dollars. If I really wanted to be difficult, I could ask my ex-husband if he was going to pay for the class he recommended she take but, honestly, I won't do that. I can afford it. It's not super-frugal but I want to be able to provide her the things she needs for her future.
I know there are some in the frugality community who will question every choice I've made here and I'm OK with that. I'm opening up my life to the public and I can take it if someone disagrees with my choices. I consider this a journey and I'm questioning these choices myself.
There are things that I can do better on my frugal journey. I've been falling back on eating out too much this month, for example. I will continue to work to rein in those things. However, I won't regret decisions I've made to help my daughter, even if there were more frugal choices I could have made. I'm striving to find balance.