The weather is beautiful right now. I don’t think I’ve ever really had a favorite season, but right now I’m wondering why it’s not fall. It just might be, if fall is like this. (Although, granted, this morning I had on a 3/4 sleeve sweater AND a jacket and still sat at my desk freezing all day. But I think the building is in the shade. However, I digress.) The point is, I’ve been taking advantage of these potentially last few rays of sunshine before winter and walking like a fiend. (And, I know. I live in Georgia. Some of you have REAL winter. Like, with snow and stuff. But we still get a lot of grey days down here, and that’s what I really hate about winter.)

On Saturday I walked to Publix to pick up the BOGO deals I had planned out. (Come back on Frugal Friday to get the whole scoop!) It’s about a mile away, partly on The Path, which is part of a city-maintained park that winds its way through our and several other neighborhoods. I spent around $7.00 at Publix and saved $15…pretty awesome, right? Better than my usual track record. And I was so excited. But then I stopped at a local coffee shop on my way home to buy some freshly ground beans…and then I stopped at the local cupcake store to buy ridiculously priced cupcakes for a random Saturday treat. And between those two stops I pretty much spent what I had saved at Publix.

My first reaction was to be kind of frustrated. “Harumph,” I thought, “that was so silly. I barely even came out ahead because I went and blew my savings on luxuries.” But my second, more rational reaction was excitement. “But hey,” I thought, “since I saved all that money at Publix, I can buy these things and still come out a few dollars ahead!”

Because in the best case, isn’t that the point of saving money? Sure, there are seasons for all of us where we are saving and pinching pennies because we need to make ends meet, or because we are throwing cash at a Big Goal that we want to meet. And that’s admirable and necessary. But other times, we’re saving in order to get things that we want. It’s all a matter of deciding where your priorities lie. Though I could really enjoy a gourmet Italian meal, I also don’t mind eating spaghetti with Ragu that I got on BOGO with a coupon. And because I did that, I can eat delicious handmade cupcakes whose icing tastes like pure butter with brown sugar (let me tell you, I think it was worth the price) and drink locally roasted coffee in a blend named after my very own neighborhood. I can shop at thrift stores for bargain-priced brand name clothes but then splurge on a full-price pair of shoes that I know are good quality and that I’ll be able to wear for years to come. It’s all a matter of balance. And that was a very cool realization.

And as a bonus Tuesday Tip, I’ll throw in the observation that walking to run errands on a beautiful day is a win-win situation. On Sunday, A. and I walked to CVS to try and get some drugstore deals (I told you, walking fiend right here). The trip wasn’t all that exciting coupon-wise, but we got to spend some time together, soak up some sunshine, and get some exercise to boot. It’s impossible to lose.

So there you have it. Go for walks, use lots of coupons, and buy chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel icing when the opportunity presents itself, because your thriftiness has earned it for you.

Laura Lindeman

Laura Lindeman