Have just returned from a lovely, low-cost weekend away with the family! We are lucky to have a number of generous friends who are happy to loan us their beach houses. As it turned out, the weather was a lot kinder to us than expected, but even if we had spent three days inside surrounded by torrential rain we wouldn't have cared – we were all well overdue for some quality time together, without the constant interruption of Noel's work phone. I can't tell you the number of times I have wanted to sling the darn thing out the window, or shout something extremely uncomplimentary down the phone to an unsuspecting client! Yes, it was good to have my husband back for a few days and the kids loved it too. Naturally we intended our few days away to be a break on a budget, but for me it was a real test of my Happy Hanna abilities. While the coastal town of Whangamata is one of my favourite places in the world, it's also one of the most dangerous for me. Full of beautiful people, beautiful food and beautiful things, it is frighteningly easy to get caught up in the holiday atmosphere and give in to all kinds of impulsive purchases. Indeed, this was the place which saw me squander around $500 on what could only be described as 'stuff' during a previous week-long stay a couple of years ago (see blog entitled Do you have a strategy to pay off your mortgage? and Should we fix our mortgage? It's a shame our mortgage is at a fixed rate until next June, I'm all impatient to get started!
The weather wasn't the flashest for the remainder of the weekend but we found heaps of free things to do. Noel taught the boys how to play chess (and is appalled now Ali is already beating him hands down) and the enormous brick garage made a great venue for all kinds of sports, such as indoor cricket, tennis and squash. In the end though, I could stand no more. I had to go and check out all the gorgeous shops to see how my resolve stood up. I set off on what I envisaged would be a lengthy browse of at least three or four hours. So the boys were amazed when I returned less than two hours later – which had included a grocery top-up at the supermarket! Sure, the shops were all gorgeous, just as I remembered, but as I looked around I felt really quite scornful. 'Who on earth would need any of this stuff? Where would you put it? It has no purpose whatsoever!' I thought to myself, trying not to show how smug I felt. I actually felt sorry for the shopkeepers, being stuck day after day in their shops of useless rubbish. It's just as well for them that there are still so many Sad Sally's out there, because if everyone thought the same as I do now, they would never sell anything! What a turnaround from the gullible Penny who spent up large there two years ago. Even Noel was rather perturbed when I referred to his beloved boat as his 'Sad Sally purchase' but once I explained why it fell into this category, even he conceded that it was so!
So I returned home from my so-called shopping spree guilt free. The only non-food purchases I made were on two Christmas presents (both under my $20 limit, in fact one of them was under $10!) I was feeling pretty pleased with myself and as I relaxed reading my Tightwad Gazette that afternoon, I had to chuckle at these paragraphs, which really summed up how I was feeling – and indeed, our whole holiday:
'Beyond beginner tightwaddery there is a higher plane of enlightenment... “the Zen of Advanced Tightwaddery”. You progress to a state of mind where you develop an aversion to “stupid expenditures” as defined within your personal value system. They become symbols of darkness that have been placed in your path to thwart your efforts. You know that you have gotten it' when you discover you prefer refrigerator stew to prime rib, not because it tastes better, but because more than merely feeding your body it nourishes your soul. You know within yourself that these symbols represent a larger lifestyle that will enable you to acquire the things that are genuinely important to you'.
I couldn't have described it better myself! So here we all are, home again and I returned to a brilliant and unexpected surprise – my Mum has given up smoking! Go Mum! Think of all the things you'll be able to do with the extra $4000 a year you'll have!