My friend Marta has an advice blog. Recently she wrote about how she likes to listen to all my grocery cost-cutting scenarios, but she never uses them herself because of feelings of deprivation rooted in her childhood and dread of "cheap" being part of her self-image.
My first-off response was that getting over mental and emotional roadblocks is the single biggest step you can take toward spending less money, especially at the grocery store where so much of our personal culture is wrapped up in what we buy. Just get over it -- easier said than done, right?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that although I have discarded many expensive thought patterns --
(like "My husband and I are professionals while my parents were working class, therefore we should buy higher quality, more sophisticated food than they fed me as a child," or "These organic cheese puffs are what the good moms buy.")
-- of course my self-image is still tied up in my shopping cart. Nowadays, it's a reverse feeling. Even if I really want or need a certain item, buying it full price without a coupon is just not the kind of thing that I do. This can be inconvenient when party planning or running errands for other people. Sometimes it costs me too much time which at this point in my life is at least as valuable as money.
So, come on, spill it: What are the shopping hangups you carry from your childhood?
I'll share that my overall frugality probably stems from some uncomfortable moments in my childhood when I overheard my parents' stressful discussions about money. We weren't deprived by any means, but like the little boy in DH Lawrence's "The Rocking Horse Winner," I took those adult worries upon myself. Now that I have my own children, frugal spending and maintaining a healthy emergency fund seem the best ways to buy security against ever letting my children bear such a burden.