Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What passes for extravagance

OK, I know I said I wouldn't be posting during our vacation, but this is just a quick post to let you know about what passes for extravagance in our ecofrugal household:

The latest issue of Mother Earth News contained an article about pressure cookers that piqued my husband's interest. By cooking food with high-pressure steam, these nifty tools dramatically cut cooking time, thereby saving energy as well. (My parents had one of these years ago—I still remember the little valve on the top rocking hypnotically back and forth as the broccoli cooked—but lately they seem to have fallen out of favor with the rise of the microwave.) Although it sounded intriguing, he had to admit that we didn't really "need" it, and it probably wouldn't be worth investing $50 or more in a new "toy" for the kitchen.

On Christmas Day, however, the newspaper brought a plethora of fliers advertising after-Christmas sales, including one from JC Penney that showed a five-quart pressure cooker marked down to $20. And, on top of that, the sale flier included a coupon good for $10 off any purchase of $25 or more on the 26th and 27th. Spending the extra $5 wouldn't be a problem, since Penney's is Brian's preferred supplier for underwear, which he actually did need (and which happened to be on sale as well, with a buy-one-get-one-half-price offer). And the Penney's store was in an area that we wanted to visit anyway, to go to Penzey's Spices (a local store that's a great source for intriguing spice blends, specifically a veggie soup base that makes just about any meatless soup taste richer and more flavorful) and the local Half Price Books (self-explanatory)—so we wouldn't even need to make an extra trip.

We did have a moment of indecision in the store itself, when we discovered that the 5-packs of undies were considerably more expensive than Brian had remembered, and he realized that the underwear purchase alone would put us over the $25 limit to take advantage of the coupon. Since we didn't actually need to buy the pressure cooker to get our discount—even though that was what had brought us to the store in the first place—he thought perhaps it would be too frivolous to buy it. But in the end he decided, hey, it's Christmas—it's okay to indulge ourselves. By spending ten dollars (after coupon) on an energy-saving, time-saving, money-saving device for the kitchen that will probably be used primarily to cook dry beans and brown rice.

This is how the ecofrugal lifestyle distorts your perceptions after a while. I truly think Brian felt as extravagant and devil-may-care buying that $10 pressure cooker as other men his age do dropping $30,000 on a little red sports car. And I suspect that, in the end, he'll get just as much pleasure out of it.
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