Your MatchGirl gets asked quite often, gentle readers, what is the biggest change in her life since losing her job in November of last year. And, while, of course, there have been big changes, I think it's the small ones that give me the most pause - the little things that one wouldn't normally think about, but are now constantly on the front of one's mind.
Did I change my eating habits? Yes. But not really. I go out less, and I think about it more. But, as my grandpa owned a grocery when I was small, I was raised to read the labels on the food and on the price tag - to look for value and to make a smart choice, to look for specials and to clip a coupon here and there (of course, I do keep forgetting the coupons on the kitchen counter).
Things you noticed but didn't really think about are more pressing. Like when all of your toiletries run out at the same time - employed you probably thought less about how much cash you drop on that stuff. And even if you buy cheaper brands, look for store specials or remember the coupons you clip from the Sunday paper, when you have to get it all at once, it adds up. And fast.
What I miss most, though, is the impulse buy. Judge me if you must, but this girl spent most of her adult life working retail and was a pre-teen/teen in the 80s. Frugal as I may have always been, it is a material world. And, with the state of the economy as it is, there are so many sales right now. Expensive things marked down to reasonable prices. The kinds of things I lust after at full price (even employed, on a meager salary, I would not have bought them at retail) but that I would have hopped at when marked down. My favorite local store has over half of it's spring collection on sale, and while I went in there with another friend to help her pick out a dress, I kept my hands in my pockets and away from my wallet while gazing longingly at two shirts, two dresses and the most buttery soft leather jacket you have ever seen.
I have never been a big impulse shopper, gentle readers, but I miss the ability to do it. I haven't had a credit card since 2002, so I have always needed to have the cash available to me. But here and there, now and then ... I have been guilty of an impulse purchase. A lunchtime trip to H&M, leaving with 5 or 6 items. New jeans at Diesel. A pair of shoes just because they are gorgeous. Living on an unemployment check, dear ones, is a different story.
And even worse when it comes to the big purchases. Your MatchGirl's computer, for instance, her lovely little laptop, is chugging away with poor battery life and a very fickle charger. Now, for now, I will find a new charger and make due with it leashed to an outlet (a new battery seems a little pricey for now). But, as I have written before, I will be taking some evening graphics classes in the fall and I am worried that my poor little iBook will not be able to handle the programs. So, even though that is not quite so pressing (the charger is, of course, but I am taking a wait and see attitude on the bigger problem), the simple fact is that the time will come, perhaps in the near future, when I will need to figure it out.
Sure. I would not just run out and buy a computer. It's not an impulse buy for most people. But, it got me thinking. About the things we need. And the things we want. And the things that we crave. And missing things ... that we didn't know we'd miss, just because they are gone.
I will not lie. I miss an impulse purchase.