You know, there are good handful of reasons why the relationship between Husband and me should be strained. A least according to things like “studies” and “research” and strange door-to-door pastors.
I’ve read countless times (and it is repeated countless times by conservative groups) that living together before marriage increases the likelihood of divorce. Husband and I lived together for a year before we were married, and if I could go back and change anything, I would’ve just eloped right then and there. (Weddings are a b*+ch!) But although it’s something I’m not a supporter of, morally, it hasn’t harmed our relationship. We’re lucky, I guess. There is also an article that says 90 percent of couples experienced a reduction in marital satisfaction after their first child is born. Wow, that’s a lot! Also, when we first moved to Oregon, a couple of pastors from the local Baptist church came to our door to invite us to attend. That’s not unusual, but what WAS unusual was that when I mentioned that I was newly pregnant, the pastor went off on a tangent on how he and his wife were at each other’s throats after the baby was born! Yikes! We’ve been through other trying times as well, like moving across the country and now buying our first home together. And yet, we rarely have arguments, and we comment to each other all the time on how satisfied and happy we are, in pretty much every aspect of our lives together.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you this because I think we’re hot stuff or anything. The whole point of this post is about frugality. (Betcha didn’t see that coming.) Husband and I are both on the same level when it comes to the biggest hot-button issue of marriage: money. We’re frugal and we’re unapologetic. The outward flow of money is a stressful thing for us, and although it’s obviously unavoidable, we take pleasure in making sure it’s controlled, well thought-out, and of high value. In doing so, we don’t have to raise our eyebrows at each other regarding superfluous and undiscussed purchases, because it happens rarely enough that it’s respected. We aren’t tripping over things we “just had to have” last month, things that aren’t working for us anymore and have little value to us. We don’t have to sit down and have a long, hard talk every month about the state of our bank account, because we live within our means. I hope to help others get on the frugality bandwagon, in the hope that it saves them money, and in doing so, their most important relationships.
There’s a ton of things I could talk about with regards to how frugality affects our lives, but the one I’m going to talk about today is one of my favorites. The Library!
When we were in college in North Dakota, there was nothing to do but study, drink, play video games, eat at Perkin’s or shop at Wal-Mart or Barnes & Noble (pretty much the only things open later in the evening). I didn’t prefer the first one, or the second one for that matter, and video games make my eyes hurt after awhile, so it was a lot of the last three. I’ve spent a LOT of time at B&N, browsing books, reading books, and sometimes buying books. Lots and lots of books. Who’s interested in underwater basket weaving? Me! Me! I am! Let’s go buy a book about it at B&N! And we can buy a drink at the Starbucks while we’re there! You can see where this is going.
When we moved to Oregon, I got a library card for our local library. Well, that’s not quite accurate. I spent two months laying around feeling sicker than a dog, then a few more months doing who knows what, and THEN I got a library card. And good gravy, how awesome it is! Every week I go there at least once. Sometimes it’s for Munchkin’s “Toddler Time” activity, where a teacher, Miss Theresa, sings songs, dances, and reads stories with the little kids. Then we go and pick out three or four books for the week from the children’s section. It’s great because I never feel like I’m reading the same books to her over and over and over. Munchkin has developed a love for books; she spends as much time paging through books as she does playing with her toys!
I also love to check books out for myself. Our library is part of our county’s library system, so I basically have full privileges at ten or so other libraries close by. I can also easily search and request books from any of those other libraries, and the book gets shipped to my local library for me to pick up. The library gives me a call to tell me my book is in. I can’t say how many books I’ve requested so far, it feels like a hundred! I can even get obscure ones that I was surprised they even carried.
I rarely buy a book for myself anymore unless I’ve first checked it out from the library and decided that it’s important for me to have on hand. I get to scour all the recipes in cookbooks this way, browse through knitting and sewing patterns this way, and just be my curious self with literature that you just can’t find on the internet. If I was into fiction (which I’m really not at this point in time) I would have a comprehensive literary smorgasbord at my beck and call. I can browse through nearly a hundred different magazines without paying for a subscription. I can check out a hundred books at once. I can get DVD’s and music CD’s. I can even get a “cultural pass” that gets us into different destinations around the city, like the Children’s Museum and the Japanese Gardens. And the best part is, it’s all FREE: the best price there is. There’s even a knitter’s group that meets every week, should I feel like socializing. (AND, there is a coffee/donut shop attached to our library, which has very reasonable prices, unlike other similar establishments which shall remain unnamed…oh wait, I think I’ve already named them in this post! Whoops!) And, more appropriately for a stay-at-home mom like me, it’s a neutral, comfortable, quiet, free place where I can go and relax from the stress of home (hey, just because Husband and I don’t fight doesn’t mean I don’t want to pull my hair out sometimes! Raising a toddler is full dose of insanity!).
One thing that the library gives me that other exercises in frugality lack is freedom. I’m free to be greedy (for lack of a better term) and take whichever book, DVD, CD, or magazine that I want. Oh, I want this! It looks good! So take it! Oh, here’s another one that also looks good! Which one should I get? Take them both! There’s no harm! Take that third one while you’re at it! There’s no guilt! I can be as choosy or as un-choosy as I want, and there’s no harm either way. If only the donut shop were as nice, huh?
If you don’t already have a library card and you’re finding that B&N (or other bookstore) is one of your top boredom destinations, please at least check your local library out. What have you got to lose? (Hint: NOTHING.)