Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Relativity of Money and Spending

Despite the grandiose title, this will not likely be a grand examination of said topics, but more the rambling thoughts of someone who has been sick for a week, is still sick, and is starting to worry about how much longer she will be sick.

Me, in other words. Hi! Pardon the coughing, and excuse me if my cough becomes "productive"; I think it's gross, too, but it is out of my control. I make sure to have tissues handy at all times.

Now, about money, and how relative the spending of it is. I have thought before of how I can be unreasonable about spending money, in the guise of situational reasonableness. In the grocery store, I hesitate to pay five dollars for a bag of Terra Chips, but out running errands at lunchtime, I will stop and spend more than that on a quick meal without thinking much about it, or after a long day, with rising weariness and lowering energy, I will get takeout for dinner. Similarly, I will price-compare brands of soup or crackers to get a good deal, but drop $20-30 on a skein of yarn without blinking. What I consider "expensive" depends on a lot of factors beyond the actual dollar amount.

What got me thinking about this again was (quelle surprise) a knitting pattern. I read about this shawl pattern recently that I thought was just beautiful: Puncia, it's called, and you should look at the pictures on that page and (you may have to belong to Ravelry to get in that far) at the one made by Shekure, which is just gorgeous. "I would like to make that!" I thought, and I saw that I have yarn in my stash already that I think would work well, a skein of Geisha that I got at Rhinebeck in 2014. Perfect, right? It was all I could do not to start winding the yarn right away.

Well, here's the situational part of it: a lot of knitting patterns are available for free, including many good ones. Some are found in books or magazines that one can get out of the library to look at. Others have a cost, but usually in the neighborhood of $5. This one is in a book, but it isn't available in any library near me. The pattern is not sold individually, so I would have to buy the whole book, either in print for $26.95, or as an ebook, for $16.95. And my first thought was to balk.

It isn't that I don't think a designer's time in creating a pattern is worth nothing, far from it, but the idea of having to pay for patterns I don't want, and in some cases don't like that much, just to get the one or maybe two* I would make, set off my anti-thrift alarm. I am a bargain hunter, and this is antithetical to my instincts.
*I also quite like Saccharum, from the back, but not so much the front, so it might take more modification than I want to tackle.

Now, this part sounds off-topic, but bear with me: I'm going to brunch with friends this weekend (oh please let me feel well enough), and I was looking at the menu to get an idea of the restaurant, as I haven't been there before. I was a little surprised to see that the entrees are in the $20-40 range, since that's more than I tend to spend on a meal out; but, I reminded myself, I can afford to do it once in a while, and it will be good to see everyone.

So, put that together with the previous thought: I can afford to spend that much on a single meal, which will no doubt be very pleasant but is by its nature ephemeral, yet I hesitate to spend that much on a book of patterns to make things that I enjoy making, enjoy having or gifting, and that will last virtually forever. Disconnect much?

Anyway, I'm not capable of any more coherence than that, but I hope it makes some sort of sense. I'm going to look for the book when I yarn crawl on Saturday (let me feel well enough by then!), and if I don't see it, I'll order it. Because really.


Blogger goosefairy said...

I don't think that's weird at all. I hate spending money for an entire book of patterns when I only want one. I consider it wasteful. Having a lovely dinner with friends gives you much more than just food.

12:42 PM, March 16, 2016  
Blogger Alice said...

I was just thinking about this myself the other day! I am so incredibly inconsistent about what I will not hesitate to drop money on vs. what bugs me as being a "waste" or "too expensive." A recent example is the Bella Band thingy I had to buy to keep wearing pants while my preggo stomach expands: it's a band of black elastic fabric that you pull over your waistband, and it keeps everything in place even when your top button (or, uh, at this point, entire fly) is hanging open. But it was like $30! And for some reason that seemed totally irrational, to drop $30 on a tube of fabric. But I wear it EVERY SINGLE DAY and it has meant I *saved* money by not having to buy maternity pants (..yet :) ). But I'll drop $30 on a pedicure without a second thought, which is (almost) entirely frivolous. Why the inconsistency, self!?

5:02 PM, March 17, 2016  

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