Perspective – Hard to Gain but Great to Have

by Sandy L on August 8, 2010

Webster’s Dictionary defines perspective as:

“the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance.”

Sandy L’s definition of perspective:

“A much needed life experience that helps prevent a sense of entitlement to things that aren’t really that important.”

I think this sense of entitlement is what gets people into so much financial trouble.

Babci’s Extreme Perspective:

Babci has the ultimate perspective. Any life for an able bodied individual in America was better than the life she had…and when she finally got here after 20 years of trying, she was happy to learn that she was not wrong.

Even though she lived in a neighborhood that many would deem unsafe, she grew up during WW2 when entire towns of people were being shipped off to concentration camps to die.

Even though she worked in a dirty factory and lost a finger, she was getting paid and was not in a slave labor camp like my aunt and uncle had to endure for 5 years of their life.

Even though her home was in disrepair when she bought it, it had electricity, plumbing, and heat. To top it off, she had a job so and could afford to pay the utility bills.

Even though she bought her clothes at second hand stores, she had access and money to be able to buy a variety of outfits.

Perspective Can also Change As Your Situation Changes – For Good or Bad

When my mom was on the plane to America, she was at loss as to what to give my uncle for sponsoring her to come to this country. She really had nothing to give but her gratitude.  She had an idea when the airplane meals came.  Her meal included a fresh orange. This was it! She had never seen or eaten citrus fruit and she was sure this was a gift worthy of her gratitude.  She saved this orange and smuggled past customs to be able to give it to him.

They arrived at his home and she was eager to present him with the orange.  She pulls it out and he laughs.  “You stupid woman, you should have eaten the orange, I don’t need it.”  He points to a bowl full of oranges and bananas.

Similarly, people’s perspectives of what’s a want vs a need often gets adjusted after a job loss or starting a family.

As an aside, one of the things my mom did when she got extra money was periodically send a case of oranges to her twin sister’s family in Poland. My cousin told me it was one of her most cherished childhood memories.

How to Adjust Your Perspective

I’m constantly trying to talk myself out of being upset over trivial things.

If I’m having a bad day at work, I try to remember all the people who would trade places with me in a heartbeat.   If I’m shopping for a car, I refuse to test drive ones that are outside my price range.

I’m always trying to think of  ways to expose my kid’s to some perspective and also keep mine in check. I think living in an average neighborhood helps but I would love to hear people’s ideas.

How has your perspective changed over the years? Please share your story.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Little House August 8, 2010 at 2:55 PM

I think that my perspective has definitely changed over the years. I was never a huge shopper, it was easy for me to say “no” to something. However, I’ve become even more frugal and analyze if I really need something, or just want it. My only downfall is Starbucks coffee, that little pleasure alone can perk me up (quite literally!)

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Budgeting in the Fun Stuff August 10, 2010 at 4:00 PM

I’ve had a strange shift of perspectives. My mom was a single mom until I was 8 and she married my step-dad. Up until then, we were poor. Not as poor as your mom, but like one small level up (we lived in okay neighborhoods that were just old instead of bad neighborhoods…that was pretty much the main difference).

After she remarried, we immediately became middle class. We moved into a house he bought for the 3 of us. They still had long-term plans for a bigger house, so we still pinched pennies, but you could just tell as a kid that we were much better off.

Then my little sister came along and we moved into a huge house and just lived semi-frugally. I know my parents saved a bunch, but we took trips and ate more meat and stuff.

After about 10 years, it was obvious money wasn’t an issue anymore. I was in college and utting myself through, but I could see that they saved a set amount but started splurging more often.

My dad retired early last year and they are living really nice lives. Hobbies and pets keep them busy and money is clearly a non-issue. Great budgeting and saving led to a pretty great retirement fund.

So, I personally lean towards frugal but a splash of splurge. My husband is a little more centered. Together we compromise and save a lot while we also budget for a lot of fun. We still work on the balance once in a while, but I do enjoy the cruises and name brand toilet paper, lol. :-)

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