The Disservice of Having Everything at Your Fingertips

by Katy on December 29, 2015 · 18 comments

The following is a reprint of  previously published post. Enjoy!

It was sure a lot more fun and satisfying to fix up this old mirror than it would have been to buy one online. And yes, the antique dresser was a curbside find.

  • Dinner out without ever having to worry about the bill.
  • This season’s hip new clothing without the slightest inclination to look at the price tag.
  • turnkey house where your only project is where to place your gorgeous furniture?

Sounds great, right?


As dreamlike as it sounds to have access to everything you want at your fingertips, I feel like the reality of a limited budget sparks creativity and imagination that would otherwise lay dormant. 

Because the cost of taking four adults out for dinner, (Yup, teenage boys eat as much, if not much, much more than an adult) is staggering, so I end up having to cook at home. However, this doesn’t translate into frozen Costco lasagnas, as I like to prepare what I actually enjoy eating.

Take last night as an example. I’ve been craving Vietnamese salad rolls all week, (probably due to the fact that I spent an afternoon cleaning one of my mother’s guest cottages, and basking in the aromas of the divine Jade Teahouse and Patisserie, the *best* restaurant, Vietnamese or otherwise in town.) So instead of wallowing in the sentiment of “Poor me,” I found a recipe online and whipped up a huge batch of salad rolls for the family. And no, they were not as pretty as Jade’s, but for the first time in my life I got to gorge on a delicacy, which before had always been an appetizer.

Such a luxury, and frankly, pretty damned satisfying. And now, I have a new skill! Some might even go so far as to call it self improvement. 

The harsh reality of not being able to buy the things you want, whether it’s a certain type of food, a decor item or the services of a professional can force you into learning new skills. And then, if your financial situation takes a nosedive, you already know how to fend for yourself. But you know . . . in style.

It’s a good thing that I wasn’t born an heiress. What a travesty that would have been. 😉

Agree, disagree? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one } December 29, 2015 at 3:55 pm

Oh, gosh yeah! But I wonder if it is a wisdom that comes with age – I was such an accumulator when I was young, but now entering my 50s I have no patience for shopping or full closets. I love learning skills that mean I can fix my own stuff or make my own really delicious food. Much more satisfying. I am very impressed with people like Ken Ilgunas who learn at a younger age that stuff and wealth do not mean happiness.


Vickie December 30, 2015 at 6:47 am

Well said!
I feel the same way. I’m in my late 50s and “stuff” has no appeal to me anymore. I admire young people who enjoy experiences and aren’t into consumerism. I truly wish I’d felt this way in my young married life, I could have saved a fortune by now!


Vonlipi December 29, 2015 at 6:06 pm

I was always curious about learning skills that could make me more hands on. In my 20’s I learned how to rewire a lamp and install a dimmer. I used this skill over and over for the past 30 years! I can do basic plumbing too, like change a faucet and a washer.

I was a homeowner for 20 years and I learned so much. and saved too!


Karen@simplystashless December 29, 2015 at 6:23 pm

It’s so much more satisfying to make something with my own hands or figure out how to repurpose or fix something to give it a new, longer life. Anyone can buy something at the store or go to a restaurant, but not everyone can make the same from scratch. 🙂


Bee December 29, 2015 at 6:26 pm

There is a special sense of satisfaction that comes from making something from nothing …. Making an ugly duckling into a swan …. And getting the biggest bang for your buck. I am not sure when I truly began to understand that all resources — including money — were finite, but I am glad I did. I have learned to be resourceful and creative. These are important skills. Because as we learned in the Great Recession, anyone at anytime can face financial challenge and/or hardship.


Christa December 29, 2015 at 6:40 pm

Totally agree!! I was a single mother with my oldest two daughters. No cable meant we read books. We went to the library and free museums. Eating out was never in the budget. Water from the tap was what we drinked, no other options. I made gifts, clothes. Now I’m married with two younger daughters and I miss the simple life we had. My husband works very hard and I so approciate him!!! But I do have to work hard to give myself to my younger two not just buy them more and more.


mike December 29, 2015 at 9:53 pm

Your advice is spot-on. Learning many repair skills makes me feel different.
Less anxious. Less worried. Kinda “free-er”.


marie December 29, 2015 at 10:05 pm

so very true. I had a very sick pup last week. Once she was able to eat again, I heard that bone broth is very good for stomach problems. First thought: must go buy some chicken and cook it. Second thought: In my freezer I have frozen chicken leg bones. We freeze all meat bones until we go to the dump!
Pulled those leg bones out, and made her some delicious and healthy bone broth.
She is on the mend, and loves chicken broth


Isabel December 29, 2015 at 10:53 pm

To solve a household problem is the greatest thing! To throw money at it is one way …. By hiring someone else to fix but when to get the inspiration to try something yourself on it gives great satisfaction! Sometimes the inspiration comes from deep within but at times I consider google my friend! Yes a couple of incidents lately! Very grateful! Middle of the night is one of my best times for inspiration!


Loretta December 30, 2015 at 1:05 am

Yum, we call those rice paper rolls in Australia. The kids and I make them as a treat during summer. My 15 yo daughter is an expert in sushi/hand rolls; just as good as the Japanese restaurants! My husband has recently perfected homemade pork dumplings. As you can see, we rarely need to eat out as a family, maybe 3-4 times a year. My kids prefer my homemade fish and chips, burgers, pizza, roast chicken, lasagne, and as for desserts, pah, we can make almost anything better than restaurants!! Just takes practice and willingness:-) Oh and we live in the country with the most excellent independent supermarket with every international grocery item you could want!


Vickie December 30, 2015 at 7:09 am

Katy, I love that mirror and dresser! I love antiques and I’d much rather have something old or used than the new stuff in the stores. My husband and his business partner own two furniture stores, but the only thing in our house from their stores are the bed frames! LOL!

I’ve learned a lot by doing things myself. I have great neighbors too and they are always willing to help or show me how to do something.
I didn’t know how to cook much at all, when I first married at 17, but I learned. I knew the basics, but we ate a lot of boxed stuff. As I got older and more concerned about the content of my food, I learned to fix things from scratch. Once you taste homemade food, you realize how awful the canned and boxed stuff is. I received two cookbooks when we married and they are well used. Anyone who can read, can learn to cook.

I love learning new things and it gives me a sense of accomplishment to do something myself. 🙂


Leanne December 30, 2015 at 7:34 am

Some of the best dinners I’ve made were when I had to scrounge through my kitchen and pantry to see what I could throw together. I loved the creativity and satisfaction of being able to accomplish something from nothing. This was when our 7 little boys were young and we were just starting out as a blended family on one small income. I think we all have an inherent desire to create, whether that’s art, building a fence, sewing etc. So satisfying!


JD December 30, 2015 at 7:40 am

I get a lot of satisfaction in doing it myself, and can’t understand people who just throw money at a problem — or a need — all the time. My parents were older when they had me — they were married during the depression and carried a lot of life lessons from that. (One being that they never trusted the stock market again.) They taught us a lot of skills, and not paying someone for something you can do yourself was a big rule at our house. Another was, “Homemade usually beats store-bought.”
When I was a school kid and read about a “needle book” in Alcott or some such author’s books, I was inspired to make one out of some felt we had around the house and presented it to my mother for Mother’s Day. When she died many years later, that needle book was still in her sewing basket, with needles neatly inserted in the felt pages according to type. There is no way she would have still been using, or even still would have owned, some little trinket that I could have bought for her. I have tried to instill those lessons in my kids, and now my grandkids. I’ve been as guilty as the next at using money instead of creativity at times, but like others have said here, the older I get, the less “stuff” matters to me.


Carrie December 30, 2015 at 7:43 am

I absolutely agree! I say this often. When we are short on funds or when there is little food in the house, I get way more creative! It’s like an adventure to me! We didn’t have a lot growing up, and my mom was frugal and creative. I’m glad I learned those skills, and the thrill of thrift shopping and using what I have. Not always easy, but I wouldn’t trade it!


Jill December 30, 2015 at 12:52 pm

I like learning new things. If I never had to fix my own dryer or knit my own socks, it would be super boring.


Charli December 30, 2015 at 1:02 pm

It’s also a disservice to your kids to give them everything they could ever need or want.


janine December 30, 2015 at 9:38 pm

I chose to retire early and was aware that I would have to make financial sacrifices in order to gain freedom of time. At the same time my kids need help which necessitates my frugal creativity to assert itself. It is sometimes a rewarding challenge to find ways to stretch those dollars as far as possible. I also think it is good for the earth to make the best and longest possible use of her resources. That said, I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said I didn’t listen to materialism’s siren song oftener than I should. This blog helps make resistance possible!


Lissa January 6, 2016 at 9:00 am

Limiting the budget in our house has been an amazing experience. Granted we had to due to life changes but it has been good. I don’t buy nearly as much crap and the bags of stuff that was bought and never used has decreased. I used to feel sick when I bagged up things we would never use or never use again. It was so much waste! But not now. Now we really think about what we are going to buy whether it is food, clothes or household items.

And the best part is that I have finally learned how to make bread! (Note I have only achieved bricks in the past!) I used the Frugal Girls french bread recipe over Christmas. I was requested to make it three more times over break! It was awesome.


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