Thursday, September 11, 2014

splurge: to buy something without remorse by Kristine Rolofson

Last week I splurged on expensive, extra-sturdy, haul-a-dead-body, black plastic garbage bags.  Even as I set the box in my shopping cart I was laughing at myself.  It’s not like me to buy pricey name brands, not in food or clothing or electronics. 


So when did garbage bags become a splurge-worthy item?

Since I’m now alone at our summer house in the mountains, that’s when.  And I’m in charge of getting the garbage to the dump, which means I deserve only the best bags for this chore.   Money is no object.  No weak, white, generic, leaking, kitchen bags for this woman and her 2004 SUV!

Many years ago, after I sold my first book (1987) and gratefully cashed the check, I took my three small children to the fancy grocery store in town and let them each pick out two boxes of name-brand cereal.  Because we lived on the side of a mountain twenty miles from town and because ours was a simple, homegrown lifestyle, my children had only experienced oatmeal, homemade granola and giant bags of generic cheerios from a massive local store appropriately called the Warehouse Market (there was no Costco back then, and this place was dark and cold, piled with dirty boxes, and sold skinny frying chickens for 12 cents a pound). 

In a bright, light, fancy supermarket my excited children spent close to an hour deciding on their cereal choices, boxes of sugar-coated stuff they had only seen on television commercials (we had three channels back then, if the weather and the antenna cooperated).  What a splurge that was!  And they still remember it (is that a good thing or a bad thing?).

At every royalty-check time, for close to twenty years, my agent would ask, “What bauble are you going to buy to celebrate?”

I would hem and haw.  My life was far removed from baubles of any kind.  Instead my husband and I would go to Sam’s Club (by this time we were living 3000 miles from our mountain home) and buy a six months’ supply of toilet paper and paper towels.  We now had six children and eash week I shopped pushing two grocery carts.  A splurge would be a package of Milano cookies, not diamonds.

Oh, there would be other splurges in my life, of course.  Big boxes of chocolate in Belgium, thick bars of vanilla soap in New Orleans.  An emerald ring in a Covent Garden antiques stall in London.  A pair of sparkly cowboy boots.  A Bose speaker system for the band.  A carton of fresh blueberries.  Angora socks.

And now a box of indestructible garbage bags.  With, I admit, the same kind of thrill.

You can laugh.  I know it’s pathetic.  But, hey, a splurge is totally in the eye of the splurger, right?

Merriam Webster defines “splurge” as “to spend more money than usual on something for yourself.”


What was your favorite once-in-a-lifetime extravagance?  Was guilt, remorse or exultation involved?  What do you consider to be a splurge?  

And what kind of garbage bags do you use?

25 comments:


  1. Years ago I attended a Renaissance festival and feel in love with the Psalter. I bought one. I actually taught myself to play. Then, I got married and had a son. Psalter is gathering dust LOL

    Loved your story about Cheerios.

    Truthfully, there are some things that generic doesn't do. Ketchup is one. It's Heintz or nothing.

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    1. I agree with you about the ketchup! My husband, who loves to grocery shop, has strict orders to buy only the "real thing". As far as music goes, I stopped playing my guitar and singing when my first child was born. I came back to it in my late 50's and it is so much fun--even more fun than when I was a teen. Keep the psalter!!

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  2. Great post! I don't splurge on many things, either. I'm just too practical. Why pay an extra 50 cents for name brand cereal when the store brand tastes exactly the same? It drives my kids nuts to go shopping for me because whenever they pull something off the shelf and ask if they can buy it, I always ask if it's on sale or if there's another brand that is. I do no cut corners on things like cars. I like to drive a nice car with all the bells and whistles. I drive a Buick Enclave and love it. Even though it cost us an arm and leg, I don't regret it!

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    1. I discovered "heated seats" three years ago and will never go back. :)

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  3. Kristine, I first want to comment on how beautiful and serene the view is from your summer house. It makes me want to put our dogs into my SUV and head to our cottage!

    My husband and I tend to splurge on vacations. Our time away together is precious, thus money spent on our vacations is well worth it.

    As for garbage bags, it would be great to find "critter-proof" bags. Raccoons, in particular, are ingenious little creatures and seem to be able to get into even the most sturdy garbage cans.

    Enjoy your time in the mountains!

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    1. I love our northwest home so much. We lived here for 12 years, long ago, so our little town is filled with old friends and great memories. I'm here for 3 months each year and it is never enough.

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  4. Hi Kristine! Great post:) Two of the ladies before me stole mine-vehicles and vacations lol:) Before quitting my day job to write full time, I was in outside sales, so a nice and safe truck for our often dangerous roads was a necessity. And my husband and I love to travel with our son, so vacations for sure!

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    1. I'm married to a very frugal man, so nice cars and nice trucks have been few and far between. LOL! I bought myself a Toyota truck--brand new--with my very own "book money" and was so proud of my first new vehicle...until it was recalled.

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  5. I totally relate to buying name brand trash bags, although I also buy name brand kitchen bags. I buy a lot of Costco generic, but I really don't count that at all. In my travels, I've tried many Kroger store brands and found them really good (sadly, no Kroger in my neck of the woods).

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  6. Kristine, love this post! I grew up in a large family with very "practical" parents and am also a country girl. (My husband, too.) I'm a Costco, coupon-clipping, bargain shopper. I also love yard sales. My car has almost 200,000 miles on it and I'm hoping it will keep getting me where I need to go for as long as possible. I would say my splurging happens with "experiences"--I love to travel, snow ski, hike etc. Oh, and ice cream! I open my wallet for good quality ice cream LOL!

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    1. Boy, it's hard to resist a yard sale, isn't it? One of my sons enjoys them, but the rest of the family remains unimpressed and uncooperative. Thank goodness for bargain-hunting girlfriends.

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  7. My first book was called: Red Hot Pepper, about a heroine named Pepper who drove a red sport's car with a license plate that said Red Hot. So with my first royalties I bought a hot red Firebird with the black and gold Eagle on the hood. I was 50 mind you. And the car I later called: Ticket-Me-Red. I couldn't drive anywhere in Seattle that cops didn't pull in and follow me. After ticket number 3 my husband suggested selling it, so I did. But it was the biggest splurge I ever made. Hey, now Costco is a big outing and name brand trash bags are a big deal. Kristine, love that you made us dig into our guilty pleasures.

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    1. I hope you blog about the Firebird one of these days. With a picture of you and the Ticket-Me-Red car! I read somewhere that a red car *appears* to be going faster than it really is. Something about the color. I guess you know that, Roz!

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    2. Oh Roz-please post pics of you and your car!! Would love to see them. I can totally picture you driving one of those:)

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  8. I so understand that need to justify what I spend money on. Raised by depression-era parents and a husband how also lived through the depression, their caution is burned into my conscience. But every once in a while I go crazy. Bought an iPad Air recently. Just because. And next week, I'm going to buy some of those brand-name garbage bags, too. :-)

    Great post!, Kristine.

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    1. Do you love the Ipad Air??? My husband talked me into buying a Kindle tablet last week and I haven't touched it. Something about it being so expensive scares me. Which is ridiculous.:(

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  9. Kristine! Your post is a riot. It reminds me of Bridget Fonda in "IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU" when cop, Nicholas Cage, shares his lottery winnings with her and her big splurge is the large jar of macadamia nuts. I grew up in a tenement (wonderful place!), Ron and I filed for adoption and got three children instead of one, so we've always pinched pennies. Early in my career, when Romance sold so well (Roz bought a Firebird!) I paid off some debt with my first cash advance, had a party for all the friends who'd supported us through the process (prime rib for 32 people at $10. a head. 1983) then bought myself a Krementz really thin gold bracelet for $35 that I wear today, along with the silver bangle Ron gave for our 25th anniversary. Splurging for us now, is eating out - which we both love to do. And it's so much fun for us, that McDonald's is as enjoyable as 21 in New York would be if it was still there. I think a true splurge is just opening up inside and letting yourself love where you are and what you have. (I love the "haul a dead body" description of good garbage bags) Hey everyone - Cheyenne's having surgery today. Please hold the good thought. (Cheyenne's a dog - don't want you fretting about a child.)

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    1. Muriel, we adopted four of our children (three were a sibling group), which was quite an experience. I hope Cheyenne is doing well and the surgery wasn't too serious. So stressful when our four-legged best friends are injured. And a prime rib dinner for 32 people???? Wow!!! We rarely ever go out to eat. We save our "going out" money for our trips to Austin, and then I splurge on fried avocado tacos from a food truck. Sooooo good.

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    2. I think I need to travel back in time:) Clearly, I started writing in the wrong decade lol:)

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    3. Our three were also a sibling group - but we didn't have to help them fit in with three other children. Wow. Kudos, Woman!

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  10. Garbage bag splurge :). Totally awesome! Nothing worse than the bottom of a bag full of grossities breaking loose!

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    1. Just got back from the dump. No issues at all! Love those bags...

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  11. First, good wishes for Cheyenne. Hope she comes through with flying colors. My splurge? When I got my first advance in the mid-80s, I treated myself to--get this--a rabbit jacket that I wore probably twice. I'm allergic to it! And I feel bad for the bunny. Maybe that was payback. Kristine, I still have the green and clear crystal drop earrings I bought when you and I went shopping at New Orleans RWA (you made me do it!). I too have the dead-body size black trash bags, but mine are the economy brand. I guess my biggest splurge now is travel. Oh, and I agree: It's Heinz or nothing for ketchup.

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  12. I remember that shopping trip. I hope that store survived after Katrina. btw, what happened to the rabbit jacket?

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  13. It's still hanging in my coat closet. It's a neat bomber style and fun, but I really should donate it somewhere.

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