My Frugal Achilles Heel

 Posted by on September 2, 2010  Add comments  Tagged with: ,
Sep 022010

My husband is fond of saying, whenever I’m despairing about my perceived weaknesses or shortcomings, “Honey, we all have our Achilles heel.”

If you’re unfamiliar with this expression, it stems from the Greek myth of Achilles. In his infancy, Achilles’ mother was foretold that he would die in battle from an arrow. In an attempt to save her son’s life, she took Achilles to the River Styx, which was believed to offer the power of invincibility, and dunked his body in the water. However, because she was holding Achilles by his heel, this part of his body didn’t get wet. Achilles grew up to be a powerful warrior, surviving many battles, until one fateful day when a flying arrow struck his heel, killing him instantly. Thus, the expression “Achilles heel,” meaning a weakness or vulnerability that could, or does, lead to one’s downfall.

I felt compelled to write about my frugal Achilles heel, because I occasionally get the impression that some of you are convinced that I never make money mistakes, and this is so not true. I do try to be careful and frugal in all areas of my life, but I am human, and exhaustion is my Achilles heel when it comes to money. I once said to my husband, “Isn’t it interesting how willing I am to throw money at a problem when I’m tired?”

Exhaustion causes me to make plenty of mistakes. Sometimes, if I’ve been up half the night with a baby (and he knows who he is), and I’m bleary-eyed from sleep deprivation, I might forget to pay a bill by its due date, and then we end up with a late fee. If I’ve been cooped up in the house with sick children for days on end, and I escape to the grocery store, you’d be amazed at what I’ll throw in the cart. “Beefaroni! I haven’t had this since I was a kid! Ooooh, butterscotch pudding in a can. Twinkies! I have to get these!”

I can honestly say that I’ve never purchased anything from a TV infomercial….except for once, when I was up watching TV at 3 A.M., after several nights of crippling insomnia. Does anyone remember Nads? It was this taffy-like hair removal wax, named for an Australian woman’s daughter, Nadine (clearly “nads” isn’t slang for testicles in Australia, as it is here). Apparently, poor “Nads” had a serious, bearded-lady-type hair problem. In the infomercials, all the people acted like Nads was a miracle product which made having one’s facial hair ripped out violently by the roots feel like pure ecstasy! I sat there in my PJs, near delirium from sleep deprivation, and completely transfixed. I thought, “Oh my gosh! I would never have to shave my legs again! I MUST buy this!”

By the way, Nads does remove hair. Unfortunately, it also removes half of your epidermis, and leaves behind a painful, angry-looking rash, making you resemble a plucked chicken. Or was that just me?

Anyway, the point I’m making here is that everyone has weaknesses, and we all make money mistakes from time to time, and that’s OK! Remember, it’s only money – it’s not your life. If you mess up once in awhile, don’t beat yourself up, because every new day is a chance to start fresh. Also, if you can recognize your own frugal Achilles heel, you can learn to plan for when it may rear its ugly head. For example, because I know that I spend more when I’m tired, I make an effort to stay out of stores (or garage sales) when I’m feeling exhausted or unwell. I also try to keep simple, easy-to-prepare foods on hand, so that I’m not tempted to call for take-out when I’m too tired to cook.

Oh…and I never watch infomercials at 3 A.M. anymore.