I made a choice over two years ago to live frugally. It was my choice, not the choice of my daughter, however, she has been fully supportive of me living like this and has come to appreciate many things that she took for granted. It is her choice not to be too frugal yet, although she lives within the restrictions of my lifestyle choice very graciously. She is a typical teenager who likes gadgets, clothes, jewelry and instant gratification. I think though that she looks upon these things with new eyes having been exposed to the way I try to run our home. She does have quite a few of the electronic toys that most teens have, but they are mostly from before we changed our lives or from her father. She looks after them very well because she knows that it won’t be easy to get new ones and does settle by having and using older models of the items. Last year she worked during her holidays to save up for a new mobile phone.
This Saturday was her prom night. She has been chatting to me for the whole year about what she wanted to wear, and had saved many, many pictures of dresses, hair-dos, and make-up ideas from the internet. I did not have to think too hard about making some clothing purchases for her for this evening. Although I have not bought any clothes for one year now and plan to only buy and use nearly new and used clothing for myself (except for underwear) in the future, I decided that for this one evening I would break my rules and have a dress made for her. There were restrictions of course. I was not prepared to pay a preposterous amount of money for something that she would hardly ever wear again, so she would have to find a dress we could have made locally at a reasonable price and that she could use again. I find it really shocking when I hear of the prices some people pay for prom dresses and shoes and I find the excesses practised around these types of functions a little abhorrent. Rumour has it that one of the girls had two full outfits made and designed at a significant cost so that she would be able to choose which dress she wanted to wear on the evening.
Shoes were also an issue – she showed me many pictures of the type of shoes she would like. There is a very limited selection of shoes to purchase here in our little town so it would mean driving over an hour each way to buy some shoes at the nearest shoe stores, again going against my principles of buying local.
I was very surprised when the Bean came to show me her final idea. She stood in front of me holding one of my little black dresses (from my previous jet-set lifestyle) and asked me if I would mind her having it altered to make it into her prom dress. I told her that it was not necessary, and that I would have something special made for her but she insisted that this was what she wanted. We took the dress to a lady here in town to be altered. It was done in a couple of days and when we went to collect it, she had made a matching hair clip and told us that she could not charge us for any of the alterations as it was such a small job – all she had done was attach a ribbon and some lace and taken the dress up and in a little.
Even more surprisingly, one day when I collected the Bean from school, she breathlessly told me to drive very quickly to a local chain store as she had heard rumour that there was one last pair of shoes there that would match her dress. When we got there she literally ran into the store and came out with the perfect pair of shoes for her outfit – bought for a very reasonable price. It was the last pair on the shelf and they were her size.
So, while she has not fully adopted my choice of lifestyle, I do believe that some of the principles have rubbed off on her. She ended up with a beautiful outfit designed by herself that cost the huge sum of R99.00 (EUR 9.11 or US$ 12.65), while practicing recycling, and strict resource management.
Now that she had saved money we could splash out a little and have her hair and make-up done by local ladies, supporting local industries. I am so proud of her.
Here are a few pictures of her special evening.