Buy Less, Choose Well: Lessons from My Grandpa

May 16, 2014

It's a year ago today that I lost the most important man in my life - my Grandpa. He was my heart and soul, and taught me so many things. I owe so much of who I am to him (and my mom, of course!). He cared for me in a way that I cherish and miss every single day.

I've faced many new experiences and challenges this year without my Grandpa's happy smile and eagerness to help, but I hold tight to the lessons that he taught me because they were so special. Now I don't want to get everyone too emotional or bummed out, as my blog is based in light-hearted fabulousness and not death talk; however, I feel that the lesson I hope to share with you today resonates with the content and purpose of my posts.

With that said, here I go...

No one really ever prepares you for dealing with death, especially when it is someone who means the world to you. My mom always told me that when you lose someone, you never really stop mourning but just learn to deal with their absence because you have no other choice... I've found that to be one of the truest statements she's ever made. Losing a loved one at a young age is somewhat easier, I believe, because we are able to adapt without concern for the future. I experienced this when I lost my Grandma at the tender age of 7, never really understanding how much of life I would go through without her. As an adult, however, death takes on another form. Its like a shock to your system in the days proceeding the funeral services - when the reality hits that everything has permanently been altered. You realize the moments and milestones that will be missed and it all becomes very real. I can undoubtedly say that God has welcomed by Grandpa's beautiful soul into Heaven and I know he is watching over me, but unfortunately, that doesn't always dull the painful transition between life and death. But I guess that's what faith is all about.

I came across this quote from fashion designer Vivienne Westwood a few weeks ago and I cried as I read it, which will seem odd to most, but I immediately thought of my Grandpa. The quote read:

"Buy Less, Choose Well"

These four simple words have huge meaning in my life and I hope they will come to mean something significant in yours. My Grandpa was the hardest working family man you would have ever meet. At the age of 16, although facing adversity, he started working in a shipping factory and eventually worked his way up to management, essentially running the company. He retired after 65 years of commitment to the factory. He did well for himself, but in no way achieved the standard we would deem well-off today. 

My Grandparents always had things but never lived in excess. They were the epitome of buying less but always choosing well. My Grandpa's happiest moments were expending his resources on a family vacation each year. He didn't drive around in the flashiest, newest car, but always chose a dependable, noteworthy vehicle. That is something that always left an impression on me. Choosing well really means choosing what will bring the most meaning to your life. Yes, it is just money, and you can't take it with you, but our financial choices are truly the most important in my opinion. There will always be a trade off if you spend your resources without contemplation of future effects.  

That's, of course, not to say that my Grandpa didn't treat himself to things he wanted, but he was never an impulse buyer/shopper...and that's how I was raised and I am firm in that conviction (especially given the fact that my father is a financially irresponsible, POS, man whore...but that's another [very long] story...I digress, sorry). Irregardless of what you have in your bank account, living this mantra will allow you to have access to better things, although it many appear that you quantitatively have less. 

I would be a hypocrite if I were to say that I don't have a closet full of clothes or an absurd shoe collection, but each and every item was thoughtfully and purposefully purchased. I can give you the story behind everything I own and I'm very proud of that. For example, as a law student with limited resources, I choose to brown-bag my lunch as often as possible, so that I have the extra money available to make a larger purchase on things I deem more meaningful to me (i.e. shoes, makeup, nail polish, etc.). But even when (God willing) I no longer have limited resources, I would choose to live this way. 

We all work very hard for our money and to frivolously spend, just in the name of spending, is simply a bad decision. We've all had those moments after a purchase where we realize that a very poor choice was just made. But how many times do you go back and return that poor choice? 

My suggestion is to always return something that doesn't still well with you, either personally or financially. Don't spend your resources on things that don't add meaning to your life. If you want to get something at Starbucks, get it because it will add something to your day (Disclaimer: some days Starbucks is a necessity, not an option...I'm a law student, I get it). Then, maybe the next day, bring coffee from home, to supplement the expenditure from the Starbucks the day prior. In all things, even the things that seem irrelevant, I would say to buy less but choose well. You will be so surprised how saving on the little things, adds up so you can buy the big things!

Reflect on the inspirational words of Vivienne Westwood and try to figure out what it means to you and apply it in your life. 

I sincerely hope that you've gained something from my very offbeat post. I want to take a minute to thank all those who have helped my family and I through the toughest year of our lives, as well as the readers of my blog who have make this endeavor a ton of fun for me. 

God bless you all & Stay Fabulous! 

LMD xo

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