I resonated with this blog post recently. It's called "It's Only Money." I found myself with these same thoughts not too long ago.
My husband was wrapping up a four-week sabbatical from work (what a great perk, by the way). We had taken two trips to see family, and had done more shopping than our budget could handle. So we started scaling back, eating out less, staying home instead of running to the book store (and you should know after blog entries like this one, and my book blog, that I love the book store!) or Target, etc.
So we came to the end of his time off. Our son started school on a Wednesday, leaving us three days to spend together - something very precious. We used one day for errands and chores we hadn't yet completed. We used a coupon I won in the library summer reading program to eat cheaply at a restaurant we never would have tried otherwise - and it was great. Another day was for him to golf (something he paid for back in the spring) and me to spend some time on personal projects. For the last day, we had entertained the idea of going to the bookstore (vetoed because it was too tempting to spend money, plus the gas it would take to get there), just going to a coffee shop in town (less driving, no shopping), or just plain staying home.
Then I started thinking of how pathetic that was - to end a great season together by sitting at our house, where we were likely to do chores or go to separate rooms of the house to do our own things. So, we scrounged up a BOGO coupon for Denny's and went out to breakfast together. We lowered our expenses, didn't drive a long way, and got to spend a couple hours together (talking fantasy football). Technically, we didn't have the money to go out for breakfast or for the lunch a couple days before. But we made a choice to spend a little to celebrate a lot - the sabbatical, and being together. And those are some of the things I want to remember from the month together.
I think the lesson here is balance. We need to shop less and spend less than we were, but we need to remember that we are making memories together. And I don't want all of those memories to be of my son asking to do something and me telling him we don't have the money. When we exercise balance in the every day things, we have more opportunities to say "yes" for the extra-ordinary.