I was talking to a friend a few days ago, and she mentioned that she was worried about possibly losing her job, as there has been talk about her office closing. She and her husband have always made more money that we do. They live in a $600,000 house, and drive a new Prius and a hybrid SUV. Their lifestyle is quite a bit fancier than ours, although she will happily join me for a day of scouting around a thrift store, and isn’t a pretentious person at all.
Anyway, she mentioned that money is pretty tight these days. I told her I understood exactly what it’s like – we’ve been there too. And then she went on to tell me that she had spent $1000 that morning on an eye exam, new glasses, and new prescription sunglasses. We do know what it’s like to have to spend money at the eye doctor’s office, but her story reminded me that there’s usually a frugal way to get around even the most necessary of expenses. My husband has pretty bad eyesight. Without his glasses or contacts he can’t see much of anything. Luckily his prescription hasn’t changed in years, and he’s been wearing the same glasses since 2003. They were the least expensive glasses we could get at the time – nothing fancy about them at all. I can’t remember exactly what we paid for them, but I think it was around $200. And maybe $100 for the eye exam, although it might have been less than that. He goes to see the eye doc periodically for an exam in order to replenish his supply of contacts. But he’s very frugal with his contacts, and only wears them when glasses are impractical, for stuff like snowboarding, mountain biking, swimming, etc. And then there’s sunglasses. He has a pair of regular sunglasses that he can wear if he’s wearing contacts. But since he wears his glasses most of the time, his sunglasses are almost always a pair of clip ons. They are not what you would call cool sunglasses. But they’re functional. They block UV light and keep the sun out of his eyes – what more do you really need? And the best part is that he got them at a thrift store for one dollar.
Prescription sunglasses are a luxury item. They’re nice – and I know my husband would have loved a pair over the years – but they’re expensive, and clip-ons do the job for a whole lot less money. Now that we’re on pretty solid financial ground and have the money saved in our HSA, we’re looking into LASIK. But during the years when money was really tight around here (and still to this day), a pair of thrift store clip ons fit our budget a lot better than prescription sunglasses.