I used to go to college everyday and buy myself a sandwich. Then later I might walk up to the local shop and get myself some sweets. Then after finishing college I used to walk into town to get a lift home. Sometimes there would be an hour or two to wait, or fifteen minutes before the lift was ready so I would go look round the shops.
Then I might buy something here, something there. All excellent bargains and fabulous purchases, that is if I actually needed them. Now a fully grown adult living independently I like to get out of the house most days, and living in a city it is surrounded by shops. So most days I like to go look round them and then most days I usually buy something.
Some days I make the excuse that I need something or other in order to get myself to the shop. These things are not always needed, but it is nice to get out of the house even if my geographic location is a big city. As a child I had field upon field to go walk and play in as my heart desired, and then as a slightly older child my parents moved to the seaside so then I had a beach and cliffs to contend with.
As a young adult frequent trips were made on weekends with friends to the city centres to go shopping for the day and then once I got home I would look through my purchases again with happiness, then put them away and quite possibly forget about them.
Now as a fully grown adult I exercise more control. To begin with I tried imposing a no spend week on myself, just to get an idea of how bad my spending habits were. This made me have quite a few revelations about how the world is designed to make you want to spend money. TV adverts telling me I could do with x, y or z that I never even realised was a problem until they told me so.
Nowadays I watch a lot less TV, but when I do I make a point of muting the adverts. Then when/if I watch them it is more enjoyable AND have you ever noticed that for some reason the volume goes up? Muting the adverts means I do not have to suffer through three to four minutes of ridiculously loud noise telling me how my life would be better with the latest foundation or some new toothpaste.
My new rules for buying things now are with clothes: Do I need it?
Will I wear it? When will I wear it? What else will I wear it with?
If I cannot come up with a reasonable answer then I probably should not be getting it. If I want a top or a dress to wear just once then I should probably be asking myself: Is there nothing I already own that could do the same job?
For food: I make a list before I go to the supermarket of what I actually need. I also look in the fridge and cupboards and freezer first. There is little point in buying a weeks worth of yoghurt’s every week if you still have a weeks worth left. Making a meal plan can help you plan what food you actually need, although when doing this one should take into account surplus food from leftovers.
Things that are not on the list do not go in the basket.
That is the other thing, I tend to use a basket. That way I have to carry all my items and in building arm muscle it also acts as a disincentive to browse every aisle at 1 mile per hour. The only other thing to do than having a list at this point is to set a budget. Sometimes I may put on my list £1.00 to spend on treats or some form of pudding. So when there are two that I want I have to pick rather than getting both.
When buying food one should think: Am I going to use this before it goes off?
Buying things can seem so natural but when you have worked so hard to earn those pennies. Another way of thinking is: Is a cinema ticket worth an hour of my time at work? Most of the time I think yes. But this can be applied to everything.
Is that £50 dress you like worth a days work? I imagine you work pretty hard so does that dress deserve your dedication.
I now practise buying only what I need. What I actually need, not what I think I need, and before deciding I need something I try to ask myself, are there any alternatives? Could I make do without buying anything.
Take wrapping paper for an example; rather than buy a role of wrapping paper last Christmas I chose to use bits of paper I had in my recycling bin that were going to get recycled anyway. If you have a holiday brochure they go very nicely. And for next year I hope to make cloth gift bags that will be reusable time and again from some clothes that I was going to throw away.
What about you? Any hints or suggestions.