Or why window shopping is bad for you, oh and magazines, the internet and tv!
The most simple and straightforward way to save money and live frugally is just to avoid shops. Hardly a jaw-dropping surprise that one is it? But it is true that window shopping whilst relaxing and an excuse for a coffee with friends, is also totally detrimental to a frugal life. If you don’t see stuff you don’t think about all the things you are missing, or would like to have.
I’m pretty lucky as I am not a big shopper. In an ideal world my sister would be my personal shopper (though the clothes budget would go through the roof since she likes “nice” things and knows about “nice” brands), bringing me home perfect buys that she just knows will suit me. I simply haven’t got the enthusiasm for all that elbowing women out of the way and imagining what something on a hanger will actually look like. And anyway who knows what size I am, every shop is different of course.
So saving money by simply not bothering to buy things has been fairly straightforward for me.
Until that is the advent of our online adventures writing on the internet to make the money that keeps us living in our mountain bubble. Now I write regularly about the latest “must haves” and great new deals. Things I never knew existed are now my world, and slowly but surely all those completely unessential items that much of the western world deems important are infiltrating my brain.
Without care I could become someone that “wants” stuff. All sorts of stuff. Pretty accessories for gadgets I don’t own. Cool toys for kids I don’t have. Garden tools that the finca would kill. Posh garden fire pits that we aren’t allowed to use here. The list goes on and on. Desire trying to change me into a person that shops!
Stuff it seems is best avoided. Whether its in shops, on tv or worse still on the internet, where a purchase is just a click and an imaginary transaction away.
Cash is the frugal living friend. Forget the cards and virtual shopping. Take real money out of the bank – it’s monopoly for grown ups. It feels nice and you can count it properly and spend it knowing exactly what you have left. Depressing sometimes but always better than the surprise overdraft you can’t afford to pay off.
During our most dire financial straights the shopping bills were halved. How? Well firstly we grow what we can so of course that helps a great deal so long as you are religious about eating it all – even if it means cabbage every day for a few months, followed by a few months of beans. So whatever we grew we ate. And of course that went for all food in the house – reducing waste is such an obvious way to make huge savings. But most importantly I took the small amount of money available to the supermarket in real cash form. Then as I wondered the aisles I roughly added up what I would be spending as I put items into the trolley. It’s a no-brainer but simply not something I had ever really done, though we have never been exactly flush with cash.
This is the absolute easiest way to avoid buying unnecessary luxuries and to find the best deals around. Of course the tension as the items were totted up at the tills can be quite unnerving, but such is life with little to spend.
Now I need to avoid all the things I spend all day writing about. Pretty shiny useless things, things that eat power, things that break, things that will no longer be cool in six months time and will need to be “upgraded”. All this modern clutter can eat into your brain. Surely your life would be better with the latest silver doo-dah?
Window shopping I can avoid coz I hate it. And TV ads for the most part as our dodgy TV reception filters these out before they could start nagging away at my brain. Magazines are easy to avoid since I don’t care who is “dancing on ice” or doing the samba this week. But the internet…
The web is a dangerous place. I should just hang around here reading frugal living tips and ideas for a more self sufficient life, but avoid all else. Of course I am a hypocrite – I want others with spare cash to spend it on things that will pay for some new boots for me! But only if they really want to – and can afford it, honest… I don’t know why half the stuff that is out there is wanted, but the more we see the more we want and then the more we need to go with all the other stuff – stupid but it’s why much of the world has a job I guess.