Time was I would go ‘window shopping’ with my friends after pay day and end up spending a large chunk of my salary. It felt good at the time, but not so great a couple of weeks later, when I realised I had too much month left for my remaining cash. These days I want to save more money and buy a lot less stuff.
Also, anything I buy this year will be pre-loved, as I have pledged a year of buying second hand. But you can still be tempted by endless stuff, even if you aren’t buying new!
Too much stuff
These days I feel that stuff – the books, DVDs, clothes, gadgets and general paraphernalia that clutter up our homes and lives – rarely brings much lasting satisfaction. I am not talking about all purchases. For example, have used my classic Kenwood mixer for around 30 years. As I purchased it second hand in the first place I consider this a very good investment purchase!
However, my fruit and vegetable juicer is gathered dust in a cupboard before I eventually sold it. What a waste of money.
Another investment purchase was the Echo Dot * I bought Mr S for Christmas last year, which we use every day. I can see us using this until it stops working. It is brilliant! I am listening to the most popular playlist that Alexa very kindly put on for me as I type this. Now we have this, I can’t see us needing to buy any more charity shop CDs, another temptation for both of us.
I am not saying don’t buy anything. Just consider whether you really want it, will use it or can afford it before you fork out your hard earned cash. Remember, that stuff equals money. Also, if you are bothered by clutter, think about where you will put it!
But how can you learn to stop impulse buying endless stuff? Here are some tips to help you break the spending habit, avoid clutter and save money in the process.
How to buy less stuff and save more money
Unsubscribe from mailing lists
I try really hard not to sign up for marketing offers and mailing lists when I make online purchases. Nevertheless, the odd one gets through. Make the time to unsubscribe so that you don’t get temptation through your inbox every day.
Think how many hours you need to work to buy stuff
This one works wonders for me. Know your hourly wage after tax. When you are tempted to buy something, consider how many hours you would need to work to pay for it. In the excellent book Your Money or Your Life*, the authors Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez recommend looking at your purchases in terms of how much life energy (ie the time spent at work) you are trading to pay for your lifestyle. As many of us live for the weekends, this is a great tip!
Reward yourself differently
We all have those ‘I have been working hard, I deserve to treat myself’ moments. But if you want to save more money, how about rewarding yourself in a different way? Rather than buying a new skirt or top, put some money aside in your holiday fund maybe, invite a friend round for coffee and a chat, allow yourself time to sit and read a book or run yourself the deepest bubble bath and light a candle.
Don’t go shopping for fun
There are so many free or cheap things you can do for fun. Going shopping in the mall is not one of them if you want to save more money, especially if you are prone to give into temptation. Shop from your wardrobe instead and remember what you already have. Visit your local library or free museum. Take a walk around your neighbourhood – be a tourist in your own town!
Don’t browse websites or catalogues out of boredom
As above. There are many things you can do if you are bored. Read some of the books you impulse purchased but never got round to (my vice). Take up a cheap hobby if you are prone to boredom – rambling, knitting, cooking, gardening, painting, wildlife spotting…use your imagination. Personally, I never pick up or order catalogues now, not even the seed catalogues I used to get.
Consider the waste from every purchase
If you are concerned about packaging and its negative effects on the environment, as I am, expand your thinking to include the waste and energy used by the items you impulse purchase. If you stop and consider the manufacture, transport, packaging and pollution that might arise from each item you buy, you might think that you don’t just want to save more money; you also would like to minimise the impact of your lifestyle on the planet.
Many of us have vague goals about what we want to achieve in our lives. Maybe we have dreams to travel, buy a house, save for our children’s university costs, get a better car or whatever. If your dreams seem distant and impossible, starting a savings fund towards them and considering your purchases in terms of how much you won’t be able to put in your savings because of the money you spend, your perspective is likely to change.
You should at the very least save an emergency fund. Spending less could give you the security of knowing you have a cushion in case you have a sudden unexpected expense.
Once you begin to develop new thinking patterns about your spending habits, it becomes easier to resist the urges to the point where you barely have those urges. You can save more money and live the life you really want.
If you want to have a chat about frugal living and buying second hand, come and join my Facebook group!