With all the Black Friday chaos around today, it made me realise that so many people (including myself on occasion) feel a compulsion to ‘buy’ to find a bargain, to get a great deal – to shop. I dealt with this many times when teaching confidence building skills; so many students would use shopping to make themselves feel validated, successful or just to get ‘things’ that for a brief moment made them feel good. Of course shopping is not a bad thing, and we can help the economy, support small businesses and do great things with our shopping… but just in case you want a break – here are 10 ways not to shop…
- Do something else! This is a bit cheeky, but actually quite a genuine suggestion. If you shop because you are bored, or it’s become a habit then try breaking your routine and changing things up a bit. If you shop because that’s the way to walk home for example, take a new route one day – we discovered that by just crossing the road a bit further up the path we could go past the shop quite easily… even the kids were distracted enough to not mention all the magazines and sweets they wanted.
- Unsubscribe your Email. You may find that over the years you have given your email address out to lots of companies… and are now in receipt of daily/weekly/monthly messages about deals, once in a lifetime offers and discounts. Some of these are useful as you find out about a free delivery offer, or are for companies you regularly use and the discounts are relevant. However, many of these will just be junk – and an enticement to shop that isn’t good for your pocket and eventually for your self esteem. Spend a hour ditching and unsubscribing so you are not tempted anymore. The number of email alerts today was staggering… my hour will be done over the weekend.
- Make a List. When you see something you really love, or must have – write a list of what you already have that serves that purpose, or does that thing. Being aware of what we already own is a sometimes surprising experience. If you still REALLY need/want that item, give yourself 48 hours to think on it… the urgency for gratification will be over by then, and if you still feel as strongly and it’s within your budget then go for it.
- Sell Something. This sounds completely the wrong way around, but you might want to try a ‘one in, one out’ policy for a short time to see what reaction it brings. This can be particularly useful for children to consider if they want the new thing more than one of their current things… Of course you could give something away but by selling something you raise funds and this can be very supportive psychological switch for people who like the thrill of finding a deal. It also means that you can put any money you raise towards future purchases.
- Write a Wish List. In this modern world we have stopped waiting for things, in the West we live in a high demand and fast paced culture and this means if we see something we just get it and pay for it later if necessary. How many of us have no idea what to give a relative or friend as a gift because they just buy what they need? Start a wish list and when you see something that you would like, just jot it down. If you are asked what you would like for a birthday, festival, treat etc you will have a whole load of ideas in all price ranges! Some major website have a list facility which you can share electronically, there is also Elfster which you can hold a list on or just good ol’ fashioned paper and pen.
- Make a Deal. If you mostly shop for others, you may find that to save money and sanity they would also like to cut back and you could suggest any number of new ways to show appreciation and affection. For example, if you give to other families at Christmas you could suggest not buying for adults but only for kids… or doing a Secret Santa with a fixed budget to everyone gets just one present… or setting a budget for gifts (new under £5 gift guide coming soon!)… or trading skills instead of things e.g. a haircut for a lawn mown, a babysit for a cake.
- Make Something. If your desire to shop is actually about wanting new things in your life, it might be that you can make them yourself, or join a group that could teach you, or help you or you could take part in a creative community event. The thrill you seek from owning new things doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. It may be that you already have an item you could upcycle or recycle? You may have a skill you can re-kindle, or it might be fun to learn something new? Creativity is an important expression of who we are – that may be in the traditional sense of artistic output or in the form of music, dance, reading, gardening… whatever gets you going.
- Check a Deal. If you really do need/want to shop for a specific item, make sure you do some research – a ‘bargain’ deal today was in fact still £9 more than in my local shop (this was a children’s toy) – amazing deals are not always what they seem. Make sure you shop around and also look at cashback sites like TopCashBack to see if you can gain from your purchase in any way. Also remember if you have any loyalty cards to check if the benefit of the points or rewards change where you purchase your item.
- Have a Budget. This is a real essential and as you move to a more frugal life generally the idea of a budget will get less boring! There should be a hierarchy in the budget, so essentials like the roof over your head and food come above a new TV… yes Mr F they do!!
- No Regrets. Mostly the things you buy should give you joy. If you hide them, regret them, go without something you love to pay for them then they are not good purchases. If you never wear or use the item – that was money you could have spent on a trip out, a take away or whatever a treat would look like to you. I always ask myself ‘how would I feel about buying that in 5 days time?’. You can certainly have lovely things, and enjoy shopping but make sure you feel in control and get to have fun with it.
Did you get anything in the Black Friday chaos today?
It’s been a much calmer week all round, and so ‘we’ have started to consider what we are buying for Christmas and lists have been created – presents, food, cards etc. One strategy we use is to stick to one supermarket and use their points scheme, this means we have a nice sum to use for our Christmas Treat Foods.
A new strategy is to use TopCashBack for items we buy online (we also order things via this for family and friends). I am totally amazed by how much we have saved over the year by using TopCashBack and when I was checking how to actually get the money out I realised that you can get an extra 6% more money FOR FREE by having your money on a shop card instead of straight to your bank. This could be used as a gift card for someone, or in a shop we are likely to be getting presents from anyway – with four kids every penny counts.
Just to prove I’m not the only person banging on about reusing mugs, or using recycled products, here is The Guardian showcasing the argument for coffee shops (you know who I mean…) being more green. However, we can all make an individual difference too, but recycling our cups or taking our own – and yes, this is going to be another photo of my own re-using mug as I love it sooooo much.
Used postage stamps, from anywhere in the world, of any age, are a valuable way for charities to raise funds. They sell these stamps, usually by the sack, to stamp collectors. Called “Philately”, stamp collecting is a thriving hobby among people of all ages. You can learn about different countries histories, culture, communications, and much more. We all receive mail, and normally once we are finished with the envelope, it ends up in the bin – but this is a way that you can save something that you might likely throw away (what could be better than saving something from landfill, or the compost bin, and at the same time supporting whatever cause is important to you, as well?) Save stamps from your office mail, Christmas cards, birthday cards, anything with a stamp on. Once you are finished with the envelope, carefully tear the stamp off the envelope, taking care to remove an area of paper around the stamp. Collectors like the stamp to be undamaged, and even check for the perforations (those frilly bits around the stamp edges!). Removing an area of paper around the stamp, ensures that the stamp is undamaged and therefore worth the most to the charity. If you would like to find charities to support with your used stamps, have a look at http://usedstampsforcharity.weebly.com/ which has a regularly updated list of UK charities needing used stamps, including the RNLI, many health and animal charities.
Another great recycling project, this time with old but loved t-shirts. Sometimes you just can’t throw them away, and here are some fun ideas of how to give them a second life. This is particularly nice with kids clothes that they have grown out of, or loved items that have been worn until holes appeared…
Show me your makes!
Whether you ‘do’ Halloween or not, this is a fun project to recycle some good ol’ toilet rolls – as you may have noticed, we keep all of ours to use all year round – we love bats and have a bat box on the house so you don’t have to link it to the end of October if you don’t want to…
Here’s a project for all you recyclers out there – thanks to Nifty…
I’m aware that the exhaustion of parenting has somewhat changed my creative habits, I rarely do creative works for myself nowadays, although I’m often up to my neck in PVA and tissue paper for the kids. I miss the part of me that used to upcycle and recycle more, so I was particularly inspired by this…
This is a brilliant example of reusing and recycling to meet a real need. Jess used some old shoes boxes, cereal packs and the jolly old loo roll tubes to make a truly unique and practical pen holder. Covered in wrapping paper and some stickers it is a bespoke item – costing nothing but saving a fortune. It took me back to my childhood Blue Peter projects, many of which I made and some of which I think are still in my parents loft!
Jess is creative on many more levels, so if you want to pay her a visit and
feel inspired by beautiful things, give her a ‘hello’ from here x
The school holidays are upon us, and we now have four kids eating us out of house and home… quick fixes are lots of home baking (double whammy of cheap AND entertainment) and Approved Foods, who sell off near to and out of date foods. We have just ordered enough food for snacks etc to last the whole of the holidays, all in date until the end of August for less than one lunch out for us all!