Penny Saving Tips – But do you really, really want it?
In the same way that there is more to Lauren Child than Charlie and Lola, there is more to Helen Fielding than Bridget Jones.
If you haven’t read the most excellent “Olivia Joules and the over-active imagination” I would urge you to do so, asap.
Without (hopefully) too many spoilers for those of you yet to read it, the eponymous heroine Olivia Joules has a number of rules for living which I’ve found extremely useful. The two most relevant to this column are rules 6 and 10:
6. It is better to buy one expensive thing that you really like, rather than several cheap ones that you only quite like.
10. Only buy clothes that make you feel like doing a small dance.
These are great rules for saving money. So my advice to you is that if you’re trying to save money, don’t always go for the “bargain”. Don’t buy things which are reduced in the sale, or not quite what you were looking for but cheap. Those will (almost) invariably be a waste of money.
Before you reach for your wallet to buy that dress that’s 75% off or the shoes that are an absolute steal, ask yourself, do you really, really want them?
Try sauntering out of the shop casually to give yourself some thinking time. Then once you are a little way away, let your mind stray onto the possibility that someone might buy it/them before you go back to the shop. How does that make you feel? If you’ve already turned straight around and are heading back to the shop in a cold sweat before you’ve finished processing the thought, then you probably should buy them.
If you’re thinking “well they weren’t exactly the right colour but they were a complete bargain”, then keep walking away and find something you really, really love.
Some people will tell you to plan shopping trips with precision to avoid wasting money. That might work for some people. I find the best things I own were bought on a whim, generally when I wasn’t actually planning to buy anything at all. What they have in common is that I couldn’t bear not to buy them.
Being rather far from perfect I have a number of things in my wardrobe which were excellent value or didn’t cost much and would possibly come in useful. Generally purchased when I needed “a skirt” or “a pair of trousers”, got bored looking and bought something which looked like it would be serviceable and wasn’t too expensive. Said items spend most of their time in the wardrobe…
By contrast I have a short, black, cotton jersey dress which I bought from Laura Ashley over a decade ago when I was a student. I couldn’t bear to leave it there, it made me feel like a million dollars and the novelty of a sleek black Laura Ashley dress amidst the popular floral image made it even more compelling.
I still love wearing that dress, it always goes on summer holidays with me.
This doesn’t just apply to clothes and shoes, it applies to everything, food, music, magazines, theatre tickets or any of the myriad of things we spend our hard earned cash on.
My message is:
something you don’t really, really want will probably be a waste of money;
something you really, really love will probably be worth its weight in gold.