I love a good bargain and if you’re a thrifty kind of person, I’ll bet my Sunday hat that you do too.
Scouring charity shops, boot markets, eBay, closing down sales, collectors fairs and antiques shops is something I get a whole lot more pleasure from than browsing the rails in designer outlets or even lazing on the beach in some exotic, far off location. Yepp, that's true. And even when I am away on holiday I find myself looking for equivalent places there, too!
But all this bargain hunting can have a downside, especially if you’re just starting out on your journey towards a simpler way of living. It can become an addiction. I know, because it happened to me. Thankfully, I’ve learned my lesson.
Suddenly you find yourself buying stuff just because it’s cheap. I had an all-singing, all-dancing food processor that I very rarely used because it was so damned complicated that it was easier to just do things by hand, but it was heavily marked down in a sale so I bought because it was a ‘bargain’. I had clothes I never wore, books I never read, CDs I never listened to, films I never watched, pictures that were never hung, yarn that was never knitted up, and… well, need I say more? My house was bursting at the seams with ‘bargains’.
This is one of the things that those who are just starting to build a more simple, frugal lifestyle need to be aware of. It’s easy to become so preoccupied with bargain hunting that anything that’s cheap seems to shout ‘buy me’ in much the same way more expensive things did before. The urge to spend is still there – it takes a while for your mind to adjust to your new situation - you just use your money on ‘bargains’ instead.
No matter how cheap something is, it’s only a bargain if you actually need it. If you have a perfectly serviceable vacuum cleaner, the one in the shop that’s marked down by 50% isn’t a bargain; you’ll still be spending money unnecessarily, money that you could spend on something you really do need, or add to your savings. And while stockpiling food is a good idea, those packs of cereal on BOGOF aren’t a bargain if you’ve never tried them and may not even like them.
Being thrifty with your money is as much about thinking about why you’re spending your money as it is about what you’re spending it on. Before parting with your cash – or handing over your plastic – always ask yourself “do I really need this?” and be honest with yourself when you answer. With so much media pressure around us it’s easy to confuse needs and wants, but deep down inside us we all know the difference.
As I said, I’ve made these mistakes and would hate for others who are just starting to change their lives around to do the same. It just makes things so much more difficult. Please try to be aware of your spending and don’t let bargain hunting become an obsession. It’s simply part of your new lifestyle, not the be all and end all to it.