Friday, 7 March 2008

Bargains - Be Warned!

Photo: Welshwitch

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.

Sharon J


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Richard said...

She's right you know. We'd go to boot markets and I'd come back with a book and she'd have the entire contents of someone's flat in several carrier bags. But it was fun...

happyhippychick said...

I had to stop myself going to jumble sales because I was filling my house with 'bargains' too... it was fine when I first bought the house but after a few years I just ran out of room!

I'm hoping to do a car boot in a month or so and am going to be very strict with myself and restrain from spending at the other stalls so I don't come back with more than I go with

beanpole said...

Sharon I dont think anybody can ever have to many bargain clothes. I won an urban stone top on ebay and a pair of jaspar conran jeans both for less than a tenner. Wearing good clothes makes me feel confidant so i'm happier then.

Sharon J said...

Yes, I remember those days well, Richard. I just hope I'm strong enough to start visiting the car boots again once they start up this year. A mooch round the boot market followed by a leisurely glass of shandy in a nearby pub garden... what a way to spend a Sunday :)

Rae. It's nice to know I wasn't the only one who became bargain addicted. We did a car boot about ten years ago now and although I didn't buy quite as much as we sold, I sure as heck went home with more than my fair share! I told myself that I was getting rid of stuff I didn't want to make way for stuff I did want but I didn't really want half of what I bought either, really. Cheap is just so tempting sometimes, though.

Beanpole. I'm going to be brutally honest now and say that it's a shame that you need to find your confidence in designer clothes. Really, confidence should come from within, from knowing that regardless of what you're wearing that you ARE a valuable member of society. I think a lot may well depend on 'acceptance' though. If our friends are all dressed in designer clothes then we can often feel we're a lesser person for not being able to keep up. Sadly, this is a product of the consumer backed growth economy based society we live in. It's how those who are fattening up their bank accounts while ours are becoming smaller want us to feel.

I don't think 'good' necessarily equates with 'designer' either although I suppose that depends on how you're defining the word 'good'.

K said...

This is a good reminder as garage sale season comes! Perhaps this year I will try walking around town. That way if I don't want to carry it, then I won't get it. Or maybe I will make a list of what I would like to look for and only stick to the list. I definitely need to do some soul searching in this area!

Richard said...

I got two pairs of jeans for a tenner in Matalan. My attitude to designer jeans is that you've got to look at the wearer's arse to know what they are so what's the point if the wearer can't see you?

Sharon J said...

Walking sounds like a good idea, K. Plenty of exercise and not so much spending.

Even if I could walk more than about a 100 yards or so I wouldn't be able to walk to any of the places where I can pick up cheap stuff as they're all too far away. It's a pity we don't have garage sales here.

Lol, Richard. At least that gives you guys an excuse to be looking at ladies posteriors. "Just checking the make of your jeans, love".

beanpole said...

i expect your right about the freinds thing because my group do wear designer stuff but if I stopped wearing it then I wouldn't feel like i fit in properly anymore and that would knock my confidence. Also when I said good I didn't mean good quality but good makes.

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