Last year I was ambling around a charity shop on my lunch break, looking for a bargain read, when I came across Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine.
Triggered partly by the excesses of Christmas, the author decided to cut out all non-essential spending for a whole year, from clothes to going out, and this book is a record of her trials and tribulations. There are rather a lot of stats about private and public spending etc in the US which I confess I skipped but the rest makes an interesting read.
Levine’s approach is far more extreme than anything I would ever consider (unless I was really in a financial corner) but it certainly got me thinking about what I spent my money on. It is all too easy to get sucked into the trap of thinking we need this and we need that – to be convinced that our clothes are the wrong cut or the wrong colour depending upon the latest whim of the fashion industry which makes a fortune out of continually shifting the goal posts.
In mid-January I decided to stop buying magazines and get a weekend newspaper instead. They offer plenty of supplements and, at around £1.50 depending on which you buy, you get a LOT of reading material. In the newspapers and online many people seem to be talking about a shift towards buying classic/good quality clothing instead of cheap knock-offs as they last longer and don’t date as quickly. It is something I’ll be thinking about next time I go shopping. I wouldn’t say I’ll never pick up something fun and cheap again but I doubt I’ll ever do it as often as I used to.
Speaking of magazines, I worked out that I used to spend £20 a month on them. I had two favourite monthly glossies and one favourite weekly, which I often used to supplement with a couple of others just to pass the time. I like magazines. BUT. I don’t want to spend £20 a month to feel like I ought to be on a diet/need a miracle in a jar/should buy new clothes/care about what Jen and Ange really think about each other. Don’t get me wrong. When my savings are well underway I’ll buy the odd magazine – they can be good fun and offer a bit of light relief. Its just that buying 10 a month puts a whole lot of ideas in your head about buying stuff that will be useless or out of date in a nano-second!