To buy or not to buy...

Its a bloody good question, isn't it?

Let me start of by explaining that five or so years ago, I was the poster child for consumerism. I had a good job, I earned more than my friends and was perfectly happy to throw that money around. If I saw something I liked and wanted, then I had it. Whether I needed or could afford it didn't even factor into the decision.

Credit card companies loved me. I never carried cash and plastic was simply an extension of my right arm. It was always there, simple, quick and painless. I never paid off the balance every month, I never checked rates or anything else with other companies. I was just merrily cruising through life.

And then I got in trouble, but then you saw that coming didn't you? Anyone living a lifestyle like mine is bound to get in the shit at some stage. I was in debt to my eyeballs and couldn't afford to pay the bills.

Worse than that, I had a house filled with everything I'd ever wanted and I couldn't enjoy a single item. When I left the house in the morning and lifted my Folli Folli (handstitched for a single perfect piece of leather) handbag, instead of admiring it and loving it like I had when I bought it, all I could see was "three more payments" floating before my eyes. Nothing was truly mine, I can honestly say there were only a handful of things in my home which I truly owned outright.

After that hard time I lived a hard line frugal lifestyle. Only the very basic necessities were purchased and every last penny I earned went to paying off debt. There were no new clothes bought, no work beyond necessary upkeep was carried out to the house. No treats, no nice things, zip. I sold almost everything I had spent the last few years buying to pay down the debt.

I finally got clear.

And I realised something important. I didn't miss any of things I had sold, which was about 90% of what I owned.

What I did enjoy was the space and to be able to see the few remaining things, which I hadn't the heart to part with, properly for the first in a long time. That and sleeping soundly at night, I really enjoyed that.

So after all this, do I think that buying things "just because" is a bad thing?

No, not really.

My frugal ways over the last few years were born from necessity and served a very real purchase. A lot of my habits still remain though. I still cook from scratch. I grow as many vegetables and fruit in my little garden as possible. I buy second hand, reuse and repurpose as often as humanly possible. In saying that though I no longer buy 20lbs of beef or chicken, bring it home and cook it into meals before freeze them all for later just because the meat was on offer. Because let me tell you, those meals may still be perfectly ok to eat in three or even six months time, but they do not taste great. I prefer fresh and if I'm clever about it, fresh can still be inexpensive and almost nothing goes to waste.

I have plans to start decorating my home over the next while. It may take a few months, it may take a year I still don't know, but I have come to the realisation after having a home filled with crap, that I'd like to make as many of things I surround myself with as possible.

I can't make everything, I know that. It just isn't physically possible to have the time and the knowledge to make everything I would like ow need in my home, but I will make the window coverings and cushions. I'll have a go at my first ever quilt, a knitted scene on one side and patchwork on the other, for Toots. I'll make rugs for my bathrooms and artwork for my walls. I use a lot of what I already own in my own home. Anything I decide has served its purpose for me will be listed in Freecycle or donated to charity.

What I have decided is that from now on, there will be no more tat or rubbish bargains crossing my doorstep. No more crap I've bought just because it was a bargain.

Instead, if I can't make what I want, then I'll have someone else do it for me. If I need new crockery I'll go and see them and if I need a new vase I'll ask her.

My point is that from now on I only want to spend my hard earned cash on things I love and things I need, things I'll enjoy making myself and things that someone else enjoyed making for me.

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