Stop Spending Mindlessly

Senseless spending is spending mindlessly, buying things for the sake of doing so rather than because you need them. Economists, banks, and businesses have sold consumers the myth that constant consumerism or greed is good. People think that buying things improves their standing in society, their self-esteem, or their lives.

People buy items needlessly in blind panic sometimes, one observer saw people mindlessly buying meat and other perishable goods in New York in preparation for Hurricane Sandy. Their politicians and power companies had warned that power outages were expected and indeed occurred. How did those people believe they were going to store or cook such perishable food when the hurricane put the power out? Had they considered their purchases more carefully they would have bought canned and other non-perishable foods?

People update their mobile telephones, when a new and improved telephone hits the market, not because they need the new, improved features, it provides but because advertising hype tells them that they must have the latest ‘phone or they are insignificant. For example, ‘G’ excitedly told her sister about all the features on her latest mobile telephone. G’s sister asked what she actually used the telephone for, and G replied voice calls and text messages. G never did use all those marvelous features on her new mobile telephone a basic mobile telephone would have suited her needs.

Other people buy items because of the label they bear rather than because they are quality items that will last. In another example, X’s two workmates showed her the designer handbags they had bought. The bags were four hundred pounds each but they were poor quality plastic. The stitching on one was beginning to unravel, and, on the other, was not even straight. X knew that the women had spent nearly half their month’s wages on these items and also knew that for a quarter of the price she could have bought a good quality leather handbag that would last four times longer than these poor items, but they were happy because they bore a famous designer name.  

Many people treat shopping for food in a similar way, which is why British and American people waste so much food. Some people walk around the supermarket in a dream, picking up all the brightly coloured packets and putting them into their trolleys without a thought. They do not think about whether they will actually use that food. They have little idea what they already have in the cupboard at home.

Stopping senseless spending is simply a matter of thinking about what you are doing, and deciding between needs, wants, and passing fancy. If you have one pair of shoes, which have a hole in them that the shoe mender cannot repair, then you need to buy new shoes. However, if you have twenty pairs of shoes in the wardrobe and you see some shoes in a particularly fetching colour that matches an outfit you already possess, and will be perfect for your cousin’s wedding next month, that is a want. If the shoes match none of your outfits, and necessitate you buying a complete new outfit as well, they are a passing fancy.

In these difficult economic times, everyone is reducing their spending because incomes are falling. Millions are unemployed and those still lucky enough to remain in a job are still suffering wage freezes, and cuts in hours. The latest unemployment figures in the United Kingdom, cheered the government, however, when you look behind the figures, you discover that many people took part-time, temporary or short term contract jobs, because full time positions are in short supply.

There are several strands to stopping senseless spending. When you go shopping for any item, keep your wits about you. Shops want your money and they try to fool you with tricks. Think about what you need from the item. An apparent bargain could cost you dearly. Will you use the item more than a couple of times? If you are buying a mobile telephone, do you really need the latest model, with fancy features that you will pay dearly for but never use, or would a basic much cheaper model serve you better. Compare prices and quality. A designer item is not necessarily better quality than an unnamed item of the same type. You pay for that glitzy name label. When you are buying clothes, classic designs that will not date are better value than fashion fads.

Avoid impulse buys. Think about your spending behaviour, do you really need that expensive coffee in the shiny coffee shop on the way to work? Look at all your goods and services and decide whether you really need them. For example, does your cable or satellite TV package include channels that no one ever watches? Perhaps a cheaper package would save you money and still provide the viewing your family requires. Some companies provide cheaper deals if you bundle services together, for example, bundling your internet, telephone and television service together is often much cheaper than buying these services separately. Compare your current service provider’s service and price with other deals in the market; it is possible the same service costs less elsewhere.

Try not to go shopping for anything, when you are feeling down, the temptation to buy yourself treats is too great. Eat before you go food shopping, if you go shopping hungry, you will buy things that you do not need. Convenience meals are expensive; cooking meals at home, from scratch, is cheaper, far more nutritious and can be as quick as heating a convenience meal. There is often little difference between expensive branded products and supermarket own label products, except that own label products are a lot cheaper. Hard discount stores often provide items at much cheaper prices than elsewhere, for example, one hard discount store sells a litre of extra-virgin olive oil for about a quarter of the price that supermarket charge.

Despite what manufacturers say in their advertizing, you do not need myriad cleaning products. If you have a whole cupboard full of cleaning products, manufacturers are fooling you. Many modern cleaning products contain harmful chemicals. If you want to cut down on cleaning products, there are frugal ways to make your own from ordinary products that every household has in the cupboard.

The way to stop senseless spending is to think carefully about all the goods and services that you buy. Do you need them all? If you do, perhaps there is a way to get them cheaper. Compare prices and ensure that you are getting value for money. Shopping mindfully rather than mindlessly will save you money; retailers do not necessarily benefit from informed, mindful shoppers because they cannot bamboozle them. Items that you buy mindfully will give you far more pleasure than items bought thoughtlessly.