I love to shop.
As we’ve discussed before, I am an anti-fashionista– I find keeping up with trends difficult, expensive and… well… kind of pointless. But, like most women, spending money gives me a strange, inexplicable glow.
I attempt to keep my spending habits on the healthy side. I’m a utilizer of lists, and I keep an updated one tucked into the back of my diary– The Official List of Things That Need To Be Bought.
Currently, the lists contents contain– boys pants in a size four, and boys shoes in an eleven; some fishnet stockings, and hooks for my bedroom walls. With the revered List tucked safely into my bag, if I happen to be out and about (or online…) and that rampant desire to spend hits me, I know what I need to spend on– and that’s always easier to justify than buying things on impulse.
Since moving to TinyTrainTown, I’ve taken to online shopping with a vengeance. It works– with the nearest department store an hour round trip away, websites that offer the same products with quick delivery have become my bestest friends and allies against business and can’t-be-botheredness.
Online shopping is a whole different world. Forget the psychological thrill of ’winning’ things on eBay– there is a level of instant gratification involved in hitting the ’Pay Now’ button. The only drawback being that you then have to wait for the postie to deliver the actual, physical gratification of the product you bought a week ago.
But it can save you a small fortune.
I’ve recently discovered the beauty of coupon shopping sites. It’s a concept our overseas shopaholic counterparts have been using for years, but it’s only just becoming popular in Australia. The basic premise is– companies offer a massive discount on a product or service, on the condition that a certain number of people will buy the deal. Done online, the required number of people is almost always hit, which mean you are guaranteed discounts of up to eighty percent (hello, new flip cam… those busted speakers are a bitch.)
|Speeding fines= not cool. Do as I say, not as I do…|
Coming from a fairly middle class family of moderate means, I learnt to budget living with my Nan when I was a teenager. I’d watch her, weekly, as she wrote out her lists, her bills, incomings and outgoings, and did the sums– “robbing Peter to pay Paul” she called it, transferring money from one card or account to another to cover that week’s expenses. Recently, I’ve learnt a whole new lesson in budgeting, and it’s made me almost sad, because the people who need access to this kind of purchasing the most are the people who just don’t have it… the sad truth is, it’s much easier to save money when you already have money in the bank.
With a surplus of funds behind you, you can do things like pay your insurance premiums in bulk, rather than monthly with interest. You can afford to keep your car serviced and maintained, rather than pumping a fortune under its hood when it inevitably breaks down (and perhaps catches fire). You can get ahead on your bills, chip away at them slowly, rather than fainting when you open an electricity bill worth more than a month’s wages.
Spotting a huge special on a non–perishable item that you use often, whether online or in a psychical store, is nothing short of plain annoying when you’re broke. Things like toothpaste and deodorant and shampoo- that won’t go off and are always useful- are awesome to buy in bulk lots when you see them for half price or less– just make sure you’ve got the storage space at home for them. Same goes for miscellaneous toys, candles, coffee cups and pretty bits and pieces– start buying them when you see them cheap and store them in a ‘present box’ (somewhere the kids can’t find them…). Christmas last year cost me about two hundred dollars in total- most of the gifts I needed had already been squirreled and stockpiled throughout the year.
It’s actually been strange and difficult to adjust to, bearing the weight of the responsibility of the family’s budget on my shoulders– in the Before, Tony always took care of that. I’m learning, slowly, to shop smart and cheap online, and to identify all that money anxiety that comes with it.
We’ll file this one under ‘sole parenting’s a bitch’. But, hey- so far, so good. Can’t ask for anything more than that.