I am a Consumer, Therefore I Consume

I have been flexing my shopping muscles.

Restrained, considered purchases, contraband in terms of the no spend year but not wild and decadent items in them self, they were all practical, but still I have anxiety.

Things needed replacing in our house. The clock in the kitchen broke, we didn’t realise how essential it was to our ability to get ready until it was gone. The silicon whisk broke ages ago, but I had ‘fixed’ it, but then when a piece of the silicon found it’s way into one of my vegetable muffins I knew it needed replacing. We needed a tin opener, because our old tin opener took about half an hour and lots of strength to get round a tin.

The boy bought the clock, because he has money, whereas I have raided my penny tin several times already this month. The whisk and tin opener were partially funded by the household budget.

I bought an SD card for my phone almost exclusively funded with amazon vouchers, it cost me just £1.21 (which was primarily the postage). I needed that, yet it is still contraband according to my rules, but I am certain it will save me money in the long run as it will extend the life of my phone (and give me space for money saving apps).

And for a long time I have felt that I need a rain coat. Something that is light weight as it may rain all the time in the UK but it gets pretty humid when it does and I’m a sweaty Betty at the best of times. I wanted something that went past the waist as I had a rain coat in the past which ended at the waist which just meant all the water ran off the coat and into my pants. Fun times.

I decided to look at the Tesco website on the basis that I have been saving my Tesco Clubcard vouchers for 18 months and had a hefty £26.50 to my name.

(To anyone who is confused by this I’ll explain. Tesco’s is a big supermarket chain in the UK, I think they owned Fresh and Easy in the USA, and you can sign up for a free clubcard which gives you 1 point for every £1 you spend in their stores. I want to assure you I took advantage of some great deals they put on to gain extra points, and didn’t actually spend £2650 in their stores in the last 18 months)

So I looked on the Tesco’s website and there was a lightweight, yellow (I secretly wanted it to be yellow) rain coat which went past the waist, and yes it was £32 but I decided that the fact Tesco’s clothing range is called Florence and Fred and that the coat was sold out in every size apart from my own as a sign the Universe wanted me to have it.

So yes, I have spent £5.50 on a contraband item, AGAIN, but I feel good that the sum total of my spend on clothes this year has been £5.88 (£9.83 if you include a free item I ‘bought’ but had to pay postage for)

I think my shopping habits this year, whilst being a bit flexible with the rules of a no spend year, are a complete change for the better from the habits that got me into this mess of debt.

I am debating whether I am allowed to buy a orange scented reed room diffuser this Winter like I did last year which made me feel all Christmas-sy and made the Winter a bit more bearable. I know I’m not allowed, but maybe I can find a voucher somewhere for one.

It’s just with every purchase I make I feel anxious. I don’t feel tempted, I don’t feel ‘this feels great, let’s bend the plastic so far my credit card gets a spinal injury’ but I am scared of spending money now.

To be honest I am anxious doing anything financial apart from making money, which means it’s just as well I sold my two guitars today, one to the boy for £15 and one at a cash converters for £10 (it was a piece of crap).

I actually don’t mind selling my things at cash converters because in their buying department they have figurines of the wrestlers Jake the Snake and The Ultimate Warrior which makes me feel happy and like I am with kindred spirits.

I just want to say one more thing. Not including food/household purchases, which are split between the boy and me anyway, but if you take all the money I have paid towards my debts this year, and compare it to how much money I’ve spent on me this year, then I have spent about a third more paying back my debts then I have spending money on things like socialising and yellow-lightweight-past the waist-rain coats.


Fighting the Impulse

Now that I have enforced a spend free year, I have become a lot more conscious of my shopping impulses.

There have been a few scary moments where I have thought ‘I’ll just get one of these/pick up that/go and buy one of those’ and have to fight that thought and remind myself that this year is an experiment I must do.

I’ll admit, they have mostly all been food related.

The other day I was in Sainsbury’s picking up Bread (which was on the list) when I became tempted by some rather good yellow sticker discounted treats.

Such as a whole Coffee and Walnut cake for 79p.

That would have been a terrific saving, but I put it back, because it would only be me that would eat it (my Boyfriend hates coffee. And nuts) and I don’t need the calories, and I also decided that it would be a NON ESSENTIAL PURCHASE.

Which would have seen me fail the challenge before even one month had been completed.

Today I had two more incidences. I didn’t really fancy what I had bought for lunch from home and had to fight the urge to go to the work canteen.

Then after Football training I was walking home through town when I thought casually ‘I’ll get a subway for dinner’ then had to remind myself that all solo food and drink is banned.

It is hard undoing years of giving in to my impulses and also my lack of discipline concerning my spending.

The funny thing is I have been through all this before when I gave up smoking. Even now years after my last smoke I occasionally have moments where I’ll think about smoking and have to tell myself that I am done with that shit.

I have heard it takes a short time to develop a habit (around 3-4 weeks) but can take so much longer to break a bad habit.

I am proud though to see that 12 days into the year my spending totals so far equal what would have been about 2 1/2 days before. I am pleased that I am putting things down, that I haven’t broke the rules, that I am still going.

This weekend will be a challenge as I am going to watch a football match. I have set a budget, and ideally I want to come under it.

I guess I will just have the one Gin and Tonic.