I’ve got the most appalling habit, I recently discovered. I’m a shopaholic you see, but it’s not just that. I mean, I’m not a “classic shopaholic”, always buying new and exciting things, oh no. My shopping habit is much more insidious, disguised as measured, pre-considered and sensible, I’ve convinced myself I’m “upgrading” what I already own, so it’s not a waste of money, it’s an investment.
You know the sort of thing… the knives in the kitchen are nice but they’re not chef quality, so I’m upgrading to a better set. I already have a set of sheets but they’re not 1000 thread count, so clearly I need to upgrade them too.
Well let me tell you now, any money you spend that you can’t really afford to is wasted because you end up spending more on all those late fees and interest on all the other things you were supposed to pay but didn’t.
But if one can upgrade into debt, one can downgrade to thrift. I’ve been talking to a lot of people lately and here’s what we’ve agreed we can downgrade to save money.
These have got to be some of the most over-hyped and over-priced bottles of scented water ever invented (except perhaps for the Britney Spears line of perfumes). A drop of dishwashing liquid in a litre of hot water will give you much the same effect as a bottle of branded “surface cleaner” and for about $4 less.
As founder of the Body Shop, Anita Roddick, famously declared, “’Moisturisers do work, but the rest is complete pap.” If a woman who made her millions selling the stuff is willing to make that statement, you have to believe it’s true! Stop wasting your fortunes on eye creams with extract of endangered sea cucumbers and buy yourself a cheapie from the local chemist. It’s pretty much the same stuff, except you’re not driving some poor sea beast into extinction.
I confess, I do love my gym membership. But if money is tight, this is a luxury that you can definitely downgrade! For the cost of 2 month’s membership, you can buy yourself a cardio and a yoga DVD to do at home and take up jogging. If you have a smart phone, there are plenty of free apps to help you get into running, just search for C25K for variations on the “Couch to 5km” project or get a bunch of friends together for a weekly “walkie-talkie”.
While there are certain things I would never advocate downgrading (eg. free range eggs, recycled paper products) you can get away with buying cheaper versions of a lot of stuff. I remember my mother always snapping up the home brand canned asparagus, saying it was hard to find because believe it or not, it was actually the best. Batteries, tinned vegetables, laundry powder and dried fruit are just a few items which are almost identical to their branded cousins. Start experimenting next time you do a shop; you might just find a new favourite and it’ll taste even sweeter with the knowledge that buying it saved you money.