In Budgeting, Discussions, Money

How I managed to cut out a lot of frivolity in my shopping

I got this question from my Ask Sherry Anything Anonymously Inbox, but it turned into such a long piece, I decided to make it a post on its own.

How do you manage to spend so little money on frivolous purchases? I have just started trying to do this and it is the hardest thing ever!

Err.. frivolous meaning.. what exactly? 🙂 I find a lot of what I buy quite frivolous, so this question sort of surprised me that you think I am not spendy! I AM TOTALLY SPENDY. Spendy with a capital S.

This is a great question however, so I suppose it depends first on what I would consider frivolous.

I can break it down a little here:

Dollar Store Frivolity

I avoid dollar stores in general, on principle. I don’t like the way they smell inside (very strong chemical, plastic smells), and I don’t believe in one-use items, even decorations that we buy for only $5 but then use once and toss in the garbage.

It makes me sad. It really does, and guilty.

I am not perfect in this regard by any means, I still use cotton swabs (no plastic sticks, just the paper ones so they can break down), that ARE one-use, and other such items, but I am definitely becoming as of late, far more conscious about my plastic use, my one-time usages of items, and in general, how wasteful I am with just daily, everyday, First World stuff.

This is very difficult to overcome in terms of convenience, but I am slowly working on asking myself the question each time I touch something I want to buy – How much use will I really get out of it?

I also just in general, avoid stores that sell junk, like dollar stores.


General Food / Treats

I try not to overindulge any more in a croissant in the mornings, and random chai lattes whenever I felt bored and wanted a sugary treat.

This is motivated less by money these days, and more because I want to cut back on sugar, and fatty things in general.

I have noticed in the past 2 years, as I have been in the office working, that my weight has slowly crept up by about 10 pounds. I used to be a size 25 in jeans, and now I am in a 27.

THERE NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT, but that is how I am noticing my weight is going up, and I don’t feel as energetic as before, nor am I keen on replacing my beautiful wardrobe with bigger sizes. I LOVE my wardrobe and worked hard with obtaining money to buy it, and on finding great deals.

I am still slim and I look fine, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like my clothes now pinch in weird areas, around my waist, my arms, and I am not loving that my beautiful items don’t fit like they used to, and it makes me very sad to not be able to wear them and feel comfortable any longer.

SO, before I buy a whipped cream hot chocolate and eat 3 mini tarts, I remind myself of how much sugar that is, how bad it is for my body (and anti-aging, as sugar reduces collagen in your body which is what keeps your skin elastic and youthful), and remind myself how I need to stop “treating” myself constantly and save it for special occasions.

Knickknacks/Decorations

I simply don’t have the space for it. I may love bowls, beautiful pillows, cups, and all sorts of beautiful items, but I simply don’t have the wall space or the place.

Why buy it? I can’t display it. Nothing to display it on, and it also then collects dust which annoys me.

Clothes

THIS. THIS is the one I find hard to put down.

Shopping frivolity for CLOTHES, especially great deals on eBay, thrifting, or Poshmark Canada (use code SHERRYISH for $10 CAD credit to shop), is really difficult to break.

I consider 99% of what I buy to be frivolous.

Did I need a new pair of sunglasses? No.

Did I need yet another pair of shoes, or a top, or a blazer? No.

Did I buy them anyway? Yes. Ergo, these items are frivolous.

I haven’t yet been able to totally ban myself, or kick this habit and the only way I keep myself in check is if I balance it in a way that I feel less guilty about it.

This means, I sell items in my wardrobe to bring in some income that will help offset this shopping.

I also buy secondhand, thrifted, or HEAVILY discounted items off the sales rack, because I am starting to be unable to stomach the price of $200 for a pair of shoes at retail.

The only items I really buy at retail are pieces I am 90% convinced I will not be able to find used, ever, in my size. It may come up, but it is rare, but as I love the pieces so much, I don’t want to chance it.


Case in point: This entire MM Lafleur outfit, from the ink blotted green top to the navy blue wrap skirt.

I’d rather buy secondhand, with slight smudges, clean them, and wear them for a fraction of that price.

Even sunglasses, I bought a pair recently that were a very good deal at $150 by Prada, normally retailing for $600, but I am keeping the tags on until I am certain it IS a good deal and I cannot find something cheaper, secondhand and used.

So, if you say “frivolous” to me, I feel like style and clothes would be the biggest part of frivolous shopping in my budget.

I keep myself on track by looking at everything I spend (I use TheBudgetingTool.com) to track my spending, and have used it for over a decade now, so I have great stats, and when I see my clothing budget creep up in a month, I immediately start returning stuff that I think is not worth keeping at that price, so to speak.

And that’s how I keep myself on track.

Thinking about the result of the cake in my body, the money, and the crap I do not want to use or keep.


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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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