I've been thinking about how I spend my money, where I spend it, and what I spend it on. It's all very well saying you must have a budget, but what someone may see as an essential, others might think it is a frivolous purchase. For instance, I don't think putting loads of slap on my face is going to make me feel any better, wearing a mask is not for me. Others may enjoy decorating their faces. I am not going to enjoy forking out £40 for a meal in a restaurant, but I am going to feel ecstatic tucking into a plate of fresh steamed veg at home, made up from yellow sticker shopping. Others might enjoy going out and not having to cook and wash up. Buying clothes from a conventional shop on the High Street is a very rare occurrence for me. The last time I did it was to buy walking trousers from an outdoor shop, which I couldn't get from a charity shop. It wouldn't bother me if they closed all the fashion wear shops. I do not need to be in fashion, I invent my own style. Others might like to be seen as trendy.
Coffee shops are springing up everywhere, I don't feel the need to pop in one when I am out, the prices are daylight robbery. If I am going to want a drink, I take it with me from home. Putting the heating on at home, that's another expenditure that I scrimp on. I sometimes 'treat' myself to an hour of central heating when it is really cold, but I have to switch it off because I find it unbearably too hot. I go in other people's houses where they have the heating on and I can't stay more than half an hour. My body is acclimatised to fresh air, my windows are open, my back door is often open, and I move about a lot. I have worked outside in all weathers for years, I cannot abide stuffy rooms which send me to sleep.
I've been thinking about how I live, and how I decide what I spend my money on. It all boils down to me being in control of my money, and not letting it control me. I have a set of rules, my own recipe for living within my means. You might have one too, but yours may be different to mine. It's whatever works best for you. If you are not in debt then your way obviously works, you are winning. If you are in debt you might need to revue your rules and make up a new recipe. Something is amiss, money is leaking somewhere.
I'll post up my set of rules, maybe it will help. My pledge to myself to live within my means.
1. Before I buy anything I always think, do I really need it? It might be fun to buy it, it looks nice, it's shiny, but how long is the pleasure of something new going to last? Maybe a day or two, then it will get put in the cupboard with all the other stuff I didn't need.
2. I will not be bullied into spending money, for anything I don't want or need. Every purchase I make will be because I have thought about it, and because I can afford to pay cash for it.
3. I will not shop on the internet. I tried a couple of eeeeebay purchases once a long time ago, but not any more. The internet is awash with stuff I don't need or want. I will not get sucked in.
4. I will not be bullied by junk mail, and leaflets through the door, wherever they come from. I class them as begging letters, they want to steal my money. Even mailshots from charities get ignored. I give what I can to charities, when I want to give it, I do not feel guilty binning their letters.
5. Charity chuggers get the same treatment from me, those that stop you in the street and want you to sign up to a direct debit. I ignore them, I will not be contributing to their wages. As above, I do give to charity, but they are the charities of my choosing, not those who pester me.
6. I ignore all advertising. Inside shops and on shop windows, on the internet, door to door sales, and telesales. We are bombarded by it, there is more and more every day. I don't even waste my time reading it, or listening to it. If I watch a programme on itv player or channel 4od I nip onto another page while the adverts are on. They have set it up so you can't fast forward.
7. I understand the value of my money. It is the money I worked hard for, the money I paid in taxes in 45 years of employment. It didn't come easy, I sweated for it. It would be nice not to need any money at all. There is a romantic notion that you can live without money, people have tried it, but it's not sustainable for a long period of time. At some point you do need some money, and you need to learn what it can and can't buy you.
8. Scams were mentioned in another blog, there are a lot of evil people about. They are looking for victims that they can steal money from. Beware, don't get sucked in. Don't give your bank and credit card details out to anyone who telephones you. They pretend to be your bank, usually with a story that they need to check something. Don't believe them, they lie, they are after robbing your account. Don't fall for the smooth talker if you are visiting dating web sites. No matter how genuine the story sounds. Scammers are expert at sweet talking people into thinking they are in a relationship with them. They prey on the vulnerable and the lonely. Grooming someone for a sting can go on for months, the sob stories are endless, please send me some money for my mother's operation. Don't believe a word of it. Best to keep your money and be lonely, than hand over all your hard earned cash and find yourself destitute and in debt.
9. If you carry money and cards around with you, make sure they are safe in a zipped pocket, or a closed bag with a long strap diagonally across your body and keep hold of it. Do not carry it in a handbag in your hand, or a pocket which will not fasten, or one of those long handled bags which just goes over one shoulder. Bags can be snatched by someone coming up behind you.
10. The only cash machines I use are those which are inside a branch of my own bank. I do not withdraw money from a machine in the street, I don't trust the hole in the wall outside, anywhere. It's very rarely that I run out of cash, I plan how much I am going to need and make sure I withdraw it from my bank. If I am away from home and see a branch I will do a quick calculation in my head of how much I have and if I need to top it up. Sometimes I might make a small purchase from a supermarket, pay with a debit card, and ask for a cash back.
11. I always check my monthly bank statement. I don't do internet banking, I don't trust it. I have one credit card and always check the statement and pay it off every month. I don't know how much credit I can have on my card, I don't need to know, I never go anywhere near it. My card is used for convenience, I use it because I know I have the cash in the bank.
12. The best way of keeping track of your spending is to keep a notebook with you. Write down everything you buy, and how much it cost, even a chocolate bar or a packet of crisps. I did this for a long time, it was an eye opener, you don't realise how much money is leaking from your purse. I don't keep a notebook now because I am so disciplined not to buy anything I can't afford or don't need.
Well there's twelve of my tips to give you food for thought. You may have some to add to the list. Feel free to tell us your tips for looking after your money, and getting the most from it.
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