A fool and his money are soon parted

Posted March 18th, 2008 by Penny Wise

Noel and I are getting very cynical in our old age - it must be the Simple Savings mentality that's causing it, but that's a good thing, I have to stress! Being cynical is certainly saving us a fortune anyway. We have really come to detest people and organisations which try and use their wily ways to get people to part with their money - even watching TV makes us sick lately. Take last night - a commercial came on the telly for Michael Hill Jeweller, advertising a diamond necklace, ring and earring set. 'You WANT it...' the voiceover breathed enticingly. 'You NEED it... you HAVE to HAVE it'... and all at the 'bargain' price of ONLY $1295 each! 'Ooh, what a bargain! Shall we buy two?' Noel and I sneered at the TV. I mean, here we are in a recession for goodness sake. The media is full of it; there are families everywhere struggling to put food on the table and companies like this are still throwing themselves and their products at people. Well forgive us Michael Hill if diamonds aren't exactly top of most people's shopping lists at the moment. Hot on the heels of that nauseating ad came a promo clip for 'What Not To Wear' where Trinny and Susannah were transforming geeky teenage girls into stunning, confident young women. I have nothing at all whatsoever against boosting a young girl's self-esteem - good on them - but what I didn't like was the other message they were portraying - that you've got to spend a lot of money to look good. Sure, it was lovely to see these young girls being pampered but the whole 'transformation' process would have cost a flipping fortune. I couldn't help but wonder what sort of shopping habits Trinny and Susannah were teaching at such an impressionable age.

I'm also waging a personal boycott against what I call 'Stuff Shops'. These are shops which sell nothing but stuff. Beautiful and usually completely useless stuff which nobody needs but looks so lovely it makes people want it. I used to be the Queen of Stuff Shops and I know how dangerous they are, which is why I loathe them so much. I would have wasted literally thousands of dollars in Stuff Shops in my Sad Sally days. I never need to buy another knick-knack for my house and wouldn't want to; it's too cluttered thanks to all the crap I bought as it is. Our tiny town has only one main street and it used to have no less than three Stuff Shops in it; now it has two and I do my utmost to keep the heck out of them. In fact I take an absolute pride in NOT going into one of them; they probably think I'm really horrible for always walking past and waving hello but never actually going in! What on earth's the point though? It's not as if I need anything.

Another thing I have decided I definitely don't need to buy again too is a water bottle. My recent experience of people watching in the city while everyone rushed past with takeaway coffees and bottled water put me off for starters, but after reading an article at the weekend entitled 'Waging war on the mighty water bottle' I'm determined never to buy another of the blasted things again. I also recently cancelled our water cooler hire, which probably sounds very extravagant to even have one in the first place but our drinking water was horrible and full of all sorts of nasties. The water from the cooler was lovely and we drank much more of it which was better for our health but it was costing us over $70 a month in bottled water and machine hire from the company! Can't think for the life of me why we put up with it so long now but they did us a favour in the end, when they neglected to deliver us any water for two months, during the school holidays. The hottest time of the year and when we all needed it most! I had great pleasure in writing to inform them that thanks to their crap service, we realised we didn't need their posh water any more - especially not at a cost of $840 a year. They begged us to reconsider but no way! Instead, Noel went to Bunnings and bought a permanent water filter for $200. Just wish we had done that in the first place!

I'm still finding interesting reading wherever I go too. I really enjoyed an article in That's Life! this week about a Kiwi family who have undertaken a 'No Trash' challenge. They have vowed not to contribute more than ONE BAG of rubbish to landfill for an entire year and have been doing an absolutely brilliant job of recycling. I thought I was a pretty good recycler but these guys are really going the extra mile. I learned all sorts of things can be recycled that I never even knew of! The article really got me motivated and I'm determined to think even harder now before putting anything in the rubbish bin. One new thing I do admit to struggling with at the moment is the launch of a new book. It's most definitely a 'want' of mine but I'm not sure it's a need! It's called 'Change The World For Fifteen Bucks' by an organisation called We Are What We Do. At this stage the book is only available in NZ and costs, funnily enough, $15. It contains heaps of environmentally friendly tips, many of which save money and all result in making the planet a nicer place to live. The thing is, I learn so much about saving money AND saving the planet from Simple Savings, half the time I buy these other things and find there's nothing new in them!

I'm describing my March so far as not exactly No Spend, but certainly super-frugal. I'm really happy with the decisions I've made and the things I've bought and don't feel any of them have been unnecessary. I'm also getting a lot tougher with the kids about buying food and drink when out. We always have a treat after the boys' swimming lessons because they work hard and swim around 25 lengths so I reckon they deserve it but that's all from now on. They're learning that their Mum cannot be swayed! Mind you, there's so little they can eat in the junk food department now between the two of them with all their allergies, there's hardly any point in even looking. Ice creams have been swapped for healthy fruit ice blocks and most other sweet things are off the allowed list now. So it was a bit unfortunate when I won a box of 24 Mars Rocks bars on the radio yesterday! I guess Noel's going to be eating a lot of chocolate!

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