stop

The Singers are 15 next week.  We will be flying to Turkey on their birthday and they are none too pleased.  Not least when they discovered that the Boss has paid extra for two seats with extra leg room because he is fed up of sitting on planes with his knees roughly the same height as his chest.  They (perhaps understandably) thought that as they were flying on their birthday they should have extra leg room.  The fact that they are built like butterflies doesn’t apparently count.

I digress.  We are going on holiday and the Singers are having a birthday.  Consequently we have to go clothes shopping for apparently the rooms that make backstage at London Fashion Week look like a minimalist’s dream, do not contain “a single item of summer clothing.”  I did point out that as they have not been wandering around naked during the current heat wave there must be a few usable pieces.  I was met with the standard teenage sad face. Not the sad I am unhappy face, the sad you are a sad person who really doesn’t understand and clearly was never a teenager and has no idea what being a teenager is like and so on…..

Actually I quite enjoyed it because I didn’t have anything to buy, I just followed them around and marvelled at how they could look drop dead gorgeous in a bin bag.  Shopping for a size 6 willow is a breeze.  It’s going to look fantastic on you whatever it is.

Much planning and mental arithmetic was required.  When you are 14 (okay almost 15) you have limited funds and no access to a credit card (well not in this house anyway).  You cannot buy whatever you want and just “put it on the card”.  You are paying with cash that has been earned or given as a gift.  There were complicated deals that would frazzle the brain of the most devious hedge fund manager juggling swaps and futures.  If one had an advance on their birthday money from Grandad and the other owed me for the ebay shop and the first hadn’t made any ebay purchases but was owed £10 by Dad for the garden work did that cancel the £40 owed to me by the Dancer?  I don’t know either.

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The point is they knew the value of the purchases and they knew precisely how much they could spend (and still have enough to purchase each other a birthday present).  If you pay with cash you are much more thoughtful about how you spend it.  If you pay with plastic you are not.  Granted, turning up at the travel agents to pay in cash for five return flights to LA would probably cause a minor disturbance.  There is a place for plastic.  But too many of us don’t know what that place is.

One of the reasons we have so much clutter in our lives is because we buy things on a whim, with little thought.  We get home and they may be used once or twice but we didn’t really want or need them so they go to the back of the cupboard.  They stay there either because we have forgotten they are there or because of an undercurrent of guilt that since we paid for them we should keep them.

Refusing to let them into the house in the first place is so much easier and a heck of a lot cheaper.  Shop with cash.  If you must keep your plastic in your purse for an emergency hide it.  I keep a £50 note in my purse for emergencies.  It is too big to spend without some thought and in fact I would probably have to go to a bank and get it changed into smaller notes.  It has been there unspent for over three years.  I have never actually needed it.  You don’t need to take the plastic out with you.  Leave it at home.

14 thoughts on “stop

  1. What a concept. It is much harder to let go of actual money than to use plastic. Even a debit card is easier to use. I hadn’t thought of carrying a $50 for emergencies, though. Thanks for the tip. Happy UBC.

  2. Over from UBC – it’s so true, I find impulse purchases one of the major causes why so many don’t have extra. A friend and I were talking about this the other day, we are trying to get out of credit card debt and some weeks of not using are better than others.

    • Long held habits are hard to break. For me the tipping point was seeing how much stuff we had that we didn’t need or want and how much time, money and energy we had spent on it.

  3. It is so easy to spend when you have plastic on you. I’ve managed to almost eliminate impulse spending by going ‘away’ for twenty minutes instead of just buying. I leave the shop, have a coffee, walk up the street – whatever works. If after that twenty minutes, I still want the item, I have it. Usually, I’ve managed to talk myself out of it by then or the desire for it has gone.

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