How to not spend money at the shops.
Maternity leave forces every family to pull their belts in another notch or two. For us, this has meant a self-imposed shopping ban.
Don’t misjudge me – I am far from being a shopaholic. I’m too tight for a start and there has never been a time when I’ve had enough spare cash in the bank to be able to splurge without furiously checking price tags and weighing up whether I really need that new top/dress/pair of shoes/adorable but impractical necklace ….
But since Number 2 was born last July, the only shopping I’ve carried out, apart from groceries, has been absolutely necessary (or accompanied by a huge serving of guilt).
So, how do you carry out a Self-imposed Shopping Ban? Well, it’s like this:
Rule 1: Do NOT enter any of your favourite high street clothes shops. This is mainly aimed at adult shops as it has sometimes been necessary to pop into a children’s shop. And when I say that, I mainly mean the children’s aisles of Asda or Tesco.
Now, this rule sounds pretty obvious. You don’t want the temptation of buying any unnecessary items? Don’t put yourself in the position of being tempted.
I am not exaggerating when I say I have no idea what this season’s fashions look like. I have no idea whether Warehouse is full of florals, if TopShop is stocked-full of distressed boyfriend jeans or if Oasis have banished oversized shirts to “oh so 2015.”
I actually can not remember the last time I browsed the rails of a womenswear section of a department store.
This makes me a little sad and out of touch, but seriously, there are few things more disheartening than browsing all the latest beautiful fashions and not allowing yourself to buy a single thing.
Maybe this is just me. Perhaps some (admittedly very disciplined) girls can enjoy the pleasure of window shopping without feeling the downer of leaving empty handed.
This rule does have its problems, and the biggest one is feeling like a total trend-evader when it comes to socialising with real, fashionable friends. The solution, I suppose, might be to study fashion blogs and cobble together outfits from the sad looking contents of my wardrobe, or if all else fails, borrow something from a more on-trend friend. (I’ve got a wedding coming up when this might be a solution).
Rule 2: Do NOT under any circumstances click through to sales.
You know I love a bargain, right? On a daily basis, I have to almost physically restrain my mouse-click finger from taking me into a situation similar to one of a dieter in a chocolate factory. Jeez, every day I get bombarded with emails promising “massive discounts”, “huge reductions”, “30 per cent off everything” and have to immediately delete before the devil in my ear gets its way. Then there’s the obstacle courses that are Facebook and Twitter, TV adverts and billboards, all yelling, “Come on in, the discounts are lovely.”
The exceptions to this rule are if a) there is something we need for the house or children and I’m on the lookout for a deal and b) if I need to buy a birthday present.
Rule 3: Make use of every item in my wardrobe. I’ve blogged about doing this out of necessity when the Only Pair of Jeans gave up the ghost, but I’ve tried to continue the mission simply to make me feel like I have a variety of outfits to choose from. Nothing is more likely to send me rushing to Leeds Trinity, credit card in hand, than feeling like I’m wearing the same thing day in, day out.
Rule 4: Lattes and lunches are out.
Maternity leave, especially in the early days, is all about mum dates, decaff Americano in one hand, Millionaire’s Shortbread on the other, wedging your baby up to your boob with your knee. But it all adds up money-wise, especially if you happen to have a toddler as well and need to feed your coffee habit at a soft play centre and bribe him with Pom Bears.
As much as possible, I’ve made an effort to eat lunch at home before meeting friends, arrange playdates at pals’ houses or opted for picnics in the park (yes we are having al fresco sandwiches in the snow, sweetheart). Long journeys have involved foil-wrapped sandwiches and a Thermos of tea, and days out with the toddler have meant being more organised and taking as much of our own food as we could morally get away with.
But, it would be a pretty miserable life if we couldn’t occasionally indulge in a day trip AND lunch in the cafe, and maybe even an ice cream as well, but I reason that all my scrimping and scraping justifies the occasional treat. And do you know what, it tastes even sweeter when we do indulge (I just have to banish those nagging guilty thoughts.)
Rule 5: Make do and mend (or rather, get your mother to mend)
Thank goodness my mother is a domestic goddess with a roomful of needles and buttons and a willingness to patch up and perfect any of our decaying clothes. It’s mainly the boys’ stuff. They lose buttons on things like I lose matching pairs of socks. Mum’s also amazingly skillful at knitting and dressmaking which has come in rather handy for kitting out my pair of rogues in lovely handcrafted outfits. Cheers mum!
Rule 6: Raid the messy drawer
I don’t know if everyone’s got one, but there’s a whole plastic storage bin of spare cosmetics, samples, hotel miniatures from daysgoneby and random, often regretful, purchases gathering dust in my bathroom.
You know the sort of thing. The latest must-have hair product that was absolutely definitely going to make my locks look like Jennifer Aniston and was banished to the drawer after a couple of uses. The tiny bottles of shampoo you snaffled from the last mini-break because “they always come in so handy”, then never considered them since. The eyeshadow palette some well-meaning relative gave you for Christmas a few years back. The bronzing beads that were totally impractical in any make-up bag as they always spilled out and coated everything with brown dust.
Yep, I hoarded all those things …. and they have finally become useful. Each time I ran out of moisturiser, blusher, eye cream or whatever beauty fix I absolutely couldn’t live with out, I first rifled through the messy bin and nine times out of 10, I’d find something that “would do.”
It means that in the last year, I have only bought one mineral face powder, one concealer, one tube of eye cream and one moisturiser (excluding shampoo/conditioner/shower gel/toothpaste which are necessities).
I think that’s a pretty small amount of cosmetics spending. And the messy drawer has become a lot less messy.
I don’t know when I might allow myself into a proper shop again, or browse the online clothes rails, let alone actually buy something. Who knows what will happen when it finally happens? If you hear of reports of a crazed woman tearing her way through Leeds Trinity or possibly just balled up in a corner rocking through sheer sensory overload, then you’ll know the ban has lifted.
‘Til the next time xxx