I’m quite a frugal shopper. I always have been since I was young.
I watched my mother clip coupons and shop for discounts throughout my childhood and her habits have become ingrained in my shopping personality.
I’ve been in different positions of financial standing throughout my life but no matter how much or little money I have I can’t help hunting for a bargain.
What often takes some people mere minutes to decide to buy may take me days or weeks.
I love to research a product and shop around for the best price.
I compare details, read reviews and try to find cheaper and more affordable alternatives.
It must be something in the blood?
I have a friend who used to amaze me.
We used to work together and often in her lunch break she would wander around the local stores and mall.
I’d often see her return with shopping bags and was often astounded to note that they often came from distinct luxury brands.
I’m talking about the kinds of brands where even a keyring costs no less than $100.
I knew her well enough to know she wasn’t sitting on piles of cash at home. She was on a modest wage and often complained about having trouble keeping on top of the bills.
One day after she showed me her latest purchase I asked her what compelled her to buy such an expensive luxury item when money was so tight? Her answer was simply “I just wanted it”.
It blew me away.
I’ve always known that people all have a “shopping personality”; an approach to shopping, managing and spending money but I realised later that it is as individual as the person themselves.
I have a relative who is very much afflicted by the “keeping up with the Joneses” persona.
His tendency to spend all of his disposable income along with several lines of credit in order to keep up appearances makes a frugal spender like myself incredibly nervous.
I couldn’t tell you when this type of behaviour first developed but I do recall a fishing trip I took with his family when I was teenager in which we were accompanied by some family friends and their children.
An argument arose between the son of my relative and the son of a friend which was centred around the brand of bicycle each boy had which was better, fancier etc.
The argument rose to a pitch so that the adults decided to intervene and the remark that ended it all came from the son of the friend who said “My bike’s better because it’s more expensive than yours. You can’t afford a bike like mine!”.
He never said so but I suspect that closing remark affected my relative deeply.
It would only be natural after all. We all want what’s best for our kids.
This declaration of my relative’s apparent inability to offer his family expensive things, while only uttered by a child, was so public and so humiliating I myself have remembered it nearly 2 decades later. (He doesn’t read this blog so I’m in no danger of reminding him).
My relative was always able to afford better experiences than my immediate family so to me he was doing rather well.
Over the following years however I would hear stories from other family members about his extravagant spending, his increasing debt and I would marvel at his social media posts depicting his rather excessive lifestyle.
I have often asked my mother where he found the money for all the expensive overseas trips and luxury brand shopping sprees and she would simply say “credit cards, personal loans and credit charges to his business”.
She also remarked that it made her sad because his children would learn to adopt his spending habits and find themselves in a great deal of financial strife later on in life.
I myself know the feeling of being deeply in debt and barely making ends meet.
My first ever credit card was a disaster.
I remember struggling to breathe from the panic of having overdue credit card bills and collections agents calling in with their incessant reminders.
I recall living on 2 minute noodles and sandwiches for months to try and make headway on the payments only to have a crushing interest charge claw me back into debt.
I don’t know how my relative does it.
It’s not that I’m judging. We all have our own individual ways of approaching money and spending.
Being frugal doesn’t always pay off either.
I’ve often pinched pennies and settled for cheaper items only to be disappointed with what I got.
As the saying goes, ‘you get what you pay for’ and I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes you have to be willing to spend more to achieve the result that you want.
In the bid to save money I decided I would DIY our bathroom wall repair which would have cost us around $240 to have repaired by a tradesman.
Doing this repair myself was found to be a false economy because after buying the tools and materials I had spent close to $300 and 6 months later the job isn’t completely finished.
Clearly the faster and more economical option would have been to part with my $240 in the beginning.
I suppose the aim is to achieve a good balance between being frugal and spendthrift.
It’s easier said than done and for so many it’s a constant struggle to stay on track.
The battle between what the head and the heart wants is a never ending fight.
What is your shopping personality?
Are you a frugal penny pincher or do you like to live large and spend big?
If you’re interested in doing a fun quiz, head over to this post on my other site at www.ladyvshoppingspree.com to do my What’s Your Shopping Style quiz.
- Lady V