Courtesy of WikiHow. There is some very good advice in this column. I will be using a lot of their tips soon especially since the holidays are almost here and money is a hard thing to come by in Dec. and Jan. 🙂  In the article WikiHow mentions freecycle.  My wife and I belong to several of these groups and they are great!  The easiest way to find them is via Yahoo Groups, just search for freecycle and your state……

How to Buy Nothing

 

Were self-checkouts invented so nobody has to see the useless junk you buy?

 

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Were self-checkouts invented so nobody has to see the useless junk you buy?

In O. Henry’s classic Christmas story The Gift of the Magi, Della Young sells her most prized possession, her long, beautiful hair, in order to buy her husband, Jim, a Christmas present. The present she chooses is a chain for Jim’s heirloom pocket watch, the only valuable thing he owns. When she presents her gift to Jim, she discovers that he has sold his watch in order to buy a set of ornate combs for her beautiful locks.Is there a lesson in here for us? The lesson is you don’t have to buy anything to be happy. Here’s how to resist the urge to splurge.

Steps

  1. Examine your beliefs. Corporations invest billions of dollars yearly to persuade people to accept the religion of Consumerism. It’s a religion that goes against the teaching of just about every other religion, belief system, or moral code. Think about what you really believe, and see if your buying decisions are motivated by your own values or by diet soda ads.
  2. Stay home. If you don’t need to shop, don’t go shopping simply because you are bored. Don’t use shopping as a recreation or amusement.
  3. Leave the money at home. The easiest way to not buy anything is simply not to take any cash, checks, debit cards, or credit cards with you when you go out. At most, take a small amount of cash with you for emergencies.
  4. Avoid plastic. One solution is to live without credit cards. If you’re not comfortable with that — for example, if you want to be able to rent a car or reserve a motel room when traveling — cut up all but one or two of your credit cards. Leave them at home so you won’t use them unless it’s an emergency.
  5. Pay cash. Studies show the average person spends less when paying with cash and much more when paying with credit, possibly because when you use a credit card it feels as though you are not parting with “real” money.
  6. Make a budget and stick to it. Don’t treat your budget like a New Year’s resolution. While creating and sticking to a budget requires self-control, it’s a really good way to get your finances under control and avoid accumulating a pile of crippling debts and a bunch of worthless crap in the process of destroying your self-respect.
  7. Make a list and stick to it. Make purchasing decisions at home, where your needs are apparent, instead of in stores where shelves full of other products will distract and entice you. A list can also help you postpone and consider purchases and consolidate trips out.
  8. Ask yourself some questions. Will I use this every day? Will I use it enough for it to be worth buying? How many hours did I have to work to pay for this? Employ the 3-month forecast. Ask yourself if you’ll still be using the product regularly in 3 months. If you have lived this long without it, do you really need it? If you move frequently, contemplate whether this purchase is really worth hauling around each time you move. If you don’t, ask yourself if it’s worth sacrificing some of your precious living space to own it.
  9. Repair, don’t replace. If you shopped carefully and got good service out of something, don’t assume you have to replace it when it breaks. A good repair shop might be able to restore it to “near-new” condition for less than the cost of a replacement, and you won’t be adding to the landfill problem.
  10. Try to get things you need or want for free. In a surprising number of cases you can get whatever you need without spending a dime.
    • Check local “free sales”. Visit websites such as freecycle, Freesharing,Sharing is Givingor craigslist. These sites are so useful precisely because so many people buy things they don’t need or replace perfectly good things with similar but newer things. You can decide to be smarter than that.
    • Borrow. If you need a product for just a short time, why not borrow someone else’s? There’s no shame in borrowing as long as you are willing to reciprocate when someone needs to borrow something of yours.
    • Try bartering. Your past extravagances have probably left you with a lot of things you no longer need, but which other people may want. Experience some of the gains from trade that economists are always talking about.
  11.  

    Oh, my! This would look nice in the bathroom.

     

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    Oh, my! This would look nice in the bathroom.

    Avoid shopping malls, if possible. If you need to purchase something, go to a store that sells that thing. Don’t automatically head for the mall, where you’ll likely get lured into buying things you don’t need. If you go to the mall just to hang out with your friends, consider finding new hobbies, or new friends. If you have to walk through a shopping mall to get to a restaurant or a movie theater, keep yourself engrossed in conversation (either with yourself or your companions) so that you don’t focus on your surroundings. Concentrate on where you are going, but pay no attention to the stores along the way.

  12. Use the buddy system. If you go out with friends, you may find that you enjoy yourselves so much that you don’t even feel like buying anything. You could all make a pact to prevent purchases. It’s kind of like a 12-step program to escape the consumer culture.
  13. Avoid unnecessary upgrades. Yes, that new toaster has a little chime and can toast eight slices at once, but seriously, how often do you need eight slices of toast at once? Our consumer culture pressures people to replace perfectly good products with newer products for silly reasons, like fashion. Remember, an avocado-colored oven works just as well as one that’s mango-colored.
  14. Buy for durability. If you decide to purchase something, choose something that won’t wear out, or won’t wear out quickly. Also avoid purchasing items that will go out of fashion. Think through how you will use the item and how your choice will meet your needs for as long as possible. Thinking in the long term, a more durable item costing 30% more up front will still save you money if you can use it twice as long.
  15. Use the “Rule of 7.” If something you want is over 7 dollars, wait 7 days and ask 7 trusted people whether this is a good purchase. Then buy it if you still think it is a good idea. This rule will curtail impulse buying. As you get more financially secure and have a larger disposable income, you can gradually increase the threshold upward from 7 dollars.
  16. Make gifts for people. Use your own skills (or learn a new skill) to make gifts that people will remember long after they’ve forgotten store-bought presents. Don’t forget that gifts needn’t be wrapped. You can make a gift of time or skills, too. Remember the lesson of The Gift of the Magi: it really is the thought that counts. Money can’t buy you happiness or self-respect or any friends worth having.
  17. Tax yourself. Every time you make a purchase over $10 (or $50 or whatever limit you choose), take 10% of the price and put it into your savings or your investments. This way, you discourage yourself from buying something just because the item is “marked down” or “a bargain” and boost your financial security every time you make a significant purchase. If you use a debit card or a credit card, try using one that has a savings program, American Express offers a card with a savings account and Bank of America offers their “Keep The Change” program to automatically transfer money into your savings account.

Tips

  • Read books such as Why We Buy, so you understand retailer tactics that are used to get people to buy things they do not need. Get the books at the library; no need to buy them!
  • If you have children, bring them with you when you shop. Ask them to remind you to think twice when you pick up an item. Have them say “Do we really need that?” or “Can we really afford that?” This tip helps you AND teaches your children the value of properly managing their spending.
  • Can’t think of anyplace to hang out but the mall? Try visiting a friend, taking a walk on a nature trail, going to a free concert or event, or playing at the park. Your life will be richer in more ways than one if you eschew shopping malls.
  • Instead of renting movies, check your local library. Many libraries offer a wide selection of movies for free. While you’re there, check out their other offerings, too.
  • If you’re really weak-willed, freeze your credit cards in a coffee can full of water so you will have to thaw them out before you use them.
  • “Buy Nothing Day” is November 24, 2006, in North America and November 25th elsewhere. Participate by not joining in the mad and often mindless holiday shopping rush on that day.

Warnings

  • If you use the Rule of 7, keep in mind that not everyone will enjoy giving their opinion every time you want to make a purchase. A variation is “wait 7 days OR ask 7 trusted people” which will still help you make more thoughtful expenditures.
  • At first you might feel strange telling your friends that you’d rather not buy something you don’t need or that you’d rather not hang out at the mall this weekend. Remember to give yourself time for your new choices to become comfortable.
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