Office shopping temptations

I started a new job with an office, coworkers, and a commute. Previously, I worked from home in my pajamas, blissfully ignorant of the many shopping temptations that accompany an office job.

Working outside the home I found…

  • Lots of opportunities to buy food and drinks.
  • More consumer products, fashion, and gadgets. Hmm, that Kindle is smaller than mine and looks cooler. Should I buy new work clothes like those?
  • More opportunities to shop. I can easily shop on my way home or walk to a store during lunch.
  • Thoughts of grabbing dinner on my way home.

And finally, I felt compelled to buy something on my way home Friday. You know, as a reward for a job well done at the office.

In the end, I didn’t change my spending habits this week. But I can see that it’s easy to spend when you’re exposed to so many products and stores.

What do you think? Do you feel more compelled to buy things when you work outside the home?


Go old school. Use a basket

My daughter grabbed a basket at the supermarket.

“Let’s get a cart in case we want to get something big,” I said.

“But this basket holds less. I’m trying to save you money,” she insisted.

And so we shopped with a basket.

We found a few things that weren’t on our list (pretty typical when shopping with a child). However, since we had less space and had to carry everything, many purchases were averted.

The basket forced us to carefully consider our purchases. We stuck to our shopping list like glue.

Which got me thinking… when were shopping carts invented? Shopping carts first rolled into stores in 1937. The concept was delightfully simple: make shopping easy for customers so that they’ll visit often and buy more.

Ah, but of course!

If you want to put the brakes on your spending (and improve your upper body strength), go old school. Use a basket.

What tactics do you use to buy less?

Jessi Arrington: Wearing nothing new

An idea worth spreading: Not buying new clothes was presented as a TED Talk by designer Jessi Arrington. Here’s why Jessi shops at thrift stores and flea markets:

  • To reduce her impact on our environment and her wallet.
  • To meet all kinds of great people.
  • To support a good cause.
  • To dress in a unique way.

Jessi says “shopping at thrift stores is like a personal treasure hunt.”

So true! You never know what you’ll find.

Another great reason to buy used clothes… You don’t have to worry or wonder about how something will ‘wash up,’ because it’s already been through the ringer (or at least a washer). Check out Jessi’s TED talk:

Why do you like treasure hunts?

The lure of new

I took my Prius to the shop last week and got a loaner car, which happened to be a new Prius.

When I picked up my kids in the loaner car, they feel in love with the new car. My kids marveled over all the subtle differences between our car and the new car. In short time they begged me to buy a new car.

What is it about new cars? Is ‘new car smell’ a psychoactive drug, spurring people to buy cars they don’t need? 

The new car was cleaner, smoother, and faster than my car. And for a moment I considered an upgrade. But then I thought about spending $20,000 to replace something that didn’t need replacing. Our car works great.

Even though I didn’t buy a new car, I felt the lure of new. And my kids really felt the lure.

100,000 miles or 10 years used to be a good time to replace a car. However, today cars are living longer – more like 200,000 miles. Luckily, my car is a baby with just 60,000 miles.

The lure of new is strong, but my desire to avoid car payments is stronger.

How about you? Have you felt the lure of new?

Liz Pulliam Weston estimates that owning cars for 10 years instead of 5 could save you $250,000 over your lifetime. Sounds good to me!

Green is expensive, right?

Standing in front of an aisle dedicated to printer paper, I asked my daughter which printer paper we should buy. I read all our options: premium, copy, multi-purpose, laser jet, inkjet.

And she asked, “Is there recycled paper?”

A huge smile appeared on my face (and my heart grew three times larger – oh wait, that’s another story).

We searched for recycled printer paper. It wasn’t front and center, but it was available. Envirocopy™ paper. The price? 5.99 for 500 sheets, or one dollar less than the multi-purpose paper.

Wait a second! I thought I had to pay more for green products? Or do I?

Angela over at My Year Without Spending posed this same question today. “Is it more expensive to be green?

What do you think? Is green expensive?

Or course the greenest choice is no paper (not buying new products), but no paper is a tough sell with school age children. If you’re interested in green frugality, check out these great blogs:

And of course this one. :)

Don’t spoil what you have

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things only hoped for.”

Have you ever thought that desire for what you don’t have can spoil what you do have? If your mind thinks about what you don’t have, can you really appreciate all that you do have?   

Sorry retailers, but the holiday season has me reflecting on wants and needs, and how much is too much.

If your basic needs are met and you have friends and family, what more do you need? A Zhu Zhu pet hamster? An iPhone? New boots? Will these things bring you sustained happiness?

So far the holiday shopping season has been disappointing for retailers. C. Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group, recently said: “shoppers are more frugal and cost-conscious because they have less money to spend.”

Less  money, yes. But maybe, shoppers have also realized that they don’t need to buy so much.

How about you? Have you cut back on holiday gift $hopping because you have less money, or for some other reason?

Me? I’ve been working long hours and have money to spend. In fact I felt the urge to reward myself, but I’m ignoring the urge to splurge. I plan to recharge, have fun, and savor time spent with family and friends.

p.s. The Epicurus quote is courtesy of Gretchen’s excellent Happiness Project blog.

See it, like it, buy it

In the United States we are so very fortunate. Most people can buy whatever they desire. If we go shopping and see something we like, we can buy it.

See it, like it, buy it

However just because we like something, doesn’t mean we need to buy it.

On a recent flight my daughter liked this Skymall item:

Forest Faces-NFL

Forest Faces: Show everyone which team you’re rooting for with this outdoor ornament sensation.

This new outdoor craze is only $19.99, so it’s easily within my reach.

Should I buy one? Let’s see.

Can I live without it?

Yes. My trees have been bare for years and haven’t been yearning for ornamentation (as far as I know).

Would I use it regularly?

No. The ornament serves no real purpose other than promoting a sports team that doesn’t need further promotion. 

Is it going to improve or simplify my life?


Asking yourself these questions can help you prevent clutter and debt. It’s possible to see something, like it and not buy it.

See it, like it, don’t buy it

The result? More money in your bank and less things in your home. Sounds good to me.

Interested in consuming less, decluttering and organization? Check out Monica Ricci’s blog: “Your Life. Organized.”

Focus on doing interesting things rather than buying interesting things (from Zen Habits).