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Friday, 8 September 2017

Stop buying shit

Shit, slang something inferior or worthless.

This is where the frugality movement and the minimalism movement come together and truly shine. Because you can be a minimalist with only a few things, but they can be crappy things you have to replace every two weeks. Or you can be frugal and buy something on super special, but maybe you didn't really need it.

Stop buying shit that you only use once

Think of all the things you buy just to throw them away again. Garbage bags are one of the five things you'll never find in a finance bloggers budget because you are literally paying money for garbage.

However there are less extreme examples like paper plates, straws, bamboo skewers, paper towels, tampons and disposable coffee cups that can be replaced by reusable items like real plates (or wipe down plastic ones) metal straws, metal skewers, kitchen rags, menstrual cups and keep cups.

Not only will you be literally saving the world with less waste, you'll be saving your hip pocket as well.

Stop buying shit that falls apart

In the first six months after moving out together Mr. FIRE and I bought and broke three different cheese graters. Two of them broke while we were using them, the third somehow got rusty while it was in the cupboard. We then bought a cheap knock off multi-purpose kitchen dicer that came with a grater, julienne slicer, mandolin slicer, etc. etc. That broke the first time I used it as well.

So finally we caved in and spent $30 on a decent grater like this one. We bought it from a proper kitchen supply store, instead of trying to find one at a two-dollar store and it's been going strong for three years.

If I'd bought the expensive version first, I would have spent $30. Instead I wasted $50 on cheap crap before finally dropping another $30 on a decent one. 

Don't trick yourself into thinking you are saving money buying cheap shit that falls apart. Buy quality once and enjoy it for years to come.

Stop buying shit you don't need

How many coffee cups do you have in the cupboard? I can tell you Mr. FIRE and I have 6 small espresso glasses, 6 latte glasses, 4 tea cups and 4 large cappuccino cups (yeah, we like coffee). While this sounds like a lot, it works out to doing dishes two or three times a week if we want another coffee.

However, when I lived at home with my parents with had a shelf over a metre wide, and three mugs deep that was full. At a guess I'd say we had at least 40 mugs, all the same size and shape for 3 people. We used the same three mugs every day. Yet for some ridiculous reason we would buy mugs as souvenirs, as Christmas presents, as birthday gifts... I'd say we had over $500 worth of mugs we never used. We didn't need any more mugs, yet we kept buying them.

We also had a garden shed full of tools with multiples of the same type. We owned a bamboo sushi rolling mat even though we never made Nori Rolls. We had a label maker but nothing labelled. If I wanted anything, I always dug through the cupboard We had a fondue kit, a slow cooker, two different blenders... we had everything.

The thing is, we didn't need all these things. Most of them we rarely used. So many things were bought and used once or twice then never again. We bought them because it's easier to make Nori Rolls with a bamboo mat than by hand. It's easier to have a big blender instead of working in batches. It's easier to buy another trowel instead of finding one you already have.

Laziness cost us a lot of money. 

Stop buying shit you don't want

Here's a big one that costs people. How many times have you been early to a job interview, been waiting for a plane, or just had a few moments free and suddenly smelt something delicious in the distance. There are cafes on every street corner, and the biggest lure is boredom and habit.

In these moments somehow coffee and a snack mysteriously materialises in our hands, and money disappears from our wallets. Once I walked out with a coffee I didn't want and a really disappointing croissant because... I don't know? I was bored. I needed to kill some time.

I can't believe anyone wants
or needs this many cushions...
I had literally bought something I didn't want!

And it's not just quick and easy snacks either. I have found myself in clothes stores with the rest of the team while on derby trips hunting for something to buy before I realised that I didn't want anything new, and I couldn't fit it in my suitcase anyway.

Every time I go through Bunnings I end up looking for things to buy. I start with the things I came for, and if I can't find them I somehow still end up looking for something to buy.

I'm not a shopper and I somehow get lured in to buying things. If my friends are shopping, I feel compelled to shop. If I'm near a cafe, I feel compelled to snack. If I enter a shop I feel awkward leaving without buying anything. Until I got over this I used to spend money on stupid shit that I didn't even want!

Start buying your life back

So if you aren't buying shit, what are you buying? If you stop buying shit you'll find your pockets lined with all this spare money. Spend some of it on buying quality things that will last for years (we own $180 frying pan - thankfully it was 60% off) and then spend the rest of this spare money on buying free time

Every dollar you aren't spending on shit, you can spend on more dollars with this fancy trick called 'investing'. If you've just got a few dollars, start with Acorns. A couple of hundred, consider peer-to-peer lending with RateSetter. Over $5,000 you can break into the share market with Vanguard.

Buying shit for $20 will give you a few moments happiness, or maybe just buyers remorse. Every $20 you invest will give you back $1 a year for the rest of your life.

Do you want more shit? Or do you want to start buying your way free of the 9-5? Your choice.


  1. Yes! I've realized I love buying stuff- particular stocks and shares. They don't clutter up the house and I don't have to replace them. Very rarely do I get excited about buying something physical any more - but man do I get excited when I give Vanguard some of my money!

    1. Hehe, I know right! I have so many stocks and shares, and yet the shelves of my house are blissfully empty :) Any excuse to invest is a good one

  2. Lucky for me I get so overwhelmed with buying clothes and shoes that I usually leave with nothing. But kitchen utensils on the other hand....I really do have a lot! Most have been gifts over the years, though I have spent more than I needed to in the past.
    Always good to have a reminder that every $20 invested will pay you back $1 for the rest of your life to stop you in your tracks.

    1. Kitchen utensils are a trap! A silicon baking mould is only $6... I need more right?

      I remind myself every day, it might ONLY be $20 today, but it could also be $1 forever - excellent point :)

  3. This is definitely my mantra. Like Miss Balance, I find it easy to leave without clothes and shoes, because it's all too hard. I have been through our kitchen cupboards, drawers and pantry 3 times now, cutting back. I have one more pass to make by the end of the year, and I reckon I'll be good to go. Of course, then there's the rest of the house...
    My problem is that I've found this thinking has extended towards gifts for others. I don't want to buy them more shit, but then I really struggle to identify what is suitable. Most experiences I think of are too expensive, and I'm not crafty or a good enough cook to create for gifts.
    Oh, and the buying shit you don't really want? Definitely been there.

    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one that's bought shit they didn't want - and you find yourself standing awkwardly outside the store like "D'you think I could just give this back..?"

      I struggle heaps with gifting. Mr FIRE and I agreed not to gift, which is GREAT but I worry that our birthdays / Christmases don't get the hurrah they deserve

  4. After moving house a few times in the past 6 years, I realised how much crap I have. I now ask family who want to buy gifts to purchase consumables, ie coffee beans, etc - or to arrange a family lunch or brunch at a cafe.


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