When was the last time you saved up for something? Not a huge purchase, like a wedding, house or holiday, but something you've fallen in love with through a shop window and saved for months until you could afford it?
If you can't remember, you're not alone because the truth is, we just don't seem to save up for the smaller items anymore. And we're throwing a huge amount of money away as a result.
I'm ashamed to say it's been some time for me too. In fact I think it was a beautiful red coat from Oasis that I saved my 16-year-old waitress wages for and proudly went out to purchase one Saturday afternoon. I loved that coat so much and still have it today. Although it's more than a tad on the snug side now, I like how that over 10 years later, it has stood the test of time.
While not needing to save long and hard for something suggests we're all savvy modern women who are financially on track, I think it's got more to do with our need for instant gratification.
In fact, recent figures from the Institute of Financial Planning suggest we're far from on track, with just under half of respondents in a study (47%) admitting they struggle to make their money stretch to pay day. Yet we continue to spend through our 'buy now, pay later' culture, and half of women in a survey by comparison site, uSwitch.com, said they use a combination of credit cards, store cards, overdrafts or loans to fund their shopping sprees.
My mum loves to tell me how she had to save up for things in 'her day' and that if she couldn't afford something, she went without. While the easy access to credit has certainly increased our affordability and cash flow, it has also increased our appetite and impatience.
We see it, we want it, and more often than not it seems, we buy it. The availability of credit definitely contributes to this, but I think this urge to splurge rather than save is further fuelled by rapid turnover in the shops and our fear of missing out. In this age of fast fashion and constantly changing trends, often if you don't buy something when you see it, it'll be gone when you a return later.
But maybe that's not such a bad thing. I wonder how many things in our wardrobes and homes would still have a place if we'd had to wait to save up for them. Saving definitely makes you consider whether you truly want something and gives time to change your mind. If we did it more often we wouldn't be riddled with stuff we've quickly become bored with or clothes we've barely worn.
In a recent interview, Dame Vivienne Westwood said we should "spend less, choose well," and I couldn't agree more. In additional to lessening the pressure on our bank balances, cutting consumerism has a huge environmental impact too.
As a result, my quest for the New Year is to take time to stop and think before spending. I love an impulse bargain purchase as much as the next girl, but I think we could all do ourselves a favour by saving more. Yes, I know most of us need to do this anyway so we're not bound for the destitute retirement we keep being told about, but I'm talking more short-term. Like in the January sales.
By: Hannah Ricci
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