It is at this time of year when my frugal instincts are tested. We are constantly bombarded with Christmas adverts, the latest must-have gadget and there is enough food in the supermarkets to feed everybody for the next year at least. There seems to be more and more choice in terms of what to buy people, all these things that everyone must own, although we seemed to be pretty happy without them.
I feel like everybody is supposed to spend money, like it is just the norm. I feel like everyone is expected to buy over the top gifts, material possessions that are totally unnecessary and overpriced. Is it me, or are there more and more rubbish in the shops to buy, to fill homes where things languish in a corner. Bright, colourful plastic toys that cost the earth, when actually, the child would probably prefer the box it came in. At least then imagination comes into play.
Frugal people are frowned upon at this time of year. We’re not good to the economy; we try as hard as we can to not be swayed by the adverts on the tv. Those 3 minutes clips which have had money poured into them so that they tempt and excite at Christmas time, do not affect us in the same way. We don’t made companies money, in fact, I actively try to avoid giving more money to the big companies as I can. CEOs must hate us – we don’t give in to their rubbish!
Winter is supposed to be a testing time, but the modern day Winter has changed in all aspects. Yes, the weather has (finally) turned colder, though nothing that cannot be coped with. Snow is unusual in the UK, which definitely has its advantages, though I imagine that it would be quite exciting if we ever had snow on Christmas Day. The hard days of the past are long gone; we have running hot and cold water, central heating at the flick of a switch and live in relative luxury compared to a lot of the world.
What tests us now is the sense of entitlement, the continuous greed thrust upon us by advertising companies and the media. Don’t get me wrong, some of the adverts can be thought provoking and makes you consider other options other than the obvious, but the most part, they are testing. I cannot begin to tell you how many adverts we’ve seen the past couple of days to do with children’s toys. And not just a doll, or a jigsaw, but computer consoles, characters from the latest film and a new bike. All of which, whilst nice in their own way, surely are over the top?
Perhaps I am getting old and grumpy, but I get so fed up of the entitlement. I am as guilty of this as anyone! I own a smart phone, and am typing this on a relatively new computer. I have a car that gets me from A to B, and a comfortable home to live in. I appreciate home comforts, and am not worried if we have the heating on for an extra 10 minutes a day when it is simply too cold to sit, even with extra layers on. I like having candles burning to make the room seem more cosy; I can spend ages trying out the different scents until I find my favourite.
In the supermarket last weekend, I was queuing to pay for our food behind another couple. I’d probably put them in their 30s, but I’m not particularly good at guessing ages. Their large trolley was piled high with food. Not just to the top, but piled into a dome so that they could get as much in there as possible. Big multipacks of crisps, chocolate bars and tubs of nuts. Lots of festive foods, including 4 boxes of mince pies (with 6 in each) and a large stollen. Lots of meat, mainly chicken as far as I could see. Chips, frozen pizzas and tubs of ice cream. Now, I understand that this could be for more than just the two of them, but this was not an unusual sight in the supermarket. The majority of people had far too much food in their trolleys. Unless they all have families of 20 to feed every week, then it is too much.
This is not the post I intended to write, yet this comes from the heart. I am struggling right now with our budget. I keep being tempted to just blow it and buy everyone on our list more expensive gifts than perhaps I should. But, I know, deep down, that it would not make me feel better in the end. I know that the path we are taking, the frugal path, living a life that is good and fulfilling, but trying to be more simple along the way, is the right one. I do not need all of this; sometimes I wish we lived in the middle of nowhere, so that I didn’t have to go into town and see all the madness.
Perhaps this is my frugal burn out. But, I intend to ride the rough with the smooth. It is not always going to be easy, but, as 2014 slowly draws to a close, I am looking forward to starting afresh and seeing what the new year brings.