We are all living in a disposable culture, and it’s hurting our bank account. T-shirts and jeans are now so cheap that we could probably just trash our dirty laundry every day, buy replacements, and barely damage our savings at all.
But think about that: we’ve created a consumer culture that relies on underpaying employees in other cultures. Things are so cheaply made that we don’t think twice about tossing them out and buying more. Spend, spend, spend.
If we could get out of that disposable mindset and buy goods with real value that would last, it’d save us a lot of money in the long run..
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Freedom Clothing Collective in Toronto is a grassroots, non-profit devoted to selling the clothing and art manufactured here in Canada. It’s an excellent snapshot of how messed up our economy is. A single, minimalist, unembellished dress there is sixty bucks or more. And I’m not talking about a sixty dollar dress here, but the kind of simply sewn dress a girl can find at H&M for twelve bucks. That’s because of the cost of living and overhead is so high in Canada, that a piece of clothing made here is so much more expensive. And we balk at that. Except that having the same dress for twelve bucks means paying a worker in Taiwan next to nothing.
And so, in order to change the world for the better, do we all have to go destitute paying out big bucks to clothe our backs? Not exactly. Before we arrived at our Disposable Culture, we bought expensive clothes, and we took care of them. We wore them often. And clothes that cost a hundred bucks last a heck of a lot longer than clothes that cost twelve bucks.
When I was just out of university, I was barely, just barely, making rent every month. Accordingly, I tended to buy cheap $14 knockoff sneakers.
Those things wear out in, no joke, two months at the most. So that expense, for a year, including taxes, set me back $94.98. Not too shabby, right? Except a $100 pair of shoes, if taken care of, can last you two to three years if you take care of them. More, if they’re well made. I have a pair of New Balances that are about twelve years old, and they’re still in pretty good condition.
Spending money frequently on cheap wares is a constant hit on our bank balance, and it’s an expense we can get rid of.
STOCK UP ON SALES ITEMS
Groceries are one of our constant expenses, and a good place to start saving. To quote Kimberley Clancy, of Frugalshopper, “Saving $50 a week on your grocery bill will save you $2600 in one year!” It’s true. Even saving $13 a week on groceries will save you $676 in a year.
Clancey suggests getting educated on what grocery stores have on sale, and avoid going to pricier stores (it’s actually kind of outrageous how much more expensive Sobeys is compared to, say, No Frills). Look for sales, and if you have the time, combine coupons with sales to save more.
Stock up. Cracked.com’s great John Cheese once wrote an excellent article called, “The Stupidest Habits You Develop Growing Up Poor”, and one observation he had that was bang-on correct was that, when we’re young, we’re often not taught to stock up on cheap items.
When I was a destitute student, living paycheque to paycheque, I didn’t think ahead, and I bought things one at a time. When laundry detergent went on sale, I didn’t stock up. I bought just the one I needed, and when I needed more, I just ate the higher price. That’s bad for your savings.
If toilet paper is on sale, grab a bunch of it. Detergent’s on sale? Stock up. You save time and energy and money. This is something our grandparents did all the time, and it’s a damn good habit to get into.
Cooking at home is one of those no-brainers too. Like many of you, I’m addicted to the restaurant experience. It’s a hit to the wallet, though, and you can really save if you cut back on it.
BUY THINGS THAT LAST
A vice I used to have was buying computers. Like, I just wanted to buy all the computers, especially cheap ones. I wanted to buy cheap laptops just to see what they could do, since every new piece of garbage laptop came out with new hardware, new possibilities.
Here’s the thing, though: cheap computers, if not maintained, clunk out every three years with unerring accuracy (or if they don’t, they limp on in a zombie state, struggling to even open websites)
Any tech person worth their salt will tell you it saves you a lot in the long run to just put some money into a single machine with room for parts, so you can continue to maintain and update it well into the future.
That kind of philosophy should extend to everything. Buy good, solid equipment, and make sure it lasts.
- For cleaning spills and messes, reach for a cloth instead of buying rolls and rolls of paper towels.
- Make a pot of coffee at home and take a thermos to work, instead of buying it ala carte.
- Make a big pot of food at home and freeze containers of it for easy, cheap lunches.
- Use reusable cups, containers, etc.
- Learn to fix simple things—keep a well-stocked toolbox in the house, and keep things maintained.
We need to consume less, and consume smarter. That won’t just save us money, it’ll save us time and energy too.