Saturday, 16 January 2016

Why Buying Books is Okay, Even When You Already Own a Copy

One week into the 90 day challenge and how's it looking? Today -  the first real test - was a partial success; I used two parking discs rather than paying for the multi-storey car-park; I escaped from TKMaxx with nothing more than an item of practical underwear, even though tempted by array of bargain-some beauty product. Why did I even go there in the first place? It's my habit: a habit compounded by the shop's addiction-forming variable-reward system.
I'd had lunch at home and met a friend for hot chocolate before caving and stocking up in M&S.  At that stage I was tired and knew full well that that was willpower-depletion. I could have chosen to push through, to go buy some real food from local businesses. But sometimes knowing why you're doing something doesn't make it easier to not do it. Or, it doesn't make it easier enough.
I also bought a book. Buying books is allowed, as I have rarely regretted buying a book. Even awful self-help books that seemed - on inspection in Waterstones - to hold the secret to transforming my life only to be lots and lots of wasted ink and dead tree. With books you have to kiss a lot of frogs. Not only will you meet some Book Princes, you will over time develop a sixth sense for a book's amphibian-factor. The book I bought today is a Prince. I knew it would be, being "Better than Before" the latest from Gretchen Rubin. Not only have I read Rubin's previous two books, I'd also read this book. I bought it last month. I am a Book-Buyer-Lender-Buyer. Lending books to other people is one of my life's greatest pleasures. It's akin to the hobby of match-making, although there is a downside. This is that a book on loan is not a book on the shelf. And a book on loan may sometimes become a book lost. So every now and again, I will deliberately buy a book rather than resent the very book-reader relationship that I myself set up.
I like Rubin's book. It's witty and thought provoking and I like that she eschews playing amateur cognitive psychologist (although there's plenty of reference to actual research) in favour of anecdote and personal musings.   I even like that she neatly insists that since I disagree totally with her unscientific division of humanity into four habit types (Upholders, Rebels, Obligers and Questioners), this very resistance indicates that I'm a "rebel".

Saturday, 9 January 2016

90 Day No-Spend Challenge

Inspired by a post on that really scientific, factual site, I've decided to go on a spending diet. For the next 90 days, which'll roughly take me up to 10th April, I will not buy any of the following;
-make-up [apart from replacements]
-toiletries[apart from replacements]
-M&S ready-meals
-multi-storey parking
-magazines[ I hardly ever buy these anyway]
-decorative household items
-lunch out unless I'm meeting some-one
This is mostly to stop frittering away money on things that really don't give me much pleasure. I have a freakish stash of toiletries - shower gels, cleansers, gift-with-purchase miscellanies - that needs using up. I have very poor clothes buying habits. I wouldn't even have thought of clothes buying as habitual before seeing this. Not that I'm an awful spendthrift, if anything I'm too slow to "invest" in good quality, high-use items like coats and bags. I buy things because they're discounted but they don't go together. I also buy things for the Unreal Me. Unreal Me wears lots of dresses, which I buy for her but rarely wear myself. My motto for 2016 is "Accept Who Your Are, Change What You Do", and I have to face the reality that I'm just not some-one who's ever going to be a regular dress-wearer.
I'm also doing this to stop frittering away time browsing through the shops where I live. There's nothing wrong with this, but it's my default Saturday-with-nothing-on activity. I can still go into town, but the plan is to bring the notebook and write. Shopping/consuming is a mostly soulless pastime. I really enjoyed Judith Levine's "Not Buying It" and I really like the idea of a total spending fast, but there are a few things I'll be consuming more, not less, of
-cinema/theatre tickets
-trips out of Dodge
-meals/drinks in company
-regular haircuts instead of waiting until I'm the brunette Rapunzel
And finally, I'm doing this for the challenge. It's not climbing Everest, or even Carrauntoohil, but it will involve changing what I do. Am looking forward to it, if I'm honest.