Monday, 28 September 2009

Instant Gratification vs. Looking Forward to Something.

I was thinking about this today, as I walked between the craft shop, where I had just purchased half a metre of stiffener fabric and some magnetic poppers for a bag I want to try and make, and the wool shop. We are counting every penny, and I have had to wait since last week for the wool (for winter hats for the family). I was really looking forward to getting the black and white wool I had seen last week, but sadly, all the inside stalls in our posh new market in Carmarthen were shut, including the Wool shop. So I changed my steps towards the sewing shop in Darkgate. There I browsed the wools and ended up choosing two balls of chunky wool in greys and navy/dark blues. The thrill of taking my pick according to what I needed (and could afford) was heightened by the fact that I had had to wait, (and the fact there wasn't an overwhelming choice!) and couldn't just go straight out and buy what I wanted, and then some more besides, as I used to be able to do. Of course, that old-fashioned habit of days gone by, saving up for something, is a rare beast these days. In these days of credit cards and instant gratification, couples moving into fully furnished, fully equipped homes after weddings which cost more than a 10% deposit on a small family home (and instead of the 10% deposit on a small family home!), saving seems to have become a thing of the past. It's not helped of course, by bank rates offering no improvement on hiding your money in an old sock under the mattress, or by people who have saved by their old age being literally penalized for doing so, as their money is taken for them to pay for care homes when they are in extremis. Yet the feckless, with nothing, get the same care for free.

As I said, I was pondering all this as I walked along. Things are so much more enjoyable when you have to wait for them. Good food (or when you are hungry, ANY food!); a glass of cold water when you've worked up a thirst; a cool shower after exercise on a hot day. Curry is all the better for being made one day and eaten the next, when the spices have blended. An outing all the more enjoyable when it has been postponed and finally enjoyed. Friends and family all the dearer when not seen for a while. The pleasure in finding that out-of-print book you have been hankering after for years is heightened by the years of searching in vain.

My husband once told me about having to save up for a large and rather expensive stamp album he really wanted. For weeks and weeks he saved up his sixpences until finally he had all the money for the stamp album. He arrived at the shop, looked at the album, and realized that he didn't want it any more . . .

Perhaps we should all think more about whether we actually need to buy something, or just WANT to buy it. Perhaps we should practice a little self control. Amazon have our number though, offering the one-click option, so that we will be sorely tempted to buy now and think it over later . . .

The scrummy wool photo at the top of the page was gleaned from Creative Commons . . .


  1. I wish I had known there was a wool shop in Carmarthen when we visited last month, for I love to buy a bit of inexpensive yarn or fabric and meld it into something wherever we go; not necessarily straight away, but eventually .... Not being able to get what you visualise but having to make do with what there is has become a kind of challenge for me. So here's a challenge for all who are financially hard pressed at present; take some item that you really hate and make it into something that someone else may love.

  2. What a thought provoking post. Interestingly it is the instant gratification by credit cards, that has now forced me to go full circle and think what I do with every penny, as I did when I was a first a mother and my Mum did when I was young.
    I never knew money was tight as a child, as I always seemed to have what was needed and lived in a nice house but when I was sifting through boxes and boxes of bits and peices, after Mum died,I found a note book where she had itemized and given reasons for spending even the smallest amounts, in the late fifties... maybe that would be a good discipline now a days.
    I loved the album story as it is so true that what we think we need now is often not what we want later.

  3. Hi BB,

    Aye. Mea culpa and still paying for it all years later. Still, its such a pleasure to take a pair of scissors to a paid off card. Why isn't there a sanity test as part of the application form for those bloomin things.
    Granny was a great believer in saving up until you had enough for whatever. She always said that if you could do without it for all that time you very rarely needed it anyway.

    wish I had listened.......


  4. "Yankee Thrift" was a way of life for so many in New England where I grew up. Most folks in our family and in our larger circle were careful with money.
    Finding great stuff at second hand stores, rummage sales, flea markets was a necessity most of the while we were raising our children. Although it gets dreary not to have the occasional spare funds [been there!] for the most part my daughter and I delight in finding clothing or household goods at a fantastic bargin--it becomes recreational.
    I confess to buying a few nice clothes in the past few years from my favorite on-line catalog--Eddie Bauer--but only after they've been marked down as far as I think they will go.
    Books are a necessity of life! Second hand most of them, and again, part of the joy is in the searching. Fabric--hmmm--a downfall. Good chocolate--hoarded as one of life's indulgences.

  5. I will confess, I only ever use my credit card on line. I don't actually know its verification number to use it in a shop. That way, there is NO temptation . . . except on Amazon and the lure of the one-click. Now I know I have no money to pay a bill at the end of the month, I don't even use it on-line - well, only for £5 worth of DVD this past week, and I can cope with that. The children are the ones who run my credit card bill up, using it to purchase travel tickets, or pay for something they want. They give me the money, but it's usually in cash, and by the time the bill comes round, the cash has been used for fuel, groceries etc. . .

    Ann - gosh, there's a challenge. We are moving stuff from the back room at present in order to put two pine cupboards in auction today, so I dare say something may turn up . . . The better wool shop is in the new Carmarthen Market. The sewing/art shop in Darkgate has but a very limited supply of wool. If you are in the area, best go to Llandeilo, where there is a fabulous wool/sewing shop at the bottom end of the town (park near the church, shop is in the little street which leads off from the back edge of the churchyard. Face Peppercorn, and turn right.)

    Angie - keeping a check of every penny spent is what I have been doing these past few weeks. We knew where it was going, but now it is rewarding to see we have halved our outgoings. Because we live in the middle of nowhere, fuel is a big chunk, but we try just to go out a couple of times a week now (and because of doing the car boot sales, the 2nd time is an essential bound up with that).

    Al - your granny was a very wise woman . . .

    MM - Fabric. Well, they really shouldn't have put some tempting pieces right on the counter where I was waiting to pay for my wool. I only bought one fat quarter, and it is to go with some of the beautiful material you sent me, and to become a cushion cover for our sitting room. £2.70 well spent! I agree, being thrifty does become a way of life, and I have never been one of those people for whom belongings must be brand new and perfect - with my china, I don't mind a little crack. It can be displayed good side out and still be decorative.