tips on how to spend less over the holidays (and any day)

November 09, 2021

Hello there. This is not a knitting post, but a post about how I am learning to spend less money. If you would like to spend less this holiday season, I hope this post will help you, even if only in a small way. Every little bit counts!

I feel I'm a frugal person at heart, but I had gotten into the habit of being more careless than I like to be with money and it made me unhappy. There has to be a hundred reasons why we develop bad spending habits and I don't have the background to dig too deeply into this, but I didn't have to dig deeply at all to realize that my biggest problem was that I was being heavily influenced by what I saw. If I saw something pretty, I wanted it and didn't seem to have the tools to say no and ended up with purchases I regretted. But how on earth was I going to SEE less and how could I develop the tools to say no when I did see something I wanted?

First thing to do was figure out where and how I was being influenced. There's not only the TV/radio/print ads of old, but now we're bombarded online by ads in our inbox, ads in social media, ads every time we look at the computer or phone. So I wondered, if I actually saw fewer ads, would I could I spend less? The answer is yes, but I still had to develop a few skills. 

Besides being highly motivated and sincere in my quest to spend less, I took the following steps to help me from buying unnecessary things. Maybe they can help you too.

1. I unsubscribed from the store emails. I get zero emails from Nordstrom, Pottery Barn and the like, and gulp, I've unsubscribed from knitting sites too with the exception of my local yarn store and a few designers I'm devoted to. This eliminates over half of my temptations. Every few months I take the time to unsubscribe again from whomever finds me. It's an ongoing battle but worth it.

2. I unsubscribed from influencers. This was a tough one because I love to follow pretty blogs, but if a blogger emails me daily or their main goal is to sell me stuff or ads are popping up all over the place, they have lost this reader.  I understand that for many bloggers it is a full time job, often they have a team of contributors, and having ads and shopping links are how they make their money. I don't begrudge them that, but I need to take care of myself. 

3. I'm no longer on any social media. This was a terrible place for me in many ways, but one of the surprise benefits is that I spend less. I find I make fewer impulse buys as I simply don't see the ads and influencer talk on FB and Instagram so I have no idea what is blowing up the internet and what I need to be buying or doing. It's been a year and a half since I left and I do not miss social medial one bit.

4. I ignore sales. This was not an easy one. I used to be highly influenced by a sale price; buying something I didn't need (more yarn is just one example) just because it was on sale.  Now I know I actually save money by buying what I need at full price only when I need it and I waste money buying something on sale that I don't need, but think I will need one day. But that one day rarely comes and I'm usually stuck with something taking up space that I don't want/need. The exception is consumables we regularly use in our home.  

5. When I shop, I have a plan and a budget and try to stick to it. But even with that in mind, it doesn't stop me from number 6:

6. Impulse Buying: When I shop online or in person, I still have an impulse to put things in my cart. Before checking out I ask myself these questions:

-Do I really need it?

-How often will I use it?

-Can I borrow it? 

-Do I already own something similar?

-Is it worth the price?

-Is there an environmental impact that will make me crazy?

-This item will likely take managing; am I willing to give it the time and the space it needs to be managed?

-I have a strict one-in, one-out rule, so what will I remove from what I already own and is it worth the exchange?

After answering these questions, most often I remove the items from my cart and leave the site/store empty handed (except for what I went specifically for) and feeling pretty good about myself. 

Lastly, I find outside encouragement by reading these inspirational blogs:

This Evergreen Home

Becoming Minimalist

Balance Through Simplicity

Be More With Less

I also love reading self help books. These two books were most helpful to me when I was new with the process of wanting to own and spend less:

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta  Magnusson. Don't be put off by the title. It's a charming little book that makes sense.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. If you haven't read this yet, you should. 

Both books are available at the library and both are in audiobook form. They still inspire me and make me smile and I have reread them a few times. 

Now, zip to a new subject! I love the picture below; such concentration. We had our 4 year old grandson spend the night on the Saturday before Halloween. He was pretty sad to see Grammy and Papa's paltry Halloween decorations so we headed to the craft room to set that right. We created spiders, witches and jack o' lanterns and all were taped to the front windows to give our trick or treaters a good scare! We also made a play house!

BOOKS. I just finished this good murder mystery by the author of The Girl on the Train: A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins. Audiobook narrated by Rosamond Pike. 

As always, I'd love to hear your tips and feedback, especially about this tricky subject. If you'd like to make a comment, please click here or scroll down. I reply to each comment and that response will appear directly below your comment. If you would like a personal reply, please know that I use the Blogger platform and they do not give me your contact information when you comment. If you would like a personal reply you can contact me using the contact form on the right side at the very end of my websiteIf you would like to receive Knitionary posts by email, please subscribe here.

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  1. This is a wise post, very timely Kristen. I’ve quietly followed your blog for years, love the knitting and garden, but have been very interested in your decluttering tips. Thanks for sharing. Kathy x

    1. Thank you so much. It was awkward for me to write this post as I'm not an expert on these matters.

  2. Thank you SO much for this post, I feel the same way. I asked my family years ago to STOP buying gifts for the holidays, none of us need anything. We stick to making things for one another and they must be useful things. I knit washcloths and make homemade soap to go along with them. I ask my friends to keep their glass yogurt jars and make beeswax candles out of those. I give homemade granola too.

    We all need to do our parts to protect the earth, buying less teaches our grandchildren how to be more responsible, less wasteful, and guardians of the planet.

    Warm regards,

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I'm glad we are kindred spirits. Not being an expert on this subject in any way, but sometimes personal experience is just as helpful. I love your idea of gifts and I know those glass yogurt jars you're talking about. They are too beautiful to recycle. Homemade soap sounds lovely. It's something I've never attempted but it's on my long list.


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