I am not a spendy person by nature, but I do like nice things. That results in infrequent shopping expeditions, but when (reluctantly) undertaken I try to get the right tool for the job. I also tend to pay what it costs to get good quality that should (hopefully) last for a long time… thus postponing the need for a future shopping expedition.
Set and forget
When I find a product that impresses me I tend to stick with it. This approach has seen some wins over the years.
I’m still wearing the same size and style of jeans I took a liking to 20+ years ago while in university. As one pair wears out I just buy the same again. Roughly 15 years ago I found a super comfortable pair of everyday boots. Today I must be on my 6th or 7th pair of those same boots.
When my ancient Motorola candy bar phone died, my wife decided I needed to finally join the 21st century, and bought me an iPhone. Having the internet in my pocket turned out to be surprisingly useful, and I’ve stuck with iPhones ever since.
Change is bad
There are some downsides to my shopping approach.
Change is not my friend. Nothing ruins my day quite like discovering Pret has discontinued my favourite sandwich. I was grumpy for a week when my go to business suit style was “modernised”.
It can also prove to be expensive.
My most recent semi-retirement stint spend hibernating in a client’s office was a good example of this.
Pay what it costs
The client had embraced the Bring Your Own Device trend . Staff must supply all equipment required to do their jobs, at their own cost.
“Staff must supply all equipment required to do their jobs, at their own cost.“
After several years of solid usage, my iPhone died. It couldn’t be repaired, so I reluctantly visited John Lewis (matched prices, while doubling the warranty for free) on the way home to purchase a replacement.
That evening I managed to spill half a glass of a lovely Viognier into the back of my trusty MacBook Pro. Turns out laptops don’t much like wine, protesting with a couple of fizzle crackle pop sounds before indignantly powering down in a sulk.
The next morning the sulk continued, so a repeat visit to John Lewis resulted in a current generation replacement for my much older model.
My credit card then lost the will to live, probably an overuse injury. My wife convinced me to run an Apple Pay experiment until the replacement card arrived. The dead card earns “cash back” vouchers that help sustain her expensive shoe habit!
The Apple Pay Experiment
Getting used to pulling out my phone, rather than my wallet, to pay for things was an adjustment.
Three months on I realised a surprising side effect of the Apple Pay experiment: I had stopped using cash.
“I had stopped using cash“
I carry my phone in a different pocket to my cash. Once Apple Pay became my automatic payment method, I hardly ever reached into the pocket containing my wallet and loose change.
For many years I withdrew £100 cash per week as “fun money“. This paid for lunches, dry cleaning, visits to the pub, and whatever activities the kids were doing at school.
£5,000+ budget black hole
Mentally cash is spent as soon as it leaves my back account, so I never gave much thought to the annual £5,200 spending analysis hole.
I now had visibility on where that money went. Turns out I spend nearly double what I thought I did on eating out!
The faulty card’s replacement eventually arrived, but I continued using Apple Pay to close that tracking black hole.
- Do you have any budget or spending tracking black holes? If so figure out how to fill them, it might be as simple as using something like contactless payments instead of cash.
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