Necessities or Luxuries: Which Do You Put First?

Happy New Year! Now that the Christmas spendathon is over, and the January sales spendathon is in full swing, I’m in the process of dutifully parting with the unspecified sum of money my parentals always grace me with at Christmas in lieu of a present.

The difference is that this year I am not going to spend it on something big. In fact I’m in the process of buying those boring things that I usually put off buying because I am trying to save money, can’t be bothered searching, or have throughout the year prioritised frivolities and ‘extras’.

But the fact is, when I put my mind to it I love buying these necessities. It makes me feel as if I am looking after myself.

After a misspent (literally) youth of frivolity with money, I became a rabid stinge in my early thirties. Along with this came a willingness to get the basics paid for first – rent, bills etc – and to stock up on the dull necessities of life before venturing to buy anything frivolous. I adopted the kind of mentality that privileges having enough underwear in your drawers over having a new pair of tailored pants, a glamorous dress or Italian shoes.

It’s a sane way to live, but I think I overdid it for a while. For example, I used to spend a fortune on vitamins, and I’m not sure I needed all of those tablets rattling around in my insides.

In the last few years I’ve been rebelling against this tendency a bit, and buying a few frivolities ahead of necessities (although I will always be a stinge – most of my frivolities come from op shops). But when I received my Christmas money this year, I knew it was time to get back to basics. I’ve been ignoring some dull requirements for a few months now, and it was time to play catch up.

So here’s the list of basics I’ve either bought or am intending to buy:

Cruelty-free lipstick – it can be a hassle finding cruelty-free lipstick if you don’t want to buy online. I’ve discovered that three mainstream brands, Innoxa, Australis and Face of Australia, are cruelty-free (it’s sad that there are so few since many of the big brands started selling to China, which demands animal testing). These brands are available at some Priceline stores and Innoxa is also sold at Myers.

Neck support – for tele watching. Aesthetically unpleasing – downright daggy in fact – but very comfortable.

Lumbar roll – long overdue. I need support for my lower back while using the computer, watching tele, reading on the couch, etc, etc.

Neem oil – this seems to be the go-to oil for organic gardeners. Apparently it keeps away the little pests such as snails while not harming beneficial insects like butterflies and bees. I am also hoping it will deter (without actually poisoning) the possums that populate my garden and love eating my succulents.

Oversized hair rollers – these are perfect for getting my flyaway fringe under control – the standard size rollers don’t do the trick at all.

Big new diary – of course I would have bought this anyway, but I have bought one of those A4-size ones and it’s carbon neutral to boot!

New torch – I dropped and broke the last one during the traumatic period a few weeks before Christmas when I went for three days without electricity while some of the wiring at my place was being fixed. It was a nightmare time and dropping the torch didn’t exactly help matters.

Cute shower cap – for the bath, not the shower. (Does anyone wear a shower cap in the shower anymore?) Must have more baths this year.

New hessian bag – for library books and the beach. Hessian is incredible, a light material that holds heavy weights and lasts for years. My last hessian bag, 15 years old at least, finally bit the dust in 2013, so it’s time for another.

New saucepan – boring but necessary.

Hair cut – I would have had this done anyway, but may as well use the Christmas money for it!

Calendar – I always buy these after 1 January to save money, and this year will be no exception.

Parasol – currently I use my boring navy blue umbrella as a parasol on those boiling hot days when a hat just isn’t enough. I am looking for a cute parasol that will do the job with a bit more style.

That's enough necessities for now. Even when I'm buying necessities I still use my intuition, which makes it more likely that the things I buy are right for me.

And I did manage to also buy a half-price, oversized wool top at the Salvos in Malvern, certainly not a necessity for this time of year but a bargain too good to pass up.

Do you normally skimp on necessities but buy luxuries instead, or do the opposite? How do you feel when you put luxuries first, and how do you feel when you put necessities first?

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