J.D. at Get Rich Slowly has an intriguing post on this subject today -- are you spending money on items that will help you with your current hobbies and interests, or are you buying stuff based on what (or who) you would like to be?
Confession Time. I buy and borrow a wide variety of books on practically every subject under heaven -- especially historical subjects. History and me, we're buds. What can I say.
BUT -- I volunteer at our local thrift shop, which gives me hardcovers and paperbacks for 10 cents each. My other purchases are generally at the library's used booksale -- 50 cent paperbacks, $2 hardcovers. On occasion, I'll buy books, CDs and DVDs on Amazon, but only if they're heavily discounted or used.
I'll also purchase books from Ebay, but they're the oddball antique type needed for research (or my Charles Dickens obsession). I just bought three bound volumes of Dickens' magazine Household Words (1850s date) for a little over $80. I've bought a lot of Godey's Lady's Books and Peterson's Magazines the same way -- one-of-a-kind pieces, bought on the cheap, that I could resell for more.
That's been the hidden plus of all these books -- while on the prowl, I've bumbled across several books that I sold for literally dollars on the penny on Amazon and Ebay. Several boxes of books have been donated back to the library, giving us a nice little tax break.
I used to buy a lot of quilting-related gadgets -- no more. A rotary cutter, mat, scissors, thread and my trusty Featherweight are my mainstays. (Although I have a heck of a time staying away from the embellishments -- threads, trims, fancy buttons and such. To my students' benefit.) I've been slowly working my way through the gardening stuff, especially seeds, that I stockpiled. (Although I'd still love to get my hands on a composting barrel! Anyone want to swap?)
Perhaps the key is being aware of what you spend on what...and why. Can you afford it? Has it made you a better, more informed person? Have your skills improved because of it ? Have you not used it for a year or more? (That one's a huge kicker for me.) Could you resell it for more, if you had to?
I'm getting better at walking away from Good Stuff, even if it's on sale, if I don't need it. My current spending habits are much better. Now to get get rid of some of the flotsam and jetsam of past Bargains...
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