I’ve just finished reading Sophie Kinsella’s latest lovely book, Mini Shopaholic – what? It’s research for my novels, honestly – and the result has been that I’ve suddenly reassessed my own spending habits.
The book’s heroine, Becky, is a rampant spender, who literally starts to twitch when she passes an outlet store. She has to shop, and she is quite random in her choices. It’s led me to think a little more carefully about what I shell out for, and when. Is it, as in the book, when I am under stress that I head for a shop? And am I buying things I’ll never wear, as Becky does, just for the satisfaction of having yet another carrier bag trophy to rustle?
One of the ideas I did like was Becky’s pocket-money notebook for her little daughter. Ok, so Minnie is 2, and yeah, so Becky has spent Minnie’s pocket money for her right up until the year 2103, but the principle is sound. It is good to get children to manage their own money, as best they can. We had an interesting moment the other day, when one of my girls was desperate for a pair of shoes – the type of shoes you wear once and which either fall apart, cripple your feet, or go instantly out of fashion. ‘I’m not keen on buying those for you. But I don’t mind if you get them with your own pocket money,’ I said. Suddenly the shoes didn’t seem quite as essential to the continuance of my daughter’s life as they had been minutes earlier, when it was my money on the line.
In a way, it’s not a brilliant time to save, as interest rates are so low (gosh, how do I even know these things? But actually, it’s true. Interest rates are at an historic low). On the other hand, it’s never been a worse time to spend, as almost every household in the country has less coming in than this time last year. I’m definitely not going to splash the cash this winter, and I’m even going to stash if I can. Who knows, I might even start savings accounts for my girls. I’m sure Becky would love the idea.