There is definitely something of a role reversal in our household insofar that it is only me (as opposed to Heather) who truly believes in the restorative powers of retail therapy.
Many has been the time that Heather has thrown open her wardrobe and declared despairingly that she has nothing to wear. (When she does it, she’s not being melodramatic – she really means it.) I have toddled dutifully off with her to Oxford or London or some other high-density retail location for the day, during which time she will only find one item of clothing she wants – and I will buy ten on a whim. Such expeditions typically end up with one of us grumpy and the other feeling not a shred of guilt. (I’ll leave you to work out who’s who.)
We have fundamentally very different approaches to shopping, she and I. Heather tends to only buy things she needs. It’s not that she pursues a spartan lifestyle by any means – and it isn’t as if I’m not forever encouraging her to treat herself to some new clothes or a book or some other trinket – but she lacks the basic impulse to go out and splurge.
Me? I’m actually reasonably conservative in the sense that I don’t spend beyond my means. However, I do earn more than enough for me to enjoy a sizeable disposable income – and my philosophy has always been that I work hard enough for what I earn, so I might as well spend some of it on stuff that makes me happy.
I freely admit that my expenditure has probably increased at a near-exponential rate over the past ten years or so as my spending power has increased. We average at least two Amazon deliveries every month. I have more clothes than I need, but at least I have something to wear for every occasion. And our house contains more than its fair share of gadgets and other consumer technology: some of it ‘essentials’ (my definition) such as TVs, Sky+ and computers; others more discretionary, such as my iPhone, iPod, PS3, SLR, video camera and other assorted gadgets.
This has been a particularly good week in terms of acquisitions, with a new lens for my camera, a new Playstation game and Heather’s new car being delivered. (It’s not mine, but surely it’s reasonable to get excited over the arrival of any purchase of this magnitude, no matter whose it is?)
Being able to order pretty much anything you want 24/7 online is manna from heaven for someone who buys as often and as impulsively as I do. Amazon is probably the most regular beneficiary of my attempts to help the UK spend its way out of recession – particularly now I can place orders on the go with a couple of prods of my iPhone touchscreen – but I have also used the internet to buy everything from fridges and TVs to ISAs and car insurance, and even cars. (We have bought our last three new cars via an online broker, saving ourselves a very tidy sum in the process. See, it’s not just about spending.)
Is my spending out of control? No. I know Heather would prefer it if I spent a bit less, but our credit cards are paid off in full every month, we go on our family holidays and there is still enough left to put some aside in savings. I’m sure as Zac and Toby grow older we will need to spend more on them and less on us (okay, okay, me), but for the meantime I’m enjoying myself while I still can.
I know I can dial the spending back when I need to. I can give up the spending splurges any time. Honest. Now if you’ll just excuse me, I’m off to see what I need to do to pre-order an iPad …