Owning stuff doesn't make you happier.

Going cold turkey on spending, quite often does.

The money you save gives you more freedom in life and will let you do things that actually make your life better.

Here are some ideas of what you could go cold turkey on:



We have way too much clothing in New Zealand and thanks to the concept of fast fashion our wardrobes are busting at the seams, yet we want more every season.

I was speaking to a teenager who said his friends go shopping for new clothes every couple of weeks.

It's very easy not to buy clothes. You just don't go shopping. If you need something, ask friends or wear those to-die-for items you bought last year.

When a friend bought some ballet-flat shoes recently for a one-off event, I told her off.

We have the same size feet and she could have borrowed mine.

Costumes and decorations

Just a few weeks ago I found myself buying a Day of the Dead outfit. Never again.

This falls into the category of unnecessary rubbish that drains the wallet needlessly and ruins our planet.

If you want to dress up for a party or event, Google the word "DIY" and then the name of the costume.


In fact don't just do it for costumes. I did the same for dry cleaning recently. Steam it, brush it, hand wash it, spray it or don't buy dry-clean-only clothing.

Baby gear

If you've got a new or not-quite-so-new baby there's an awful lot of stuff you can go cold turkey on.

Let's start with sewer-clogging, wallet-draining wipes. And certainly don't buy a wipe warmer, nappy bag, nappy stacker or a bassinet when they're going into a cot eventually.

Also don't buy a changing table when you have a towel and the floor, a baby bath when you have the sink, baby shoes when they can't walk, or baby towels when your own towels can be used.


Like books, toys come free from libraries. Find your local toy library or get friends together for a toy-swapping session.

Everyone has toys that were given to their children and never used.

All these toys, including so-called educational toys, aren't going to make your child smarter. Doing something imaginative, however, may.

That word "DIY" goes well with "toys" in a Google search as well.

A third or fourth bedroom

We all think we need more space to live in than we do.

The bigger the house the bigger the mortgage, rent, heating, rates, maintenance and need for furniture, not to mention a paid cleaner.

Using a smaller space more economically makes sense.

Do you really need a spare bedroom for guests? A second lounge? A media room?

I had to rearrange my house to create an extra bedroom at very short notice and the impossible proved possible. The big garden is also a bit passé.

A second or third car

Cars chew through money. I was involved in a discussion about how a local family was buying a second car now that the teenager had increased the number of drivers to three using one car.

Stuff the teenager. If the family could cope with one car and two drivers then the third driver should just fit in and use feet, cycle and public transport the same way she always has.

Public transport, peer-to-peer car hire, and the occasional taxi is still cheaper than the ownership and running of a second car, WOF, registration and so on.

An electric bicycle really is the answer for a growing number of Kiwis who use them for sweat-free commuting.

Just-in-case stuff

I used to be very guilty of this; buying things like just-in-case keyboards (albeit for $2 at a garage sale).

Becoming self-aware of behaviour patterns such as this need for just-in-case stuff can boost the bank account every time you resist. Just don't buy it.

When you do go cold turkey on spending, sometimes you find yourself apparently stuck.

I "needed" pedals for a bicycle recently. I took to Facebook to ask friends if they have XY or Z not being used.

Most recently it was a set of bicycle pedals, which thanks to that post landed in my letterbox later that day, clearing one unused item from another family's garage.

As a nation we replicate so many things in every house. It feels like begging when I ask, but really I and all of us need to get over that idea and be more neighbourly. I relish such requests from my friends.

Be grateful for what you have. Mindful purchasing and ownership of goods is great for your mental wellbeing and wallet.