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Tuesday 5th December 2023

Develop a frugal mindset with the Buyerarchy of Needs

frugal mindset

You may have heard of the psychologist Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which relates to human needs and motivations.

In 2016, Canadian illustrator Sarah Lazarovic cleverly adapted this concept to show a hierarchy of our buying behaviours. I find it an excellent tool to help me control my spending and to be more conscious of my consumption generally.

In this post I will look at the six layers of the Buyerarchy of Needs and explain how it might help you to save money and develop a frugal mindset. 

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Each time you think about making a purchase, stop and think. Work your way through the layers of the pyramid to look at all other options before you resort to buying something.

Layer 6: Use what you have

Layer six is the base of the pyramid, the largest section. This is all about using what you already have. 

How many of us have cupboards so rammed full of stuff, we don’t know what is there? To make best use of what you already have, spend some time organising the items you already own, so that you can use them, rather than going shopping. 

For example, have a regular wardrobe declutter. When you claim you have nothing to wear whilst simultaneously looking at cupboards bursting with items of clothing, this can be a useful exercise. 

My recent house move made me appreciate the half cans of paint and other DIY items we already have, so we will make sure we use them in our new home before buying more.

Layer 5: Borrow

The next layer of our Buyerarchy of Needs pyramid suggests borrowing where you can. 

So, you need a drill to put up some shelving? Unless you do a lot of DIY this would be a prime example of where borrowing from friends or family rather than purchasing a new drill makes perfect sense. 

Level 4: Swap

If the item you require is something you will use frequently, could you swap something you no longer need?

Clothing is an easy win here. Vinted offers a swap option, or you could host a swishing party. Horticultural societies sometimes organise seed and tool swapping events. 

There are several sites to enable you to swap anything from electricals to tools and even clothing. This post gives a list of the six best websites to swap your stuff.

Level 3: Thrift

Thrifiting is my favourite! When you don’t have an item you need and have exhausted your options to borrow or swap, thrifting is the most cost effective and eco-friendly way to go. It is still a form of buying, obviously, but at a reduced price.

Charity shops are the obvious places to go to find second hand bargains, but I find car boot sales and garage sale trails are cheaper. Facebook Marketplace offers another option for bargain hunting in your local area.

Jumble sales seem to be increasing in number, and you can pick up clothing and bric-a-brac for pennies. Scout groups are a good place to check for these.

Make sure you join Freecycle and Freegle to access stuff people are literally giving away. I would also add to this checking out skips and free signs outside people’s houses. A bonus to the cost saving is that you prevent perfectly usable items from going to the tip.

I love buying second hand, and even did a whole year where I purchased no new items at all. Now it is just second nature to buy pre-loved items wherever possible.

Level 2: Make

Not all of us have the skills to make the things we need from scratch, but we can develop some of them. You can start with making your own lunch to take to work rather than buying it.

Or you can repurpose something you already own or have thrifted with a few adjustments. For example, a woman I came across created a brand new free-standing kitchen by picking up old dressers and cabinets and painting them all to match. Her kitchen looked fabulous and cost hundreds rather than thousands of pounds.

Many people on my Facebook group, My Second Hand & Frugal Life, create gifts and cards as a hobby. They have to spend a certain amount on materials, but frequently get creative with what they can thrift or pick up cheaply to save money.

Level 1: Buy

Finally, we come to the top level of the Buyerarchy of Needs pyramid, where you make considered purchases as a last resort. 

Having worked your way through the pyramid, you will have developed a frugal mindset to allow you to buy carefully.

Make sure you shop around and compare prices. Look at saving up and paying a little more for quality items that will last for many years. As the saying goes, buy cheap and buy twice!

Go grocery shopping with a list and try generic supermarket items, rather than expensively marketed brands.

There are so many ways that many of us waste money and resources. However, by following the concept of the Buyerarchy of Needs you will create a frugal mindset and stop wasting your cash.

Image by Sarah Lazarovic

Shoestring Jane

Mouthy Blogger

Shoestring Jane is a full-time self-employed mum of three daughters. Her frugal partner in crime is handyman extraordinaire, Mr Shoestring. They are constantly on the look out for ways to save and make extra money. Read more on her blog, Shoestring Cottage.

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