It’s some form of instinctive indoctrination, I guess. It goes back to our childhood.  Do you remember wanting the bag of marbles he had because they were more colourful than yours and the scooter she had because yours was not as nice…? It’s followed us through to adulthood!

I am quite surprised sometimes, when I hear that business down town is not as good as it could be. The `I must have one of those too’ way of thinking is with us folks, in a big way. Well, if so many of us weren’t so keen in just that, to partake in `the social climb’ (although we may not think of it in that way), shops and stores would all but close down, because for so many of us it’s simply a question of ‘must have’ as we follow our peers!

It seems to me that everyone has to have everything, no matter the cost. Going back to our adolescent days, keeping up with your peers was also of great importance, wasn’t it? That’s how many of us started smoking: `they’re all doing it so I can’t be the odd one out’. I, luckily, or for whatever reason, didn’t follow the leader and I think that’s paid off. I don’t buy or do things because `it’s the done thing’ or `we need it’ when perhaps it should be more of, `do we REALLY need it?’ But, that’s how it is, we’re all different and sophisticated marketing ploys and the hungry commercial entities are there, waiting to pounce on the capricious consumer. The fact that we are a very close community and therefore family and friends are in pretty much constant contact, makes pressures greater.

`I’m thinking of getting a new car. So-and-so has just bought the new – whatever it is – it’s such a super model. You should see it. Wow!’ The concerned partner might reply: `What about the trip to America we were going to go on next summer, and the kitchen refurbishment we were planning?’ He retorts, `Not a problem. We can do that on our credit cards. We can apply for an overdraft!’

I haven’t so far heard locally of the major problems there are in the UK with those that get themselves in serious trouble because they own a number of credit cards and end up thousands of pounds in debt. Hopefully no one here is experiencing that nightmare. Perhaps the example I’ve made above is not the case in households generally, but in any case, for those that can somehow find the extra cash, where does all the money come from when we are continually complaining that pounds disappear and we should be earning more? And of course it doesn’t end with the latest, incredible SUV! The same is true of mobiles: `I must have the new one now available. It has everything. I’ll even be able to find out the order in which the Brazilian president has his or her clothes hanging in their wardrobe, if I want to. Isn’t that fantastic?! Will our sitting room wall be able to take the 750 inch plasma screen TV Peter has in his flat? Just think, we can choose from the 50,000 channels available, of which, we only generally watch nine! The latest laptops, gadgets, computers, DVD games, you name it, I want it!’

I know of someone who ‘thinks’ they’re going to keep fit so they buy an exercise bike and jumps on it only about five times and `is sure’ they’re going to slim down with some type of wide belt and wears it twice and `believes’ they’re going to use a fabric steam cleaner for the curtains, settee and armchairs and uses it once. It’s pretty hard work and it can all be a waste of money because of not thinking it through calmly and asking yourself if you’re really going to use it. I’m also reminded of someone I knew in the 60s who lived in the upper town area and owned a Mercedes Benz but didn’t have a bathroom – he had to make do and also shared an outside toilet to boot. What about those priorities?

Owning a property in Spain can also be a great burden. It’s a great idea if you can really afford it always bearing in mind the furnishing and maintenance of that second home is going to suck you dry if you haven’t done your sums right. There’ll be a need to double up on everything you already have in your first home. It’s a bit like owning a Rolls Royce. Okay, you’ve won the top cash prize in the Christmas Lottery Draw, so you can afford the car, but what about the cost of running your gleaming, luxurious automobile. Had you thought about that?  Eighteen months later, there’s a good chance you’ve got rid of it.

Perhaps exceptions to the rule are weddings. You don’t mind splashing out because it’s a (hopefully) once in a lifetime event and perhaps the most meaningful experience of your life. I’d rather spend more on a really exceptional honeymoon. But wait a minute, what am I saying? Those can be afforded too. A week in Cuba, four days in New York and a Caribbean cruise! Or maybe as far east as you can go for a week or two.

Females are usually accused of overspending, and maybe they do sometimes, purchasing items of clothing and shoes that they’ll wear just once or twice, pouring out reasons like not being able to be seen in the same clothes and so on. Well, maybe it’s a woman’s prerogative to be like that, but I’ve got to say that some males are just as bad. Sometimes men’s puerile actions steer them towards the `have-to-have’ region of their minds, especially if Joe, Bob and Francis have one.

Bear in mind if overtime or shift allowance payments slip a little, income drops, the difficulties set in and expenses can’t be properly met. Hence, to conclude, forget about keeping up with the Joneses. That’s not to say be a Scrooge or miser and stash all your pennies under the mattress. No; ask yourself if you really want it, need it or really care about it so much that you MUST have it.

The bottom line I suppose has to be, to each his own and let us do as we please. Yes, but be prudent with your spending ideas and don’t get carried away. ‘Spend within reason’ I guess is an important phrase to keep handy!