I am a spender at heart! And before I started my journey to becoming debt-free, I will not take a second look about the price when my eyes stumble on an item that I really like. Spending money is something I’m really good at. Whether the price is right or not, I would not care.
There were moments in my life when I attempted to stop spending money and every time I’m about to start I would find myself in the store wandering around in the mall looking for stuffs that I don’t need mostly. I love shopping because it gives me a sense of excitement also it masks the loneliness that I’m feeling when I used to live here in Canada by myself ( that’s before my family migrated ).
However, the day came that I should do something about this habit I have. It all started when I began to stopped by the mall every afternoon after work. I used to live with my aunt and their condo is 5 minutes away from the train station and the mall. So instead of going home right away, I would spend an hour or two going around.
That one time visit each week became 2 afternoon until it became an every afternoon visit to the during weekdays. At first, I would just go around and look but then I started eating dinner at the food court every single time which cost me at least $10 or more. Yes, $10 may not that much but if you try to do that math I end up spending about $50 every week and $200 for a month. I did not only spent money on eating. Instead, I started buying clothes, shoes and anything out of boredom.
The big problem when you become a regular mall visitor is that you get to see the newest clothes trend or the newest deal of every store. Worse than that is, you get to buy those stuffs even if you don’t have enough money to buy it. Simply because, it’s difficult to fight yourself. THAT WAS ME! I am very horrible and I don’t have the power to overcome it.
Before I move to Calgary in August 2012, I have a lot of stuffs already but I still went shopping for clothes that I can wear because their winter is way colder than Vancouver. I thought none of my winter clothing will suit the weather. It’s true, yet I could’ve saved that money and shop in Calgary but I didn’t because I did another round of shopping during the fall.
Honestly, it was very hard to overcome this bad habit I have gotten myself into. If other people can treasure every dime or nickel they make, I’m totally the opposite of it. Yes, making money is difficult especially if you don’t have a good paying job or if you’re job is stressful but I didn’t think about that. What has been ingrained to my mentality is this:
” What if I will die tomorrow?”
This has always been in my mind every time I spend money. I have to enjoy life because we only live once. Also, now that I’m making my own money, I get to buy what I want. But this has gotten me in trouble. BIG TIME. I was broke most of the time. I lived on a paycheck-to-paycheck cycle without any savings for emergency. I relied on credit cards most of the time. It sucks!
The day came…
When I realized that I’m already in a financial mess, I decided to take a break and think… Something has to be done because if I don’t, I won’t be able to get out and recover from being a spender. If this habit keeps on going I end up working until my retirement age or beyond that so that I can pay my debt. Worse, I might retire penniless!
How did I curb my spending habits?
- Decide to get started. This the fist step that everyone must do. When you decide to do it, go to a quite place wherein you can do a reflection about yourself and the things that matters to you most.
- Then ask yourself why you want to do this. You need to find your reason. For me, my reason is that I wanted to stop spending money on just stuff that don’t add value to my life. Not only that, I also want to achieve financial freedom. I don’t want to be working ONLY to pay off debt.
- Start finding out your spending triggers. Was it the mall? Online shopping? Eating out with friends? Traveling? Expensive work out programs?
- Now, that you have figured out what causes you to spend money, it’s time to TAKE ACTION. This is the hardest thing to do especially if you’re caught in random situations. However, these are the actions I have taken that worked with me.
- Plan your every shopping trip/purchase you’ll make. For example, there’s a shoes or clothes that you wanted to buy. First, you make a research about the cost and start saving for it. By the time that you saved up enough then it’s time to buy. But remember to just buy what you plan.
- Create a trick that will work for yourself. If in case you went to the mall without a plan and you found something that you like and you really want to buy it, what should you do? 1.For me, I like to browse in the store then take the items in the cart. I will hold onto that item only then put it back when I’m about to leave the store. NEVER EVER TRY IT ON ( for shoes and clothing )! Why? Because if it fits you well, you might end up buying it. 2.Or if I did buy it impulsively, I will keep the item for a day or two until I decided that I don’t really need it. When you do this, make sure that you keep the receipt in a safe place so you can do returns. 3. The best thing you can do is to avoid the areas in the store where it’s hard for you to resist.
- Don’t bring your wallet. Instead, keep a $10-20 bill in your pocket for emergency. This amount of money can buy you a cup of coffee or a snack just in case you get hungry.
- Always ask yourself if what you’re spending money on gets you closer to your goals. Reminding yourself about your why will help you stop making a purchase because you know that you why is more important that letting go of that money that you’re about to spend.
- When it comes to online purchases, you can do 3 things.
- Uninstall – Amazon is one of my favorite app. It does have good deals and also it’s very convenient to shop especially if you have Prime membership because it gets delivered to your door without breaking a sweat. But when it gets too convenient, you can add more to your cart before you know it.
- Unsubscribe – Remember when you went to a store for shopping and they asked you for your email address? If you gave them your email address, then you’re already in their trap. Because before you know it, you’re already receiving bunch of emails every week about their sales and deals. However, clicking the unsubscribe button won’t cost you any penny.
- Unfollow – Social media is a very strong platform where most of us get lured into spending money. Not only that they use it for marketing but also it is here we simply see good stuff that we tend to buy or spend money on because other people have it and now we want it too!
- Replace costly activities with something free. I used to work out at a gym with a fitness trainer and it’s not cheap. Although, it is helpful, I gave it up because I no longer can afford it and I find a lot of excuses of going to the gym. Instead, I decided to work out at home when I can. Also, becoming healthy doesn’t only means having a fit body but also having a great state of mind and soul overall.
- Learn to say no politely. This is one of the most difficult thing that I have done. I don’t have a lot of friends where I a living now but when some of them invites me for a dinner out, I try to be polite declining them. A friend of mine invited me to have a dinner randomly. I hate to do it but I told her we can do it next month because at the moment I don’t have budget to spend on eating out. Some people will understand and some will not but you’ve got to be honest and polite with them.
- Practice delayed gratification. I’m currently working on this because I know with a spender like me, I do get tempted so easily. I keep asking myself about my priorities. I have a lot of things that I want but it can wait.
- Started reading books that help me recover from being a spender. There are 2 books that I love and I have learned a lot from them. The Recovering Spender by Lauren Greutman and The Year of Less by Cait Flanders.
- Started de-cluterring. When I started this, I realized that I don’t need more stuff. I have found out that I have enough stuff that I can use throughout the year.
- Stopped pleasing everyone. I remember that the clothes, purses, and shoes I wear doesn’t really matter. People won’t really care honestly. It’s more of me who cares too much about the way I look in front of other people.
Curbing your spending habits doesn’t happen overnight. It needs a lot of work in order to improve. You will fail not only once or twice but keep going so that you will succeed. For me, I can’t say that I have fully recovered from being a spender. I still do overspend on some stuff but I’m better at controlling my spending habits now. When this happens, I keep reminding myself about my intentions. Setting intentions to every dollar that your are about to spend is very important because it helps you determine what you value the most in life.
How about you my friend, do you have some tips about curbing your spending habits? Would you want to share it with me? I would love to know them too.