how to break expensive habits

Lately I've been trying to retrain myself in terms of spending habits. This past year I've gotten a little too comfortable with treating myself. My timeline the past 5 years:

-I'm going to my dream school in a city I love next year, I don't deserve anything more than I already have.
-I'm living and learning in an awesome city, I don't deserve to buy myself clothes or an expensive drink.
-I'm in London! I have a stipend! Spend money on a cupcake! Spend money on a show! Spend, spend spend! Save enough for traveling, but USE ALL OF THAT! ONCE IN LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY, SO SPEEEEENNNND!
-I'm not abroad anymore, but I still want to have each day be exciting and fun! I should buy myself a chai! Also, I have a retail job now, so I can afford it, PLUS, I can buy that cute fancy sweater! Sppoooeeeenddddd!
-Oy vey. I can't afford anything. I don't deserve anything. I want everything. HELP.

Not great, right?  Lot of no-no's here, even when I wasn't buying things left and right.  First off, the idea of "I don't deserve this" is detrimental to your well being. Take it from me. It just makes you feel worse. You DO deserve the best, as long as you're grateful and humble.  I have to remind myself this.

HOWEVER! Deserving is different than needing. Of course I deserve a nice new haircut, or a pint of ice cream. But do I need it? That's a different question altogether.

I'm knee-deep into trying to tackle my spendspendspend mentality. It's been a struggle, and I don't consider myself an expert in any capacity, but I thought that if I share my current tactics, I could open up the discussion about what else can be done to be a smarter spender. Here we go!

1) Don't try to cut everything out in one day.
From my experience, trying to tell myself that I can't eat out or go shopping for a specific amount of time does not work. I cave within a few days. It's just too big of a change and I wimp out. BUT, if I give up, say, buying clothes for an entire month (which is a feat for me now, since I work in a clothing store), it's much easier for me. It gives me focus, and I am able to follow through with my goal and take a step in the right direction. I get out from the other side of it and am able to think, That wasn't so bad after all! Also, it forced me to get more creative with the clothes I already have. Victory.

2) Set limits.
What works better for me (although it's not a perfect method), is setting aside "treats" for each week. For instance, last week I told myself I could have one sweet treat (such as a pint of ice cream), and one night eating out (such as a pizza date with Ted). This not only reminds me to control my craving to spend, but also gives me something to look forward to, like a favorite show that's on once a week.

3) Don't let loved ones help you break the rules.
I've fallen guilty to this one more times than I'd like to admit. I'll be doing great one week, and I've already used my treat, and then Ted offers to buy one for me himself. It's hard to say no, believe me. But I'm trying to get better. Why? Because saying "yes" feeds into a lifestyle that I simply can't sustain independently. I don't want to get comfortable with expensive coffee drinks or pastries more than once a week (at least at this time in my life).

4) Remember your obligations.
Before making a purchase, I try to think about what might make it a mistake.  Rent, various bills I have to pay, the exciting trip I have planned in the next few months--these all eat up a large portion of my income.  When you wonder into a shop and and are about to try something on or convince yourself you need a new fancy soap, always try to think about these things before bringing them up to the counter to purchase. Most times it's easy to talk yourself out of what would be a rash purchase.  Just try not to beat yourself up for almost being lured into spending. It happens. Just accept it and move on!

5) Know when you just have to enjoy yourself.
Traveling is obviously a big exception to some of these rules. When I have my friends in town later this month, I'm going to be spending more than I would in a typical week. When I go to NYC, I will be spending more than I would in a typical week. That's okay, as long as I prepare and budget for it (which is on my to-do list today). 

Any advice out there about being more money-savvy?  I'd love to hear!

1 comment:

Kate said...

My sister and her girlfriend are crazy good at budgeting. They live together and each put their share into separate envelopes; ie. rent, electricity, groceries, work-out classes, gasoline, treats. It works really well for them. I am not into that strict of a regiment, but I stopped ordering anything online. I only have a bicycle, so I don't make big shopping trips or go to places like Target once a week. If I take a trip to the grocery store, I remind myself of personal health goals, so I end up buying cheaper stuff like produce. If I go to Target or something, I make a list and stick to it. It also helps to take out a certain amount of money from your account and only bring a small amount of cash with you when you go out. I know that isn't safe for emergencies, but it is huge especially when I used to go out to bars because I always want to be a pimp and buy everyone drinks. Only bringing $20 helps not be a pimp. I also have a really big saving goal for the end of the year, so that helps! I remember in high school, you would ask me if I really really really wanted/needed the item, and I still think about that. Haha. Good luck!