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10th January 2018
For many people, shopping is a hobby. Just like golf or gardening or visiting museums. It’s a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and you feel a rush of excitement when you treat yourself to something new. That happiness is only temporary, though, and you soon have to deal with the post-shopping guilt when you realise how much of your hard-earned cash you’ve parted with during your little spending spree. If you let this habit get the best of you, before you know it your bank balance is suffering and you end up with a financial hangover far worse than the pleasure from the spending binge.
Being frugal and intentional with your spending is the best way to get back to a healthy financial situation – meaning you should only shop for things you really need. There are several ways you can achieve this, and it’s not as difficult as you might think.
Minimise Your Stuff
It might sound counter-intuitive, but actually clearing out your belongings can dampen the desire to go out and shop for more stuff. Think about it – if you’re a bit of a spendaholic or hoarder do you even really know exactly what you already own? Probably not, and this will lead to you go buy things because you don’t know you already have something similar sitting at home in your wardrobe or shoe collection. Also, greater awareness of what you actually have will help you appreciate the things you already own, so you’ll feel less of the need to go out and buy more. ‘Minimalism’ is a bit of an internet trend at the moment, and you can find hundreds of videos on Youtube with tips and tricks of how to reduce the amount of stuff you own that doesn’t serve a purpose in your life.
A few years back, there was a big trend of not spending any money beyond absolute essentials (think basic food, toothpaste, toilet roll and travel expenses to get to work) during the month of February. This was known as ‘Frugal February’ and was a hashtag on Twitter and Instagram where participants could share their experience and encourage others taking on the challenge from around the world.
Essentially, it’s a spending ban where you follow a set of strict spending rules in order to remove any grey areas when shopping. There are some set rules that you can follow, but the golden rule is ‘can I survive without this item?’. If the answer is yes, you can’t buy it. It’s an extreme course of action, but it can be fun too, and extremely effective.
If you want to embark on one of these ‘spending detox’ months, why not team up with a friend or partner and spur each other on and hold each other accountable for any purchases outside of the rules? Compare how well you’ve each stuck within an agreed budget.
If you’re wondering why anyone in their right mind would embark on something so drastic and challenging, perhaps if you think more about your goals then it’ll make more sense to you. Imagine the feeling of paying off all your debts, paying for a family holiday in cash and not having to resort to credit cards or loans or even building up a savings nest egg. That kind of feeling outweighs the short-term sacrifice of a frugal mind-set.
If you’re struggling with setting or achieving your goals, check out our ‘Setting Realistic Goals’ article for tips and inspiration.
Re-use and Use Up
A big money-saver is to stop buying more products when you haven’t finished using older ones. It can be tempting to stock up on armfuls of bottles of shampoo, food, cleaning products and more when you see it on a BOGOF deal. However, all you end up doing is buying more than you need, spending more than you intended and stocking up your shelves with boxes upon boxes and bottles upon bottles that will take you an age to get through. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t pick up your favourite soap when it’s on offer, but only do so if you need some anyway; after all, these kind of deals aren’t really that rare anyway. There will be more deals in future that you can take advantage of. You’re not stocking up for a famine!
If you’re guilty of nipping out for a coffee or buying lunch out every day, you might be surprised how much these little habits will be eating up your funds. To avoid spending money unnecessarily, buy food for the week, including all your lunches and snacks, and prepare everything at home instead. Packed lunches are not just for the kids.
Make a Budget and Stick to it
Follow our budgeting tips to help you put together a monthly amount that you can really stick to. Being aware of your spending habits gives you the power to make changes and be more careful about how you part with your pounds. Staying organised by writing lists will help you realise what you need to spend each day, week and month to achieve your goals.
Don’t be put off by the term ‘frugality’. It doesn’t mean that you’re a cheap or stingy person, it just means that you’re smart with your money, that you’re never spending more on anything than is completely necessary. After all, wouldn’t you prefer to have money in your pocket than in the pockets of the supermarket or your gas company? Of course you would. As such, taking steps to be more frugal will ensure that your spending habits are under control.
Huge tips for being more frugal are:
So there you have it, plenty of ways to stop excessive shopping and regain your comfortable financial balance. We can all go in the red from time to time but having some motivation and restraint will improve your way of life in the long run. Learn what a spending ban entails, set yourself goals, use these tips and stop bad habits for good.