#30BeforeThirty No.5: Reigning In My Spending Impulses

pexels shopping bags.jpg

I know, I know! This is a triple fail because I was supposed to blog about finding a new hobby three posts ago, and yet, here we are! Look, the first few weeks of the year just aren’t the right time to start a new hobby, okay?! (btw, it's me that I'm shouting at, not you, dear reader.)

This one is a biggie for me, folks. I know that everyone feels the pinch in January, post-Christmas, but I am a year-round shopaholic, and present-buying sends me into a kind of frenzy/high/euphoria that can take weeks to come down from. When I was 12, I became addicted to cigarettes, when I was 13, I became addicted to binge-watching (shout out to Buffy seasons one through 7 on VHS!) and sometime in my early twenties, when I went from being extremely poor to having a full-time wage that gave me a small amount of expendable income, I became addicted to shopping. At first, I felt it was my right. You could not tell me a thing in contradiction. All those years scraping by on welfare benefits, and later, on minimum wage, staring longingly at all the things I couldn't afford when walking through a shopping centre. I had to make up for those years. And I did. And then it became a habit. If I had a bad day: treat myself. If I had a good day: treat myself. Suddenly, it became hard to walk past a row of shops without popping in for my regularly scheduled "treat".

Then came the credit cards and overdrafts. I remember reading that, in order to get any sort of decent credit rating, you needed to prove that you were good with credit. What that actually means is being good at getting into debt and then paying it off. Well, I bloody soared at that. I could teach a freakin' masterclass. But then, the debt grew, my credit limits were increased, my shopping habits expanded and blah, blah, blah, here I am: great credit rating, terrible bank balance.

I'd like to point out at this point that my spending habits are not purely a symptom of vanity. If I were to put myself "under the microscope", it would become clear that these somewhat superficial impulses are a symptom of something deeper. Often, I shop in some feeble attempt at self-care. And, honestly, sometimes it works. I love looking good, and a lot of my money has gone toward either covering up or fixing my acne-prone skin - a necessary feat for a large part of my self-esteem. What I have neglected to focus on, or even fully realise up until recently, however, is that a large part of self-care and even self-esteem are things like financial solvency. Only now am I beginning to realise that being debt-free may actually make me happier than (or at the very least, as happy) finding the perfect gel-to-oil cleanser.

Now for the hard part: where do I start? At a glance it seems obvious, stop spending money. Sure - but then what? Well, I decided to seek some guidance from the nation's fave: Martin Lewis - Money Saving Expert. First things first, complete a budget planner: what can I afford to save, what can I afford to spend, etc. Then, in his Piggybanking Technique, Martin recommends having multiple bank accounts (piggies), each for different purposes, i.e. one for bills, one for holidays, one for Christmas, and in my case, one for cosmetics. Then, from your (separate) main account, set up standing orders to each of the accounts to "feed the piggies". This way, you can see what you have to spend at a glance. Can I go out for work drinks this Friday? Am I going to New York or Tenerife on my jollies this year? Can I afford that Pat McGrath eyeshadow palette this month? (I mean, I feel like the answer to that is always going to be a "no" tbh. Sigh.) Martin recommends starting from a place of "what can I afford?" rather than "what is the cheapest way for me to..?" After all, those shoes, at 50% off are still 50% too much if you have to use your credit card to buy them, right Martin?

So here goes... I've done my budget planning, I've set up my multiple accounts and standing orders, now all that's left to do is stick to it. The only thing that casts any shadow of a doubt is my emotional connection to shopping. Like I said, it's become somewhat of a comfort to me. So what do I do when I'm feeling crappy and want a pick me up? I'm going to #ShopMyStash*. I realised recently, after moving house, that I have a lot of makeup, etc. that I don't use, mainly because I forgot I even had it in the first place. So to start off 2019 as I mean to go on, I am challenging myself to No Buy January (and beyond, hopefully!) in the hope that I can appreciate what I already have while trying to make healthier habits to boost my mood AND improve my financial situation all in one fell swoop!

I’ll keep you posted with how I get on…

Please feel free to share any financial tips or tricks you may have picked up on over the years. What is the best financial advice you have ever been given?

Thank you for reading this most recent post in the #30BeforeThirty series. Hit me up in the comments and let me know if you liked what you read (or if you didn't).

I’ll aim to get the next most up midweek some time as I have some catching up to do!

*Special mention goes out to all the girls and guys in the Full Coverage Beauty Banter Facebook Group who are also stash-shopping and are a great source of moral support!