Money Diet for the Shopping Lover
Do you love shopping but realise that you're spending too much? Most advice columns would tell you to go on a strict budget. But for someone who finds great enjoyment in checking out the mall, that could be as hard as trying to lose weight.
The key to success is the same as when you're trying to lose weight -- devise a sensible strategy that you are able to follow over the long term. For example, you don't want to put yourself on a shoestring budget, and then feel so deprived that you go out on a spending spree.
This page looks at how to CHANGE YOUR MONEY HABITS GRADUALLY. It's useful for those who find themselves having very little left over at the end of the month due to their love for buying things.
Note: if you are in credit card debt, or have barely enough to meet your basic needs, this won't be of great help to you.
Remember: Money is only a tool
Changing your spending habits is also about changing your lifestyle and changing how you view money. Keep the following in mind:
Know Yourself If you love indulging yourself by shopping, chances are you may not like your life to be structured to the nth degree. That may mean that counting money every day, like counting calories, is likely to be a depressing activity for you. The fact that you hate it may ultimately lead you to abandon your budget. Keep that in mind when working out your budget. Find a method which suits your personality.
Don't forget to LIVE I've had various people tell me that they regret being so thrifty in their earlier life. They were so focused on accumulating money that they missed out on experiencing so much, at a time when they were young and healthy enough to do so. Yes, it is very important to learn to save and earn for the future, but it's just as important to live for today. The key here is Balance. It's good to be prudent with your money; but know also that money is just a tool for us to use to make our lives more secure and more fulfilling.
Lastly, Shopping is not a deadly sin In fact, shopping is fun and sometimes therapeutic. It feels good to pamper yourself by buying something, if done within limits. So, enjoy your shopping, as long as you keep to your budget.
Changing the way you save, spend and shop
The idea is to change your habits in a way which challenges you, and yet motivates you, and excites you. The goal is for you to find a way to make the new money habits fit so well into your life that they enhance it, thus ensuring that you can keep it up over your lifetime. These are steps that have worked for me:
♦Start with by saving towards your Dream Item
I bet you're asking yourself now. But I want to save MONEY, and she suggests I save to BUY something? Of course, I can suggest that you start the process by saving cash, but then if you love shopping, you're probably not the type who is excited by seeing the increasingly high dollar figures in your account.
[The good thing about saving to purchase something in the future is that you're taking a baby step towards PLANNING your spending.]
You will automatically adjust how much you usually spend on other items because you know you have to save $X dollars towards your dream purchase.
Start with a goal that you can achieve within a short period of time like 6 months. I would start at something that costs something like 10% of your income in that period of time. Make your dream item something you really like and want, that excites you. It may that vacation you've always dreamed of, or a laptop that you don't have to share with your family. Having an achievable, exciting goal will motivate you, and help you curb frivolous spending and impulse buys.
(Once you achieve your first six-month goal, try allocating 8% of your income towards your next Dream Item, and 7% of your income towards some other goal).
♦Pay Yourself First
Get into the habit of putting the money for your Dream Item (and any other amounts you're saving for other financial goals) aside first. You may find it easier to open a separate bank account for this.
♦Work Out a Budget
Don't start off by trying to work out a very detailed budget, especially if this is the first time you're doing it. That may make it seem like too much work, and increase the chances of you just giving up.
Start by working out (a) how much you're putting towards the Dream Item; and (b) how much you need for essentials like transport, food, utilities. Allocate the rest for your spending/shopping. By not cutting down your spending/shopping money drastically, you ensure that your lifestyle doesn't change too much all at once.
♦Use Cash Only
Studies have shown that people tend to spend more if they use a credit card, so get into the habit of withdrawing a fixed amount every week from the bank for your spending.
♦Buy on your next shopping trip
If you see something you like, note it down, and plan to buy it on your next shopping trip. You'll be surprised at how often the item doesn't appear so attractive any more once you walk away from it.
♦Develop a passion for bargain-hunting
So you love shopping. Why not channel that love into finding a good bargain? It can be a lot of fun hunting for unusual items at garage sales and flea markets. And it can feel good to be able to save money at the supermarket by using coupons, and doing comparison shopping.
♦Develop interests that excite you more than going shopping
Develop an interest or a range of interests that you're passionate about. Create, produce or grow something yourself, rather than being passive consumers of what other people create. Or you could volunteer your time. Or take up a new sports. The most important thing is that you enjoy it.
♦Spend your free time earning money
I think I saved the most money when I've been working too hard to have time to go shopping. And work can be something you enjoy too -- just going out, and interacting with other people, challenging yourself to solve day-to-day problems at work, etc. If you have a talent, you can also think of starting your own business.
♦Learn more about money and budgeting
An awareness of why it's important to manage your money properly will also help motivate you. Check out books from the library. Or if you learn better in a calls, why not check out courses in your local area.