Let's Talk About Money & Spending It Well

sharon-mccutcheon-665638-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Us Brits don’t really like to talk about money, do we? It’s the kind of taboo subject we keep close to our chest, discussing it only with our partners and our family, and probably only then when we really have to.

But I think we need to start having a wider and more open conversation about it. Because while money isn’t the be all and end all of life (and I certainly don’t believe that to be true) it is important. Money gives us power - whether that’s the power to relax knowing the bills will be paid on time, or the freedom of knowing we can make the choice we really want to make, rather than the one we can afford to make. And money can be political too - we talk a lot about “voting with our feet”, but huge changes can be made when we start to vote with our hard earned cash.

It’s something I’d like to talk more about here on the blog. I want to try and help shake the idea that talking about money is crass, because I truly believe that starting a wider conversation is the first step to helping us all get a hold on our financial situations. And so, over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing posts about earning it and saving it and investing it. But today I wanted to start with the fun side of money - spending it.

I’ve been thinking about how I spend my money for a little while now. Like most people, a big chunk of my salary is accounted for each month with things like our mortgage, bills, my pension and savings. But until the last couple of months, I’ve never really thought about how I spend the rest of it. I’ve treated my disposable income as exactly that - disposable, splurging on high street hauls and meals out, cheap flights and endless takeout coffees.

And for the most part I don’t have a huge issue with that. I’m not someone who believes that we should be squirrelling away every last penny every single month - life is short, and it’s absolutely okay to spend money on things that bring us joy. But I have to admit that for a long time I have been spending my money mindlessly, buying things impulsively because I’d seen them on Instagram rather than seeking out stuff I really love, and wasting a lot of money on chain coffees and expensive lunches out of convenience.

In the past few months, as I’ve started to think about money more and more, I’ve found myself wanting to make some changes. That disposable income is hard earned - wouldn’t it be better to spend it on things I truly love? I’m a big believer in supporting independent businesses, so why am I not making a conscious effort to send more money their way? And with the increasingly bleak news about climate change and the rising damage to the environment, isn’t it about time I stopped buying unnecessary items on ASOS every month?

And so, I’ve been making some changes. I’ve set out some loose rules to guide my spending and help me be a little more mindful with my cash. It’s not to say that I’ll never buy a Starbucks coffee or a dress from Topshop ever again, but I do want to make sure that I’m being more conscious with my disposable income. And I thought I’d share those little changes here today, in case you too want to commit to spending your money well.

No more buying books on Amazon

I adore bookshops - they’re my sanctuary - and I would be thoroughly devastated if they disappeared from our high street, and yet I continue to order books on Amazon simply because it’s more convenient. From now on I’ll be dragging my backside to an independent bookshop or our local Waterstones for my regular book hauls.

Doing my research before buying clothes

I know I’m not the only one who watched Stacey Dooley’s fast fashion documentary this week (and I’m sure I’ll write about it in more detail soon), but it’s had a lasting impact on me. I was completely ignorant to the impact that those ASOS splurges were having on the environment, and I feel really uncomfortable about how my fashion consumption could be affecting the planet. From now on, I want to be much more considered when buying clothes. No more buying just for the sake of it, or treating myself to a new dress to cheer myself up - instead, I’ll be searching out sustainable fashion brands, and perhaps more importantly, only buying things when I truly need them.

Supporting the independents

I’m a huge fan of independent businesses - they contribute so much to our local communities and economies, and they bring a little something different to the high street. I know that when I spend my money in a local coffee shop or buy a product from a small online business I am supporting an individual, and so I want to make more of a habit of searching out independents rather than always relying on big chains and corporate businesses. I’m starting by committing to only getting my takeout coffees from indie coffee shops - you’re never too far away from one!

No more emotional spending

There’s no denying that I’m an emotional spender - I can always find an excuse to buy a little treat, regardless of whether I’m celebrating or commiserating. The truth is that those spontaneous, emotional splurges are very rarely on something I actually need, and I quite often end up regretting it once some time as passed. From now on I’m putting a ban on those spontaneous splurges and will be looking for other ways of marking those significant moments in life that don’t involve money.

I'm hoping that these little changes will help me to be more conscious and mindful with my money. I want to see it more as a tool to support the causes I'm passionate about, and less as simply a means to an end. I’d love to know if you relate to anything I’ve covered in this post, and if there’s anything else you’d like me to cover in future money posts then please leave me a comment!