How I Quit The Spending Cycle
If you read this post, you’ll know that I’ve always been a bit of a spender. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never spent above my means, or got myself into unnecessary debt, but I have always erred on the side of spending over saving, of treating myself, of seizing the moment. And that’s all very well and good if you’re spending your money on things that you actually want, if you’re buying things that add real value to your life. But the truth is that in my case, spending was a habit as opposed to a considered decision. I fell hook, line and sinker for the marketing campaigns, for the big promises, for the idea that I could buy my ideal life.
And I know I’m not the only one. It seems that amongst my friends, colleagues and peers, spending is the norm. It’s no surprise really, when you consider the fact that there are companies spending millions of marketing dollars trying to convince us to do exactly that. Everytime we open Instagram we’re greeted with a barrage of “must have” items styled up on our favourite influencers, and don’t even get me started on the mega expensive fashion spreads that grace even the most down to earth magazines.
But last year I decided that enough was enough. I wanted to get off the fast fashion train, I wanted to stop spending to keep up with the Jones’s, and I wanted to learn how to be more intentional with how I spend (and save) my money.
And I’m glad to say that I’ve made some really big changes. I no longer feel powerless at the sight of an ASOS sale email. I know now that a beauty haul or shopping spree doesn’t make me feel better long term. And perhaps most importantly, I don’t get that horrible feeling of dread in my stomach when I check my bank balance.
So today I thought I’d share some of the tips that have helped me to quit the spending cycle. Hopefully they’ll help you if you want to become a bit more intentional with your money too…
1) Appreciate what you already have
Hands up if you’ve ever bought something that you think you really need, only to get home and realise you already have something similar at home? I used to do that ALL THE TIME. I knew things were getting out of hand last year when I realised I had 14 striped breton tops - I mean, I love me a stripe, but not even I need that many.
The most effective way to overcome this relentless repurchasing is to start appreciating what you already have. Take better care of your possessions so that you don’t have to replace them. Shop your wardrobe instead of shopping the sales. Be so damn grateful for all the gorgeous things you have in your life that you don’t feel the urge to keep buying new stuff. You probably have way more than you need already, so stop adding to the pile.
2) No impulse purchases
I used to be a sucker for impulse purchases. I’d see someone wearing something on Instagram and order it straight away. I’d walk into a shop and convince myself that I needed half of it’s contents in 10 seconds flat. I’d pop out on my lunch hour and head back to the office £50 lighter.
It felt good to buy all of those things at the time. But of course, once that initial buzz had worn off I was left with things that I definitely didn’t need, and if I’m being honest, didn’t even really want that much. It was the buzz of buying that I was chasing, not the actual product itself. Now I wait at less 24 hours before buying anything - if not even longer. I tend to keep a list in my phone of things I actually need, and that way I’m not tempted by a 3 for 2 deal or a discount code on Instagram.
3) Thinking about where else the money could go
Another tip that has really worked for me is thinking about where else the money could go. It’s all too easy to indulge in a sale spree or a little treat every now and then, especially when you’re working hard, but stopping to think about where else that money could go is a really great way of breaking the habit.
For me, I like to remember that that £60 in Topshop could be a flight to a European city, or a nice meal with my husband, or a bit more money in our savings account towards our future plans. Maybe make a list of how you’d like to prioritise spending your money, and then whenever you’re tempted by the lure of a pretty window display, you can weigh up which is more important to you.
4) Unfollow and unsubscribe
If you’re somebody who spends a lot of time online and on social media, chances are that your shopping habits may be directly linked to the people you’re following and the content you’re consuming. I know that mine definitely were - I’d watch a haul or favourites video by one of my favourite YouTubers, and within seconds I’d be itching to buy something.
The same goes for emails - I wouldn’t even be thinking about shopping, but the second that a sale email or discount code landed in my inbox, I’d be browsing their website before I’d even figured out how much the discount was for. There’s a really easy way to get around this - unsubscribe to all the retail emails you get (I click unsubscribe every time I get one now), and unfollow anybody online whose content makes you feel like you need to spend money.
5) Identifying why I want to spend
Finally, my last step in breaking free from the spending cycle was to ask myself why I wanted to buy the thing I was lusting after. It sounds simple, but it’s not something I was doing previously - I was buying first and considering later. 9 times out of 10 when I asked myself this question, the spending was not about wanting the product, but about something else altogether.
Maybe I was feeling a bit insecure that day and thought that a new dress would make me feel better about myself. Maybe I’d had a bad day at work and was spending money to cheer myself up. Or maybe I was simply bored and looking for a distraction. Slowing down and identifying my motives helped me to find healthier (and cheaper!) ways to deal with those emotions instead.
Are you someone who prefers to spend rather than save? What do you think of these tips?