So I know this blog is all about great finds but a financial goal of mine this year is to save. Save adequately enough so that when I look at my account at the end of the year the amount that’s in it can cover more than a coffee and cupcake at Starbucks!
I do save, but one way or another by the end of the year the account balance has dwindled along with my resolve. This culminates in a large bout of frustration when I try to scrimp and scrape some pennies together to get something I really need but haven’t the savings for. Once again I sit totally baffled at where all the money has gone and my incredible inability to save. If you calculate how much goes through you hands in an entire year, you’d be surprised.
One of the biggest drains on my monetary resources is shopping. I love to shop.
Since the new year I haven’t actually spent that much. I have been really determined that this year will mark a change in my finances and they way I handle them but four days ago, I noticed that my new (very much needed) winter coat (which I have had for barely two months) had started to come apart, so I went back to the store the next day to see what they could do (quality over quantity I say). As I walked into the shop, the gleam and glisten of all the new collections laid out for Spring caught my attention. I started to fantasise about wearing that dress on a sun-soaked holiday and carrying that bag (“it will go so well with the shoes I have at home!”) to a (non-existent) party. Everywhere I looked I wanted to bury my head in the clothes – my imagination ran wild! The items called! And I gave in.
I don’t know what it is about it, maybe it’s the rush, the creativity of putting together a new outfit or just that new shoe smell, but I love it. In an attempt to be more financially responsible over the past year, I have really cut down my spending but
ever so often more often than not, the temptation to splurge overwhelms me and I surrender. This doesn’t equate to a healthy bank balance (but I have nice shoes).
I knew that I shouldn’t. I’ve created a budget for the coming month and know how much I have as disposable income. As I handed over my card, I knew that what I spent would be eating into that budget like a pig and like I’ve done so many times before, I would have to scrimp on things that I actually needed in order to accommodate the things I wanted. I ignored it. I went home, and with the new purchase wind still behind me, I bought some things online too! But, after I pressed that ‘pay’ button, I didn’t feel happy.
“This is not good, I have been making such progress and here I am falling again into my old habit. Why???”
I sat there in front of my laptop, had a good long sad think about it and I came to this conclusion: I was putting the look and style of the person I wanted to be above the process of actually becoming/being that person. I had the wrong priorities.
I know this won’t apply to every one – some people are really good with their money, they live within their means, spend wisely and save – but I have just started on this path so it’s hard. Not every shopping trip will take on this meaning either and a treat once in a while is good but when you shop and splurge when you know you don’t have the funds for it, then try to make what you need fit around what you want, it’s bad.
I have always had an image of the kind of woman I’d like to be and what I’d look like in the process: “Dressed for Success”- glamorous, sophisticated, well dressed with a great dynamic job (think Jessica from “Suits”). I have always had that in mind, but it has now dawned on me that I’ve spent so much time and money wanting to look the part and not enough on actually working to be the part. It should be “Dressed after Success”
That new shoe and new handbag that makes me look like I have an important job, am wealthy or a creative fashionista doesn’t actually make me any of those things. Just a fashionable broke girl.
Don’t get me wrong, dressing well is not a bad thing and it’s good to prepare and buy a few things just in case, but when all your money goes on doing that instead of what is necessary, it’s a waste.
That money could be better spent on the course I need to learn the skills that will be useful in my next job or books I need to help develop my mind. Then, after I have got to the place I want to be or become who I want to become and actually need to dress the part (and to be honest this is still a want not a need), I can do so to my heart’s content. With my present case, ‘that dress’ that I had deemed perfect for my fantasy beach holiday, would actually be detrimental to me even going on that holiday – I haven’t even bought a ticket yet! What good is the dress if I can’t even wear it to the place I’m dreaming of going because I’ve used ticket money to buy it?!
I have to blame it on Uni. That’s where it all started. A new place, a new chance to be the “New You”. That student loan comes in and you buy a whole new wardrobe and money pours out like it’s water. You forget that it is a loan and you spend as if you actually earnt the cash, then you get so caught up in trying to keep up appearances that you fail to keep in mind the things that are truly important and truly need your money. Stop keeping up with the Joneses, they’re probably trying to keep up with the Smiths!
If you’re a shop-a-holic like me and it’s straining your bank balance, you have to find ways of saving your money. Whether it’s having different accounts for the necessary spends and the luxury spends or physically staying away from the shops, reminding yourself everyday of the important things your money is needed for is necessary. Write it down, get a picture of it, read it and look at it – the more you see it, the more you’ll put things into perspective and stick to saving. If you stumble like I did, remind yourself of your goals again and pick yourself up.
Ask yourself “Do I need that new dress or do I want it? If so, will it take away from anything important I may need this money for?” answer honestly and act on it.
Avoiding the shops works too because if you don’t know it exists you won’t pine for it but if you’re finding it really really difficult to not spend, the best thing I’ve come across is to create a budget within which you set aside some money to spend on whatever you like. After it’s gone however, it’s gone – no more spending. Buying to impress people is a waste of your money, buying for fantasy occasions is a drain as well. Spend money on becoming the part rather than looking the part. The former is worth more.
P.S. I returned all of the items I bought except my replacement coat and a bag I needed for work. Money back in my bank…I’m back on track!