Hello, my name is Tanya and I used to be a mindless spender. Thankfully, it was never so bad that I went into debt, but nevertheless, I spent a lot of money on things I don’t even remember or care about. I bought things because I was bored or stressed, and a new pair of shoes made me happy until I realized they hurt my feet and no amount of heel was ever going to make me tall. Because I lived within my means, my mindless spending never bothered me much, although I did feel a bit bad when the clothes I donated to Goodwill still had their tags on them.
After my position was eliminated during the Great Recession, I had to tighten my belt, and it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.
I remember going into one of my favorite stores and picking up a few jackets to try on when it dawned on me that I didn’t need work clothes. I had a closet full of them and no job. I smiled at the salesperson, put all the clothes back on the rack and walked out.
It was incredibly liberating.
Sadly, it only lasted for a few weeks before I heard that little voice urging me to spend, spend, spend. I lost the battle and even worse—I can’t even remember what I bought. D’oh.
Fortunately, not long afterwards, I was chatting with my friend Shannon (yes, that Shannon) and she started talking about joyful spending. I was intrigued. I like to spend, but if I was being honest with myself, it really wasn’t all that joyful. It was more of a spend and regret cycle.
Her premise was simple. You ask yourself, “Do you love it?” before you buy anything. Now some of you might worry you would answer “yes” to everything. I initially felt the same way, because I am incredibly good at rationalizing my purchases.
But there’s the rub. I needed to rationalize my purchases because deep down—I knew I didn’t need it, want it or love it.
Today I’m a much smarter consumer. I’m not perfect, but I no longer immediately cave into that voice telling me to spend.
I’m an emotional shopper. My biggest triggers are boredom and stress. I shop to alleviate those feelings. Now when I feel those emotions taking over and creating the urge to shop, I recognize what’s happening and do my best not to cave into temptation. This means having other free options readily available when temptation strikes. I read or watch movies, call a friend or play with my cat, Max.
I haven’t been in the store I mentioned at the beginning of the post in months, maybe even more than a year. I can’t remember. Why? Because I don’t need anything from them. Sure, eventually I may need some new clothes but right now I don’t so why tempt myself? Figure out the stores you are the most likely to lose control in and avoid them unless you truly need to go there.
I admit it took me awhile to get onboard with goal-setting as I have a tendency to discard them rather quickly. After some soul-searching, I realized that I set goals that didn’t mean much to me, so I wouldn’t feel bad if I didn’t achieve them. And of course, I never achieved them because I didn’t care enough about them. Lesson learned. You have to set goals that you truly want and are willing to move mountains—or save money for—in order to achieve.
It’s the question I ask myself all the time. You have to answer honestly, and have enough self-awareness to know when you’re not. It’s saved me countless times from mindless spending and filling my home with clutter and regret. It has also helped me build a save list of all the things I truly want, and it feels amazing to buy something I love AND can afford.
P.S. In honor of The Heavy Purse, I decided to make cookies to share with all of you on my blog Eat Laugh Purr. In the book, Lauren and Taylor buy chocolate chip cookies to share with their Grandpa. I took a little bit of liberty and decided to make no-bake chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookies since it’s too hot to turn on the oven. These are seriously delicious! 😀