There are many people out there that will reasonate with the term “shopaholic” but it’s not often that you find someone that has some kind of control over their spending habits. Well, that was until you stumbled on this little post of mine 😉
Ever since I first started working and getting my weekly £30 in EMA when I was 16 and still at college (WHY WOULD THEY GET RID OF EMA?!!), money would burn a hole in my pocket – back then my £20 a day earnings would simply fund a packet of fags, a bottle of Lambrini and a new top from New Look in town (Letchworth isn’t the best shopping destination – New Look and Dorothy Perkins is the best we have to offer unfortunately). But as my earnings grew, so did my spending habits. I left my first job as a Saturday girl in a local hair salon, frequented by the old ladies coming to get their weekly wash and blow dry, when I was 17 and earned myself some more moolah stacking shelves and serving booze and fags to the locals at our local corner shop. More money = more shit to buy. I would venture out of town to Stevenage and head into Primark to top up my wardrobe with accessories, £1.50 strappy tops and cute floral skirts that would cost around a fiver.
At 18, I’d bagged a job in Morrisons working 10 hours a week on the tills, before getting my hours bumped up when I went to work in the pharmacy, first as a pharmacy assistant, then as a dispensing assistant (which meant I would put prescriptions together for the pharmacist to check). Now, this is the point in my life when my spending started to spiral.
I would spend my lunchtimes wandering around town buying new bits from New Look/ Dorothy Perkins, munching on a sub from Subway or a steak bake from Greggs, then heading into store after my shift finished and buying as much Diet Coke as I could carry on my walk home, along with all the nibbles I fancied.
This carried on for a few years until at 21 I moved out into my own flat and suddenly found myself in a financial position where this lifestyle wasn’t an option anymore. I was stunned by the lack of disposable income I had and really struggled to keep up with my bills, let alone my shopping habits! I got into debt on credit cards and with family, insisted on going on our annual holiday with Aaron when I really couldn’t afford it. Not too long after I was crying to Aaron about how I didn’t have enough money to survive.
He helped me out a lot and it wasn’t until he moved in with me 18 months after I moved into my flat that I started to make a dent in my debts. I got promoted at work, started to cut down on my spending habits and after about 2 years, I’d finally cleared my debts.
Debt was the one thing that truly curbed my shopaholic ways. It’s a scary thing and very real when you’re living on your own, knowing your credit rating has gone to shit so nobody in their right mind will lend you any more money and you have around £150 left after all of your bills have been paid to spend on food, toiletries, going out and just living for the next month.
Okay, so we now have a bit of background – but how have I recovered when I always seem to be showcasing new garms like they’re going out of fashion (lol – pun intended 😉)?
I became quite the savvy saver since Aaron and I got engaged – we had a wedding and honeymoon to save for and I wasn’t waiting another 10 years before we could finally get married! And I think having an end goal in mind kept me on track.
So here are a few tips I’d like to share if you’ve found yourself “keeping up appearances” and quickly spiralling into the black hole of debt;
Make a budget
Work out how much your outgoings are and what NEEDS to be paid; rent, council tax, food, gas, water, electric etc. They’re all non-negotiable and you can’t pay the rent with the beautiful Chloé bag you purchased. Rank everything and make sure to take into account any debts you have. Once you know how much disposable income you have left, you know how much money you’ve got left to pay for that new dress you’ve been lusting after.
Pay off your debts and DON’T BORROW MORE!
I battled this by transferring my overdraft to a 0% credit card by cash transfer. If you’ve got credit card/store card debt, transfer it onto a 0% balance transfer card (if you’ve got an overdraft you want to clear, you need a cash transfer card so make sure to check that before applying as balance transfer cards only work for existing credit- you don’t want to apply for credit you’re not going to use as it affects your credit rating).
I had 18 months to pay off my debt before the 0% rate no longer applied, so look for a card where you know you’ll be able to pay everything back before you have to start paying interest. Work out how much you need to be able to pay off each month and if you can’t afford to pay it all before interest starts getting piled on, make sure to start looking for another card you can transfer your balance to with 0% interest again. And for God’s sake DON’T BORROW ANY MORE! It’s a downward spiral and you’ll never get out of debt if you keep borrowing at the end of the month.
Live by your means
Ever heard the term “champagne taste with beer money”?! Don’t live beyond what you can afford – if you can’t pay the council their (IMO an unreasonable amount of) council tax, then you sure as hell can’t afford to go jet setting to Ibiza for a girls week of getting wankered and soaking up the sun. Get your shit together and make some compromises – cut out your daily Starbucks habit. Buy some multi-packs of Diet Coke to take into work (if you’re a bit of a fiend for a can of DC as I am), bring in a packed lunch to work, buy a re-usable bottle to re-fill with water, say no to the weekly after-work drinks at the pub on a Friday night and go once a month (or barely ever if you’re me) – you’ll soon start to see your pennies stacking up each month and I can attest to saving myself a fortune from doing these things.
Have an end goal in mind
Your end goals can change over time, my initial one was to be free of debt, which then moved onto saving for our trip to Thailand, then onto our wedding and honeymoon and is now saving for a house.
I also like to have some spare cash to spend on any clothes, make up or accessories I’d like which helps me massively – by having an end goal, I’ve saved enough cash that picking up a Kate Spade bag from one of the stores in Bali wasn’t an issue for me;
Was it a necessity? Absolutely not! Could I afford it? Yes…once Aaron offered to go half’s with me 😂
Learn how to tell yourself no
This was a difficult one for me – being a shopaholic is hard to overcome, but consider what you already have before making a purchase. I try to limit when I go out shopping and no longer just head out without an idea of what I want to get. If I shop online, I always put something in my basket or on my favourites list and leave it there for a while before I have a chance to think about what I already have. If I’ve got something similar, I’ll try to make do. If it’s something I’ve fallen in love with and am still thinking about for a few days/weeks later (depending on the price) then I’ll take the plunge.
And there you have it! I’m still a shopaholic at heart, but it’s no longer controlling my life. Let me know in the comments whether you’re a shopaholic and if so, how you balance your lavish lifestyle!