For many years I’ve been a chronic overspender. I used to “treat” myself regularly buying tonnes of books and DVDs, and then I had too many books and DVDs so had to buy another bookcase just to house them. An endless cycle of spending.
But, I’ve now realised I need to start saving my money. We want to buy a house (eventually) and we also want to get a dog. All these things cost money. I’d also like to give up my day job and work from home. All these things mean I need to start being more frugal.
We’ve done well with some other tricks I’ve found online: putting the heating on less, buying second hand clothes etc. We’ve also found eating a mainly vegan diet has been brilliant for the budget. A tin of chickpeas is 30p whereas a pack of chicken breasts is £5. No brainer there. Check out my Pinterest board for recipes if you’re interested.
This all only goes so far when you’re still spending too much on things you don’t need. So I’ve been thinking of ways I can train my brain into wanting to spend less money. And so far it seems to be working. Last month I didn’t spend any unnecessary money. Which is a big deal for me.
How am I doing it, I hear you cry? A few ways actually.
No longer buying things as a treat.
This is my biggie which has helped me stop spending so much. Instead of buying things that I don’t really need to treat myself I do things I enjoy instead. For instance, I love going to the cinema, and through my work we get cheap cinema tickets, so instead of spending £20 on books I’ll spend £12 on cinema tickets.
Obviously, that’s still spending, but at least it’s being spent on an occasion rather than just an object. So if I really feel like treating myself but don’t want to spend money, I’ll either go visit my niece (who is 2, completely adorable and makes me happy) or we’ll go for a walk somewhere lovely. All free things and make me feel ten times happier than any book ever could.
Break the emotional attachment you have to things.
Another biggie. Things are just that: things. Apart from a few items which hold true sentimental value, like the Bible my Grandad gave me and a beautiful photo of my Great Grandmother, I’m trying to hold no emotional connection to an object.
I keep telling myself every time I walk past my bookshelf bursting with junk that it doesn’t matter. And every day I’m getting closer and closer to getting rid of the lot. I now see that space as wasted rather than filled with items I care about.
Persistence is key with this one. You have to keep telling yourself that these things don’t matter. Especially when it comes to throwing anything away. Goodbyes are always hard.
Ask yourself 3 questions before buying.
Obviously there are certain things which we need to buy to live, like food and replacement clothes. But before buying anything else I ask myself:
· Do I need it?
· Do we have space for it?
· Is this the cheapest price?
If I answer no to the top 2 questions it doesn’t get bought, and it gets forgotten about. If I only answer no to the bottom question I’ll check it out online and see if I can get it cheaper. At least that way I’m making sure I’m getting the best possible price for it.
I also like to ask myself if I’m likely to ever see it again, but this only really applies to art and sculptures. I’m a bit of a print fiend, I love having beautiful images on the walls, but I know I’ve got too many. But if I see something completely unique that I’ll never find again I will contemplate it, but try to avoid.
Continual self care.
If you maintain a steady level of self care the urge to “treat” yourself through spending will diminish. I’ve written another blog post about self care 10 simple self care ideas in 10 minutes or less which explains why self care is so important, and also another post 101 ideas for simple self care with plenty of ideas of what you can do to improve your self care.
A lot of the things on the list are free, or very cheap. The thing is with self care is that it’s really simple to pay more attention to looking after yourself, and doesn’t have to cost the Earth. Once you’ve tried it, you won’t forget about it again.