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I want it! I need it! But do I have to have it?

Know what you own and know why you own it
– Peter Lynch

So, we’ve just come out of the festive season and apart from it being a season filled with fun, joy, laughter and lots of food, it is also one of the few times during the year that I actually like shopping. I am not huge into shopping, but I’d be lying if I said to you that I don’t think that there’s something oddly exhilarating about choosing the perfect outfit, seeing how well it fits and then pairing it perfectly with some very tasteful accessories. Shopping in this way – especially for clothes – kind of reminds me of playing dress up when I was younger. I used to take the leftover rags of fabric that my mother and sister would leave behind after finishing their various sewing projects and I would try my hand at creating my own fashion masterpiece with those rags. Oh, to be young and innocent!

Now that I am a grown woman, however, I have come to realise that while shopping can be fun and that there is a thrill in buying the latest and trendiest stuff, learning to curb your spending and properly manage your finances is a key stepping stone towards reaching financial stability and security. I think it takes a lot of maturity to show restraint and self-control when it comes learning to use your money wisely so that it can do the most for you. It’s all too easy to give into impulse buys that give us that give us a temporary high and momentary satisfaction but once the euphoria wains, that joy can turn into a nightmare when the debts start piling up!

So, in order to help us all get the most bang for our buck while not breaking the bank, I thought it would be nice to share with you some practical tips that can help you from spendthrift to smart shopper savvy! Now as you always hear me say, I am no expert, know-it-all…expert. I am just a simple girl with common sense, sharing with you practical tips, tricks and advice that I have found work well for me and that I hope will be of some benefit to you.

So, whether you’re a self-professed shopaholic who wants to reign things in for a while, a regular retail therapy type of girl or a frugal consumer, here are a few things you can do to help stretch that paycheck out so that you remain in the black!

1.Use a Money Tracking App
In the early days of our marriage, one of the things that my husband and I realised that we needed to get a hold on very quickly was our budget. We knew that getting a grip on this aspect of our lives early on would help us avoid conflict – especially where money was concerned. Now, I will say that after five years of marriage, we’re still are no experts at handling our finances. At times, we have been guilty of overspending and impulse buying, but, I 100% believe that making the decision to manage our finances wisely from the get-go has helped us make some steady growth in this area of our lives and avoid major conflicts over money. One of the things which we work really hard at trying to do is keeping track of how much money we spend. Years ago, we started using an app called YNAB – You Need A Budget, and since using it, we have never looked back.

The main reason I recommend using an app that tracks how much you’re spending is because this can help you to get a true picture of what your shopping trips are costing you. I swear, there’s something about seeing the written down figures of how much you are actually spending that can really give you a much-needed wake-up call. You may be shocked to see how much you’re actually spending, and this may be the motivation you need to take a long and hard look at areas in which you can be making some savings simply by just spending less. So, the next time you head to the stores, make sure that you armed with an app on your phone that will help you keep track of how much you are spending as you shop. Be sure to enter in your purchases as soon as possible so that you can track your expenses and stay within budget.

 

2.Buy Another Day
One of the things that makes shopping fun is going shopping with your girlfriends. It’s fun to try out stuff together, see what each other is buying and just enjoying the company while performing a pretty mundane task. So, if you enjoy shopping with friends, I say, don’t stop, but perhaps consider just window shopping instead… Look and admire all the pretty little things you would like to buy, but don’t buy any of them just yet. Make a list, or even take pictures of the things which you saw that you liked and then go home and give yourself a couple of days to cool down from all of the excitement.

Now yes, it is possible that during your cooling off period, those earrings which you really liked may get sold out or those awesome jeans that you’ve just absolutely got to have may run out in your size, but the real goal of this exercise is giving yourself the time to evaluate and review if you really need and actually still want to buy the thing you were about to purchase in the first place. Review the list you made for yourself and if at the end of your cooling off period, you decide that you still want to buy what is on your list then by all means, go for it because the chances are that you won’t be making the decision to purchase those items impulsively. But you know what, you’ll probably think that those shiny new shoes or that cool new phone aren’t quite so appealing anymore and the best thing about that is that you have saved yourself a couple of bucks. Either way, you win!

3.Psychoanalyze Yourself
And I don’t mean going crazy with introspection or and intricately dissecting your every move. When I say psychoanalyze yourself, I mean take some time to work out why you shop so often and why you spend so much because this may be the key to stopping yourself from doing it. Taking the time to figure out why it is that you act the way you do won’t only help your wallet, but it will also help your overall wellbeing as a person. I think that it is a beneficial practice to periodically take some time out to figure out why we act the way we do in certain situations. For example, is fear a lot of what drives why you shop and spend so much? Did you perhaps grow up not having much, so now you over-compensate for your needy past by shopping a lot and owning a lot of stuff? Do you tend to shop a lot when you’re bored and feeling aimless or do you typically shop when you feel down or emotional? Take the time to do some soul-searching and see what you find. It may mean having to see a therapist or a trained professional who can help you work through your baggage, but I think that the long-term results – both for your budget and for your soul – will be worth the work.

4.Deal with Your Debts
It is my humble opinion that debt is one of the most lethal experiences that a person can go through. If left unchecked, debt has the destructive power to end marriages and take lives. In hindsight, I now count myself blessed enough to have grown up in a home where I got to experience the annihilating force of debt first hand, although, as a kid going through bank repossessions, evictions and even having the electricity and water turned off, I did not think of myself as particularly “favoured” by the Lord. I now choose to see those experiences as a positive thing because it taught me from a young age about the importance of learning to handle your money well and to take debt very, very seriously!

My husband and I are of the school of thought that debt should be avoided at all cost but, if for some reason or other, you land up in a situation where you find yourself in debt, then it is critical for you to try and get out of it as soon as possible.

Call your bank and set up a time where the two of you can sit down and plan a way forward. Don’t worry about saving just yet and certainly avoid buying anything on credit. If you take the time to pay off your debts and repair your credit score with repair.credit, then you will have taken a huge step towards earning the financial security and freedom that we all long for. There’s no feeling quite like being debt-free and totally in control of your finances and ridding yourself debt it will give you extra incentive to curb the frivolous spending sprees.

5.Clear the Clutter
A funny thing happens when you clear the clutter from your home and from your closet. Actually taking the time to periodically go through your wardrobe and evaluate what you have in there can sometimes be a pretty good way of giving yourself a reality check. As you go through all of your clothes, you will probably start to notice just how much stuff you’ve bought over the last couple of years and you may be alarmed to find just how much of that stuff has been flung in a drawer and left unused or worn. Doing this exercise regularly may help you realize just how pointless some of your shopping trips really are and that in turn could serve you as a powerful deterrent against senseless shopping sprees, thus saving you a pretty penny.

Also, if you decide that you still really do need to go clothes shopping, then perhaps try and develop the habit of creating space for the new, incoming clothes that you want to buy by getting rid of some of the old things that are just sitting around your wardrobe. This helps you avoid hoarding and clutter and it helps you ensure that you always have a practical wardrobe filled with clothes that you actually like and enjoy wearing as opposed to a closet full of stuff that pretty much never sees the light of day because you seldom wear what is inside of it.

Oh, and just as a side note, giving is a great way to boost one’s happiness and to make a difference in the world. There are numerous organizations or even your local thrift store who would be all too happy to receive your old stuff and give them to people who really need and appreciate it, so when clearing out your closet, be sure to pay some kindness forward and give to those who are in need.

 

6.Leave the Cards Behind
Personally, this is something that we trying to do more of because we have seen the positive results that it has on our budget when we do. The simple truth of the matter is that it is harder to overspend if you leave your credit cards behind and take only cash with you. I know that sometimes, shopping trips can just spring up on you and you may find yourself in a situation where you need to make an unforeseen stop at the grocery store – that’s ok. It happens. Just make sure that you head to the store using a money tracking app of your choice so that you can still keep on top of your finances.

 

However, if you can, try and plan your trip to the grocery store in advance and come prepared to shop off of your list using only the money you have in your pocket. Draw out a sensible amount beforehand and tell yourself that once the money is gone, it’s gone. The psychology this approach is that spending actual physical money should be enough to make you act more sensibly as you shop and basically curb those sneaky impulsive buys!

In closing, I want to say one last thing – be patient with yourself in this process. Learning to be responsible with money is going to be a lifelong journey and sometimes, you will make mistakes, so don’t beat yourself up when you do make a mistake. Rather, learn from where you went wrong and set out with a wiser resolve to doing better in future. Also, there is nothing wrong with treating yourself from time to time, but just be smart and mindful of your money as you pamper yourself. I hope that as you put these ideas into action, that your shopping trips will still be fun. May your wallet be as full as your cart as you learn to shop smart and may you break the bad shopping habits that makes you so much poorer than you need to be!

1. The face behind the blog…

Dents In My Crown creator, Rachel Baskin, is a:
Wife. Mother. Lover.
Chocolate addict.
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Unapologetic truth-sayer.
Wearer of many hats.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg!
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