Thursday, 3 March 2016

THOUGHTS ON: How To Tackle A Spending Problem

One of the best things I did for myself in 2015 was making the decision to wake up to my unhealthy spending habits and to start making proper use of my savings account.

In fact from 2013 to August of last year, I was never out of my overdraft for long. Like anyone who's developed an addiction to anything, I was pretty unaware of my problem for a good while; I always had an excuse, and almost always managed to keep things together just enough so that things never spiralled too far out of control. I never had a credit card and my overdraft is a very small one, but every now and again I dipped into my savings and gradually depleted them to a third of what they once were.

February marked six months of hard saving; while I still had the occasional wobble (December, I'm looking at you) I have managed to put aside a healthy percentage of my earnings each month without fail and, touch wood, it looks like my spending habits are finally under control... But I honestly wish this were a subject that was discussed more online, especially as we bloggers tend to focus on spending rather than on saving.

So today I'm doing my bit, and giving you my tried and tested advice on how to tackle a spending problem. These range from the purely practical to the mental side of spending as well... Let's dive in.


You've probably heard this one before, but as your loving Auntie Anna, I'm going to tell you it again anyway... Unfollow the brand accounts you have on social media (yes, Instagram, Facey B, Snapchat - the whole shebang). Unsubscribe to email newsletters and to any physical junk mail. You really don't need them. Delete any shopping specific apps and delete any bookmarks on your computer; if your tabs open to frequent pages, set it to a blank tab; in fact this is one of my favourite tips from this post.

Cleansing your social media channels from brand presence is all well and good, but the next step can be a little tougher; find a way to manage your biggest enablers. All of mine were online, so I made the decision to unfollow any bloggers, YouTubers or Instagram accounts that were setting off my spending itch. I also stopped watching haul videos and I can't say I miss them.

If your enablers are people in your life, have a conversation with them explaining you need to stop spending as much. If done in an open and honest way, I have every confidence that they will understand.

Lastly for this section, check yourself. If you find yourself sharing things you've bought on your social media, break that habit: those likes and comments feed into the buzz that you have trained your brain to feel when you buy something. Try not to enable friends and family, as doing so will attract that behaviour back to you. This all may sound a bit strange but it does make a difference.


It's easy to feel like not spending opens a huge void in your life... I know, I've been there. Those Amazon deliveries felt like presents from me, to me. What on earth was going to fill that space?

The answer was, of course, saving. Saving for something that really mattered. Choose on something you want to save up for; having a concrete goal makes setting that money aside so much easier. Then open your savings account or start using your existing one properly; bear in mind that saving will also be much easier if you open an account that isn't easily withdrawn from online or on your phone.

Work out your budget at the start of each month. Be conservative but still try and be realistic. I found that I would tend to forget putting in enough to see friends and for birthdays, so always have these in your mind when working out your prediction of how much you will need. Then as soon as your pay comes in, transfer whatever amount you've decided to set aside straight into your savings account. You will then be left with what you need for that month.

Where possible, do away with monthly subscriptions. I don't currently have a Netflix account or a Spotify account, and it was only was I knew I could afford to that I signed up for Adobe's Creative Cloud version of Photoshop.

Feel proud as your savings increase. In fact, I remember watching a documentary that said saving money releases those same endorphins that spending does (so sorry I can't find a link to it!). Now I end up feeling a very real guilt on the odd occasion that I do buy something unnecessary. It's amazing how the mind can completely switch, but persist and you will find that it does.


I believe that this section is the real reason why I've not relapsed, where other attempts failed. This advice goes a little deeper but yielded the biggest results for me.

For me, everything changed when I watched The True Cost. It's a powerful documentary on the fast fashion industry, but it was the catalyst I need to start actively exploring minimalism amongst other things. Question who made what you are buying. Are they being fairly treated, with a decent wage? I also loved this episode of the Lively Show, when I first heard about the zero waste lifestyle. It further opened my eyes to how damaging mindless consumption is to our world.

And don't forget to notice the emotional side of your spending habits. Become aware of when you spend; is it when you are down, or bored? Are your purchases linked to your self image? Working out why you spend makes it so easier to get to the root of the issue.

Lastly, notice that spending comedown. I found that I was tying huge amounts of emotional baggage to each purchase, always hoping that they would change my life in some way. None ever made me happier; instead I would simply shift to the next thing I wanted and start obsessing over how that would change me. Each item came with a particular sense of disappointment. I don't miss it.

I now see myself as being on the other side of my spending problem. These measures might be a permanent thing for you or perhaps some are temporary; either way I encourage you to give them a go!

Is there anything you think I have missed? This is one of those subjects I can't get enough of hearing about so any advice or further resources would be hugely welcome!


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