How to Control Your Spending

(By the “expert” who occasionally spends millions of pounds on Pokémon cards)

Impulse purchase from last weekend.
Impulse purchase from last weekend.

The two days after pay day are the best two days of my month. Because as soon as that money hits my bank account I’m free to throw £20 notes around on takeaways, face paints for Halloween that I didn’t really need and cute Christmas decorations that will improve my quality of life significantly. I’m free to buy as many fancy coffees as I like and “treat myself” because in that moment I’m the richest girl alive.

Only I’m not. I am not rich. I simply make a decision to pretend I’m rolling in cash, when, in reality, I should be saving for a mortgage or a holiday. Because even though having fourteen Starbucks cappuccinos seems amazing in theory, it is not better than doing big things with money. Important life things. Amazing experiences which you’ll never ever forget.

Also, getting to the end of the month and not being able to go out to the pub when you’re friends ask you is incredibly disappointing.

So, how do you stop yourself from throwing money around like it’s water? How do you stop yourself from having a mini heart-attack when you see your bank balance?

I can’t say I’ve mastered all (or any) of this yet, but here are a few tips I find helpful when I’m tempted to buy all the stuffed pandas in IKEA. My house would look so cool with all the pandas…
 

Make a Wishlist

I went through a phase this year where I wanted everything. Everything. I’d spend my wage in advance in my head, I’d buy things as soon as I wanted them. Book by author I like a little bit. I’d buy it. Packs of Pokemon cards. I’d buy them. Decorative birthday sash for my cardboard cutout of Chewbacca. Bought and paid for with a simple tap of my bank card.

Then, a few months after I’d bought all these wonderful things I’d realise something… I didn’t need to be buying this much. As much as I liked coming home with bags and bags of books, DVDs and other things, there was no way I’d have time to read/use them all that month. There was no need to buy them all at once just because they were there. So I started making a wish list.

You may be thinking ‘Why’ because, to be honest, a wish list sounds like a step into even more dangerous territory. A wish list sounds like you’re scouring the Argos catalogue for more shit you don’t need, and regularly torturing yourself by looking through said list.

But it isn’t.

I make a wish list to stop myself from buying things. Instead of making “evil impulse purchases” I write it down the desired item on my wish list. Then, I leave it there for a while before deciding whether to buy it. This allows me to think more about it, and then, if I don’t want it a few months later, I can cross it off. Money saved.

 

Cut Your Bank Card Into Pieces Leave Your Bank Card at Home

This is probably the scariest statement someone can make in the modern world. I mean, your bank card?! You may as well tell them to grab a fork drag their brain out and leave it on the sofa.

But it’s not such a silly thought. Having access to “unlimited” funds at all times may feel safe, but when you start tapping and buying at every opportunity, those funds will soon deplete. And, if you’re trying to save up for really awesome things, the day before pay day will be a disappointing one.

Instead of taking your life-savings out on day trips, just get out the cash you need (and a spare ten for emergencies and take the excessive spending out of each day.

And no, a pursed shaped like an owl that matches every outfit you own can not be classed as an emergency.
 

Avoid Shops

FOREVER!

Just kidding.

So, every day I get the bus to work and every day I change buses in the city centre. Most evenings, I have half an hour free before my next bus is due, and when you’re free in a city centre what do you do? You shop.

So many purchases, usually unnecessary, have been made during this frustrating half an hour wait time. And I could easily have stopped it if I’d have not gone into the shopping centre, or Waterstones, or Gregg’s bakery (this is actually unavoidable, so don’t expect to be able to run away from a cream bun).

If you’ve got a long wait for a bus, or a friend, or for Jeremy Kyle to just reveal who the father is, for Heaven’s sake, then do something different. Find a bench. Read. Play Pokemon Go. Write a blog post on your phone. Plan your weekend. Because it’s way better than blowing all your money on Cornish pasties.
 

Make a Non-Wishy List

If you’re on a shopping trip with a mission, make sure you make a list of what you’re going to buy and stick to it. There’s nothing worse than going out to get specific things, and coming home with ten dresses, six shirts and none of the things you set out to get. I mean, have ten new dresses and six new shirts is lovely, but when you have to eat dry bread for tea because you forgot to buy ham, it’s never good. And dresses just don’t taste the same.

I’ve done this so many times.

 

Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself

If you occasionally end up coming home with 6 million bags and a bank account emptier than Tywin Lannister’s heart, don’t sweat it. These things happen. And by “things”, I mean the majority of things that sneaked their way into my wardrobe, bookcase and cupboards. There are a lot. Too many. I should be ashamed.
 
How do you stop yourself from buying all the nice things? Let me know in the comments; I’ll just be “browsing” the Internet for necklaces I don’t need…

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7 Comments

  1. It can be very hard to not buy stuff! I used to be pretty bad about it before, but now I think I’ve learnt to limit myself. I’ll buy what i really want, and if it’s something I don’t need or want, then I don’t need to buy it. I also mentally calculate the prices in my head and ask myself, “Can I afford it this month or can it wait?” I also measure by what I need now. Do I need new slacks for work? Yes, because I can’t go to work without them! Do I need this series of book? Maybe not now, but I can get them later because it’s not a priority.

    I also reward myself for special things. Like when I knew I’d be starting my new job, I splurged on a designer brand purse because I wanted one for a long time and I found one I wanted. It was also a reward to myself, and even better that I found a huge discount on it. Plus, I only had plans to buy one designer purse because I certainly don’t need more than one!

    Now, I just need to better manage my money when it comes to socialising and eating out XD;;;

  2. I’m still struggling my spending but the way I spent was going behind my husband’s back and lying about it. I hated myself, but after working a few days, I came to understand why it was so hurtful. Good tips

  3. I love the whole “treat yourself” mentality! It makes me feel justified buying anything XD. It’s fine to believe that you’re rolling in cash as long as you have some cash and don’t go in debt. Having a wishlist is a good way of controlling your spending. That way, you have something to focus on and anything outside the wishlist needs reconsidering :’). I’ve seen tips on carrying cash instead of paying with a card. That way, you physically see the money there. Only issue I have is no credit card rewards XD. Nothing wrong with window shopping 🙂

  4. I think that’s good that you found a way to stop impulse purchases 🙂 My friend does something similar where he won’t buy something right away, then a week later, if he’s still thinking about it, he’ll buy it. If he forgot about it in a week, that means he didn’t really want it. I started taking that stance on things too!

    I also make online wishlists because every year, my family wonders what to buy me for birthday or Christmas. I’d rather they get something off my wishlist instead of guessing what I might want. I just keep that in mind and don’t purchase anything I put on the list.

    I used to buy games off of Steam like crazy too, but now I ask myself, will I play this immediately after buying it? If the answer is no, I stop myself. There will always Steam sales, and I don’t really need my backlog to grow more.

    As I grow older, I find that I hate clutter more and more. The more things I buy, the more space they take up in the house. I have been wanting to buy less things because of that!

  5. I’ve written a few posts about how to clean your wardrobe, including this one about how to shop smarter for amore minimal wardrobe, and some of your tips ring true! Especially the one about writing a list. I always keep a list of things I either really want, or even just want a bit. And when I go to the shops and get tempted to buy something else, I take myself back to my list. Do I really need what I just grabbed off the rack? I only came here to buy a pair of socks, right?

    I tend to shop for need rather than want. And if I really want something, I usually sit on it for a week or two and ask myself if I am going to use it. I did just buy a teapot but I knew I was going to use it at work, so… 😛

    I generally try to avoid shops as well. When I went to Perth last weekend I found myself wanting to buy things as soon as I went into shops. It’s like a trap. 😞 I used to kill time by going to the shops but I always, always ended up buying something. Hell of a pain in the butt, I tell you. 😆 So that’s a good tip.

    On the note of Starbucks though, sometimes I do value a good warm (or cold) drink, and I make sure I enjoy the drink so it’s $5 well spent. 😛

  6. You have some good tips here. I’ve pretty much always been good with money because that’s how I wad brought up. When I’m shopping I am very picky. I ask myself if it’s something I need or just something I want. If I’m shopping for clothes I make sure I’m completely in love with it first, otherwise I put it back.

    The problem I have is not spending enough on myself. I find it so hard to buy things for myself that I don’t need. I rarely go shopping unless I need to, which is only every three of four months. But when I do spend money, I find it hard to stop. I guess it’s really just about self control.

  7. I find it really hard not to buy stuff but often the things I buy aren’t for me and are gifts for friends or family. Also I spend a lot a month on Tesco meal deals for lunch at work when I should make my lunch at home, which will be healthier and a lot cheaper.

    I have a wishlist of things I want or need to buy. Like clothes. I am down to one jumper as my others I bought about 4 years ago now have holes in the armpits!! Oops.

    I’m always quick to spend my money at the start of the month leaving very little to do anything with at the end of it. 🙁

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