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