What have you achieved since lockdown? I’ve managed to work toward my money goal of paying off my credit card debt and repairing the credit score that I undoubtedly trashed during my youth. Frankly, I’ve made a ton of headway and am very close to hitting my previous goals, while deciding on new ones.
For once, I felt good about my finances…so I went on a very illogical shopping spree with all of the ‘extra’ money I was making. I gave myself fully into the ‘treat yourself’ culture, and then some. Maybe you’ve noticed something similar going on as well. While everything was falling apart on the outside, I thought, at least I have my pretty things. It gave me joy to open little ‘gifts’ I’d get myself throughout the weeks. Naturally, I needed almost none of it, but I deserved a little something for a kickass workweek, right?
I found myself surrounded by things, and wondering in a sudden sober fog, how long I could actually sustain this? Have you been spending extra money since the pandemic? You’re definitely not alone. An Ibotta survey found quite a large spike in spending throughout most of the U.S. in the beauty category. Yup, I’m guilty of this as well, and hadn’t even noticed until I started organizing my beauty and skincare hauls and saw all of the products that were still in their original packaging just sitting in my office, collecting dust. I knew I needed to change things.
Here’s what I did to try and fix my bad habits.
Gain Financial Literacy
Getting an understanding of my finances, and preparing for my financial future became major long-term goals for me. So, I poured myself into podcasts like “Women & Money,” “The David Bach Show,” “Secrets of Wealthy Women” and “Afford Anything,” and started applying different tactics to curb my lockdown splurging, for good.
I made a list of different topics related to money that I wanted to research on my own time. Continuing this habit of learning, and discovering so many new things about money that I hadn’t known about before eventually lead me to open a retirement account, learn about investing and open a brokerage account. Oh yes, and I actually know what I’m doing most of the time, which has really helped me feel more confident about myself as well as my finances.
The first thing you need to know about money is that you don’t know what you don’t know. Finances can often seem very intimidating, but it’s only because we don’t often confront these terms. You need to get comfortable with learning about money, and seeing it in a more positive light.
Make It Difficult
OK, this might sound crazy, but stay with me for a minute. I erased all of my previously saved credit and debit card information from my most-shopped stores. I also signed out of my PayPal account and made it so that I would need to go through any annoying amount of authentication to make a single purchase. Why? Because it forced me to actually take time to think about whether or not this specific purchase was worthy of spending my time on. If the purchase was worth it, then I was happy to pull my wallet out and enter my information.
I spent way less money online once I made it harder for myself to shop. If it takes effort, we become a lot more skeptical about the spending decisions we are making. Is getting that chic wallet that just went on sale as important when you realize that you need to fetch your credit card from downstairs at 1 a.m.? No. One-click purchases are so convenient, even dangerously so when you are trying to cut back on spending.
When you are just starting to learn about financial wellness, and you’re making these big decisions, it can easily feel overwhelming. This is a money journey, not a race. Don’t feel pressured to meet certain goals or start something new before you’re comfortable. Trust your gut with your money, it’s usually right. At 29 years old, I was just learning about a Roth IRA, and I felt like I was so far behind. Making any kind of significant difference in your finances takes time.
These days, it’s very easy for us to find comfort in physical items. Sometimes, it feels like that all we have to look forward to. I based so much of my happiness on unveiling new products to add to my stockpile. Instead, I decided that anytime I craved ‘stuff,’ I would think about throwing the money into an experience rather than a product.
Using money toward experiences rather than items leads to more long-term happiness. Plus, you will always have memories to look back on through those experiences. Physical items often make us happy for a few minutes until we turn our attention to the next brightest and newest item.
Featured + main image via Pinterest