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How I Kicked My Shopping Addiction

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You guys…do we all have crazy shopping addictions?!?!?!

Apparently so, because after I did that whole Assumption Q+A on my Stories the other day my DM’s were flooded with questions on how I finally kicked my bad [shopping] habit. So here’s the honest truth: Paul is a finance major and after living together for a few years and things started heading in a more serious direction (aka I was pressuring him to propose), he took an interest in my finances. I think up until that point he viewed us as separate adults living life under one roof. Fair. I was perfectly happy with this, as I knew that once he caught wind of my spending and bad financial situation some serious changes would need to take place.

Basically this is what I was like back in 2010: I had a mediocre salary that covered my core bills (ie: rent, car, insurance, phone, etc.) and maybe a few hundred $$ left over. I probably should have put that extra money into a savings account, but no, any left over dollar back then meant a cocktail, Starbucks, new bikini, lipstick, dinner, etc. The concept of saving anything was lost on me. I had one credit card at the time with a relatively low limit (thankfully so) so my spending couldn’t really exceed outside of my means tooooo much. There was only so much I could buy on my CC, but when I did, I would take 15,000 years to pay it off because like I said, any left over money after bills meant “fun” money.

There is still a little of Old Sivan Spending in New Sivan Spending. Meaning, I like to enjoy life and treat myself once in a while. I work hard, so why not enjoy my money while I’m still alive, right? Of course, now I also save like a mother fucker, pay off my credit cards every month, contribute to my retirement account yearly, invest, etc. It’s all about….you guessed it, balance.

So, how did things change? Well, like I said, Paul threatened me and then we made an action plan. Here it is:

+ Go through all of my bank and credit card statements to figure out where I was spending the most money. It was primarily on food–restaurant, cocktails, groceries. Shopping came next, duh.

+ Make a budget. I was not excited about this whatsoever. Paul told me to start with putting away 10% of my income into a savings account every time I got paid. That meant if I had no left over money after bills I would need to make a cut somewhere. Things like: lowering my phone bill to a lesser plan, consolidating student loans, meal planning, NO MORE STARBUCKS, and abso-fuckin-lutely zero shopping. It also meant no more manicures, expensive hair appointments, frivolous purchases, etc. You know, just cutting out all the unnecessary [best] things that add up.

+ Switching into a different frame of mind about spending. Sure, that manicure (back in 2010) might only be $12 but add the tip and now you’re spending the same amount on a manicure as you would some groceries (TJ’s premade / frozen meals are the shit if you’re ballin on a budget), which is a necessity. Little things ADD UP, and today I still struggle with this. Yeah, $3.99 delivery for groceries sounds fab, but all the extra fees, taxes, and groceries end up costing way more than just going myself. Today I can afford it, but I know I’m ultimately wasting a good chunk of money out of convenience. When you’re broke, get your ass up and go to the store.

+ Use cash or debit for your fun spending. I failed at this time and time again because I suck at math and would never be able to keep track of how much I have and how much my shopping cart worth of items would come to. Instead, I was just super strict about my budget and only used my debit card, which is essentially the same as cash. What you have in the account is all you have. {And don’t worry, I’ve paid my fair share of overdraft protection fees in my lifetime…those will suck you even drier}.

+ Close retail credit cards. I made the mistake of opening one of those for the discount but what it’s doing is screwing up your credit. I got a ding on my score for a new inquiry, a ding to my score for more debt, and a ding on my score the longer that debt sat there. AND, another ding to my score once I eventually closed the account. Instead I opened 2 that actually made sense for my spending and lifestyle. This was not only good for my credit, but I started accumulating points that turned into $$$.

+ Set a goal. Yes, cheesy and obvious, but effective. I set a goal to save $10,000.00 for a trip in my savings account. {Meanwhile, that’s not the purpose of savings lol, but it gets the mind in the right place}. As I inched closer and closer to that goal saving started to become addicting. I would look forward to that monthly or bi-monthly transfer and watching that number grow is honestly so rewarding. So rewarding, in fact, that when I hit the damn goal I was over the trip and just wanted to keep the money. Cha-ching!

+ The addiction is real. I honestly think that part is what got me to change my ways. The thrill of transferring money to my savings account. Even now I look forward to it. You start to really shift your thinking and the way you spend when you have a savings.

+ Treat yourself in moderation. Don’t get me wrong, I love a new Gucci bag, but as long as my bills are paid and I’ve put money away in my savings (I aim to save at least 50% of my income now), that is the only time I will splurge. Life is expensive as is. I go to Target for laundry soap and leave with $270 worth of greeting cards…I mean, that shit adds up!

The moral of the story is this: Don’t live beyond your means. It may require you to take a hiatus from your social life. Less boozy brunches, less happy hour, less coffee dates, less GNO at nice restaurants, less Gucci, less $5.10 chai, less manicures, less pilates. But I promise you, when you can afford it all it will feel so much better. Just tell your friends that you’re channeling the New Sivan Spending life and you just can’t. They should understand and support you and hopefully get on the same page!! You won’t lose sleep over money troubles, you won’t dread picking up the phone to debt collectors (been there); instead you’ll get a sick thrill from watching your money grow. Promise.

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