We’re often told that to save money we need to make sacrifices. We need to cut the objectively ‘unnecessary’ expenses to save our money for what ‘should’ be our financial priorities – a house, bills and a couple of weeks of holidays a year.
But this is a load of crap.
You can decide what your financial priorities are and yes, one of them can be shopping. If shopping is something you love you don’t need to cut it. You can save money and go shopping. Truly. It’s possible.
Most of the money advice we’re told forgets that if you like doing something, you’re probably going to keep doing it unless you have a really good reason not to. And for most of us, there’s no seriously compelling reason. We want the clothes more than we want to be ‘good at saving’.
So instead of trying to ‘ban’ things (which only make me want to do them more), I’ve been embracing the fact I love doing certain things with my money and trying to figure out a way I can keep doing them while meeting my other goals.
My goal is to travel at the end of the year and for that I need money (especially since Australia is so far away from everything!). But I also just got my first ‘real’ job and would really love to buy some pretty dresses for work.
So how can I save money and go shopping? Like most problems, there’s a solution if you look hard enough. And even better, the solution doesn’t make me feel that sense of lack that drives me to go on a shopping spree (despite my best efforts).
So how am I doing it?
1. I’m still going shopping
Ground breaking, right? To save money without giving up shopping I still go shopping.
But even though it seems so obvious, I know a lot of people who LOVE shopping (and who will definitely end up going shopping at some point anyway) that try to avoid it. They try to use good old ‘self-discipline’ to curb their shopping habits. And to an extent this does work, if you’re not in the store you’re a lot less likely to spend money. But really the fix is only temporary – if you love shopping you are going to do it. Embrace it.
2. I only buy things I love
This is super important – I still go shopping whenever I want but I don’t run around like a mad woman grabbing every bargain I see.
I only buy the things I LOVE.
I find this is easier when I go shopping often (once every week or so) because I don’t get that feeling that I have to buy everything I love right there and then. It gives me a feeling of abundance and that I’ll be able to find it again if I still want it.
I know that whenever I start umming and ahhing about something in the change room it means I shouldn’t buy it, and almost every time I don’t (I’m not perfect).
And when I slip up (and I notice it) I make the effort to return the item. Even if it didn’t cost very much or I do kind of maybe like it and I might maybe possibly be able to wear it, that’s money I’d rather put towards another purchase and it also keeps my wardrobe from getting dragged down by items I don’t love.
(If you’re not sure if you should return something, a good question to ask is ‘if I didn’t already own this, how much would I pay for it?’ We naturally have a bias towards things we already own).
3. I have money set aside just for shopping
This is another really important thing – I have a spending plan. I put aside money that I can spend guilt-free on clothes and accessories and whatever else I want.
You might be reading this and thinking that you don’t possibly have enough money to put aside some cash just for shopping. But I would like to put it to you that if you ever find yourself spending money shopping then yes, you do have money to put aside.
One of the things with shopping is that, if you love it, you’re probably going to spend money on it regardless of whether you’ve put that money aside or if you have to pull it from that savings account you’re not meant to touch. So why not put money aside for shopping and enjoy it guilt-free?
For me, this amount of money is $40 per week. This could sound like nothing to you or it could be heaps. But remember, the point of this is trying to meet two goals at once (travel and shopping) and at the moment, this amount is allowing me to do both.
If you want to find out more about how I figured out how much money to put aside see this post (I take it from my ‘play’ account).
4. I stick to my spending plan
Having guilt-free shopping money comes with one little condition – that is the total you can spend on shopping. For you that could be $20, $100 or $500 a week. But no mattter what it is, this whole thing really only works well if you stick to your spending plan. Don’t forget – this is about shopping and saving put together (because you probably already know how to shop without saving).
And that’s one of the reasons it’s important to be honest with your spending plan. Don’t make it so little that you constantly find yourself dipping into savings. Play around with it and try to find an amount that you can stick to that doesn’t make you feel a sense of lack.
5. I do my best to be grateful for the things I already have
This one is kind of huge too.
Spending money on clothes makes you want to spend more money on clothes. Your appetite grows as you have more and more and you get to a point (pretty quickly) where you don’t even appreciate anything you buy because, almost the second you buy it, you’re already thinking about what you want to buy next.
I’ve been making the effort to be grateful for the clothes, make up, jewellery, shoes, bags, hats and belts I already have. When I’m honest with myself, I have quite a lot of things. And at some point in time I bought those items and I was pretty damn happy about it.
So I try to savour a new purchase a little more than I normally might. And I try to catch myself when I get into that ‘more is more is more’ feeling, especially whenever I’m looking on Instagram and seeing my favourite bloggers in an amazing new outfit everyday.
What do you think?
Do you struggle with saving money because of your love of shopping? Have you ever thought about whether there’s a way you can embrace both?
Don’t forget that comments are always welcome and appreciated – I’d LOVE to hear what you think!