When we hear the word 'shopaholic', we remember Sophie Kinsella's hilarious heroine, Rebecca Bloomwood, from the Confessions of a Shopaholic. One look at her wardrobe is enough to make us jealous. Having access to a seemingly endless sea of shoes, clothes and beauty products is almost every girl's dream come true. And there's absolutely no problem with investing in your dream wardrobe — if you can afford it.
Once in our lives, we may have jokingly referred to ourselves as 'shopaholics', but the truth is it's not an issue that we should laugh about. Just like any other condition with the suffix '-holic', being a shopaholic means having an addiction that should be reflected upon before it's too late and you have a 5-digit credit card bill that you can't pay for.
According to Donald Black from his 2007 study on compulsive buying disorder
, some of the symptoms of having a compulsive buying disorder are having a sense of overwhelming urge to shop that can only be appeased by purchasing the coveted item, intense excitement in the anticipation of shopping that almost feels orgasmic, frequent buying of bargain products with questionable quality just to satisfy urges, and finally "a sense of let down or disappointment with oneself" after the high from the purchase wears off. And of course, what do you do when you feel down? Shop again. Thus, the circle of debt.
As Coco Chanel once said, "The best things in life are free and the second best things are very, very expensive." If you simply don't have the money, then you need to have the discipline to manage your finances. Here are few tips you can try.
Set A Monthly Budget
The first step is to determine the amount of your basic monthly bills; this includes rent, cellular phone charges, utilities, food, personal grooming and medicine, among others. Next is to determine the amount of your basic indulges and see which ones you can cut off. For example, you don't need to order a macchiato everyday if you can get your caffeine fix at home or in your office's pantry. This is where you have to be honest with yourself in determining which of your purchases are unnecessary.
When this month's payroll comes, withdraw the amount that you need to cover the basic monthly bills and a reasonable amount of personal allowances for your wants. This way, you'll limit yourself to a certain amount to spend rather than taking frequent trips to the ATM or swiping your credit card aimlessly.
Always Have A Margin Of Safety
When you're still young and single, it's easy to justify frivolous purchases because you'll reason out that payday is on its way. So it's totally acceptable to drain your savings account to pay for that shiny, new bag. The words 'You deserve it' and 'Treat yourself' are whispering in your ears, pushing you to buy the thing that you've always wanted. While it's okay to indulge in treats from time to time as a personal reward for your hard work, it's a different thing to give in to impulse. This will cause you to sacrifice your savings or worse, fall into the habit of not saving at all.
Savings are important because they provide you with a margin of safety just in case any situation comes up. Let's face it, we never really know what the future will bring. You may be living your best life now, but you'll never know when the tables will turn. There are so many things that are out of our control but money shouldn't be one of it. A good way to treat yourself is pre-set a reward once you reached a goal, not deciding on the reward after. For example, if you finish this project, you'll treat yourself to a new lipstick. This will motivate you in reaching your goal, and the added benefit is that it's a premeditated reward, something that you really want and something that you really earned.
Use Credit Cards Wisely
It's not really wise to give up the use of credit cards altogether. Yes, you may want to give up on having multiple credit cards; one or two credit cards with a decent amount of credit limit is already enough. The key is to limit the things you purchase with your cards. A good rule of thumb is to use credit cards only on purchases that you'll remember. Some examples would be an airplane fare, an appliance, a gadget or just about any purchase that you're very sure you won't forget to pay.
Avoid using your credit cards on small things like toothbrushes, stationery materials or anything that you can pay for with cash since these small purchases can add up and rack up interests. Also, don't save your credit card information on any online shopping website. Not only is this dangerous, but it will also make it easier for you to give in to online impulse purchases, making insensible debt just three clicks away.
Don't Live A Life That You Can't Afford
Being a shopaholic doesn't necessarily mean that your impulses are limited to shopping, sometimes it extends to other areas of your life. Being a shopaholic can easily become a lifestyle, too. Here's a simple truth that you have to embrace: sometimes, you have to say no to social activities that leave you spending money way beyond what you earn. Those regular morning brunches are great, but can you really afford it or are you just basically wasting money that can be diverted to your savings?
We all dream of the Instagram-perfect life where you sleep in silk pillowcases, have a premium gym membership, get the latest trends and get spotted at the hottest clubs, but behind the glamour is a pile of money. Again, if you don't have it yet it's not the end of the world. You can still build a good financial future and from there build it up till you can confidently have mimosas everyday sans the spending guilt and the money anxiety.
Aside from your savings, it's good to have investments that can give financial benefits in the long run. You can consult with a financial advisor on what the best investments for you are depending on your assets and your long-term goals. Diverting your money into investments will give you a better financial standing and better control of your money. Time-deposits and mutual funds are just a couple of the more popular investment choices. But be sure to seek advice from a tried and tested financial advisor before you make any move.
(Cover photo from: @barbiestyle)
Having to skip on a few social gatherings to save money can make you feel some serious FOMO. Click here to learn how to deal with it.