Budget and diet are two words that more often than not elicit a sense of dread in people. Being reminded that we need to watch our spending, or watch our waistlines when there are temptation lurking in every corner makes ‘budgeting’ or ‘dieting’ an uncomfortable exercise of will. I see many parallels between budgeting and dieting. There are things you just ‘gotta have’, right? Whether it be another pair of designer denim, or that majestic looking chocolate cheesecake that taunts you from the bakery’s window.
Chances are, we’ve all been there. Or at least I don’t think I’m alone in this. I for one am not immune when I see the ‘sale’ sign hanging in front of displays, or when I open up my email and I see ‘sale’ from stores I subscribe to. Who doesn’t love a bargain? Whether it be an end of season sale or buy two slices of pizza and we’ll throw in a soft drink for free. You might very well give in to your urges, only to realize after you’ve made the purchase, or wolfed down those two gigantic slices of pizza that you’ve made a horrible mistake.
Your stomach might twist because you’d just dropped your hard earned cash like that (or because you’ve ate those two slices of pizza way too fast and now you’ve got a stomach ache. See the parallels?)
The first step to overcoming any problem is admitting that you have a problem.
i. Admit that you have a problem.
Incidents of unnecessary spending might flood back into your mind at this point. Then, you might start wondering where you’re going wrong – what is causing these unfortunate incidents? Is it the advertisements or is it something internal instead? Are you perhaps utilizing retail therapy or chocolate too often?
ii. Pinpoint the root of the problem.
Now that you’ve got the root of the problem pinpointed, it’s time to personalize the solution, is it an internal thing (stress?) or an external thing (that SALE sign just happened to be in your way!! And you can’t walk around it bummer.) :
iii. Come up with a relevant solution!!!
If the problem’s internal, as in it bubbled from stress or emotions, then it is important to address these issues accordingly. Going for a walk (it really helps!), writing it down in a journal, talking to a family member about it. If the problem’s external, then read on.
Personally, I’ve got a problem with shopping when I’m stressed out. I’m more tempted to shop for clothes online during periods of perceived high stress (ex: typing up reports for school, studying for exam etc.) or utter boredom. So I came up with a list of criteria that the item in question must pass in order to be considered purchasable.
1. Do you really need it? (or are you responding to this ‘sale’ stimulus because you don’t want to miss out on a bargain? But wait, chances are that pair of cut out leather shoes and midnight black motto jeans are similar to something you already have in your closet, and even if you don’t have something like it in your closet, think of all the items of clothing you’re neglecting as result of impulse buys, not mentioning the new clothes that are still in their bags…)
2. Is it compatible with your lifestyle? (Or is it more of a trend you’re following? Everyone’s doing floral print so you want floral print as well? Where and when do you plan on wearing it? How many times? Here you want to assess if its gonna be 300 dollars 1 time wear, or 1000 dollars regular wear for the next five years of your life – a timeless classic piece you’d pass onto your children!)
3. Is it within your budget? (Be honest. Do you have X amount to spare, what about your electric and grocery bills? Your car?) 4. Would you still want it 30 days from now? (The answer is usually, no no no. Because we’re bombarded with so many temptations, our brains naturally overload on the things we want – so chances are you’re gonna be obsessed with something else between now and 30 days from now and won’t miss this item that tickled your fancy in the past tense.)
5. Could you wait until it goes on sale? (It’d be a good idea. This ties in to #4. Something better almost always comes along.)
What I find is that after going through these five questions. I end up keeping money in my wallet, no matter how small or large a purchase might be. I come to realize that 7 dollars for a tank top might be cheap, but wouldn’t it be more economical if I just wore the grey tank I already have in my closet and saved the 7 dollars? These small expenses do add up, much like lattes. Same for jeans. Out of the ridiculous amount I have sitting there in my closet, to this date I’ve only managed to wreck one due to regular wear in a span of five or six years. So I remind myself, every time I see a new product I want to add to my wardrobe, that if it takes me 5-6 years to wreck a pair of jeans, then I already have enough to last me until my eighties most likely. So there you have it, be smart with your money, because you slaved hard for it, therefore wasting it on stupid things would be … well, counterproductive to say the least.