Being ‘forced’ to stay indoors has its perks. It’s allowed me to spend a little time being introspective, and getting my thoughts and affairs in order.
As I shared with you before this, one of the challenges I’m facing during this troubled time is worry. Worry about how the world will change after this, how our social interactions will change, and more practically, how we will all be impacted by the declining economy.
The reality is that businesses are already feeling the effects of this forced shut down. Some people have already lost their jobs, or are told to take leave without pay. Others are feeling grateful they still have a job and a pay cheque at the end of the month.
If you belong in the latter category, be thankful for what you have. But also, consider this your wake up call, to set in place a more careful and prudent financial habit. As much as we don’t like admitting it, money does make the world a more comfortable and happier place.
Here are some things I’ve observed about my spending habits at this time, and how it may help you be more aware about your own 🙂
Is that purchase necessary?
This is something I’d put into practice a few months ago. I used to be quite cavalier about my purchases, and I’d drop a significant amount of money on beauty products or random purchaese, even though I already have so much.
However, when I decided to simplify my life, I had to take stock of my finances. Now, before I purchase anything, I’d ask myself the question “Is this purchase necessary? Can I do without?”
I challenged myself with this all throughout the sale season at the end of last year. I’d receive a tempting email from my favourite online stores offering generous discounts or value buy sets, and I’d pop over to have a look at them.
I might even fill my cart with these tempting buys. But I’d always pause at the last step and ask myself if it was absolutely necessary for me to buy it.
Often, the answer is no, and yes I can do without.
The upshot of this is that I ended up barely buying anything during the sale period. Instead of saving money on a ‘good deal’, I saved ALL my money, by not spending it in the first place.
Should you deny yourself little treats though? After all, most treats are unnecessary.
My answer is, of course not! You should allow yourself treats – but they should be that. A treat. Once you buy and buy without thinking too hard about it, it is no longer a treat, and you might want to have a think about why you are being so compulsive.
It is for this reason that I struggle to encourage people to spend at this time. I think this is the best time for everyone to pause for a moment in the pursuit of consumerism, and just think for a moment about whether we really need all these things that we are buying.
You don’t need to buy a new outfit to lounge about at home. You don’t need new makeup – most of us aren’t even putting any on. You don’t need new skincare if you are already happy with what you’re using.
By all means, buy yourself a treat now and then. Keep a little treats fund that you can dip into to treat yourself with. But this is your time to think about whether what you’re buying is a ‘treat’ or a compulsive need to keep up with others.
Eating out is a treat
Unlike most people, I didn’t eat out very much prior to this, so it wasn’t too big a transition for me to stop, or to slow down on it. For me, eating out is a treat. Food delivery is even more so.
During the time we were forced to stay home, I noticed many food businesses pivot to offer a delivery service. I applaud that, because I can forsee that this will be the future, and the sooner they get on the wagon, the easier it will be for them to turn it into a norm.
However, I also struggle with the cost of food delivery.
Because I consider eating out a treat however, I am willing to spend on that odd splurge, and cook the rest of the time. It is more cost effective, you hone a life skill, and you learn to appreciate eating out more. My spending went more to groceries than it did to food delivery or takeout.
While I understand the need to support small, local businesses like that of food vendors, I think we also have to balance it against our own willingness to spend, and the need to save. The latter is about self-preservation, and there is nothing wrong about wanting to be a little more prudent at this time.
Remember, a treat is not something that you indulge in often, for if you do, it stops being a treat.
Online shopping can lead to careless spending
While I did not spend very much on myself, I found myself browsing the online stores, buying things for my dog. While I would have bought them for him in any event, eventually, it would not have been within such a short space of time.
The thing about online shopping is that it can easily lead to careless spending, without you noticing it. A little purchase here and there of some cheap little items will eventually add up.
It’s then easy to just charge the purchases to your credit card or debit card, or more dangerously, your e-Wallet. No real money exchanges hands, and you may not notice just how much you’re really spending. When the bill arrives next month, you might be in for a bit of a shock!
Make online shopping work for you
But there is an upside to shopping online – easy comparison of prices to find the best deal. Stretch your dollar by finding the best price for the item you want. This does not mean compromising on lower quality or similar products, or ‘dupes’.
This means finding the best price for the item you want, and to get the best quality at the best price.
This is what I use the online shopping portals for. I search them to get the best possible prices for the items I want. I’d also wait for sales or discount codes, where possible.
RELATED READING: Sometimes, the better deals are found overseas. Here’s a guide to shopping from overseas online stores READ HERE
Be prudent about your spending
I’d hate to be the prophet of doom, and tell you to be careful about your finances. But the fact is that we are facing a looming global recession, which will impact us all.
I’d just like to encourage you to think a little bit about your spending habits, how it’s changed (or not) during this time that we’re asked to stay home, and how you think you can make things easier for yourself should you be forced to reduce your spending.
It’s a good time to take a good, long look at ourselves, and consider if we have been the slaves of consumerism for a little too long. Now’s the time to break the shackles.
Spend – the economy needs people to spend. But be prudent about it, and be sure to save so you can get to spend again another day 🙂
Have your spending habits changed in recent times?
I’ve been slowly changing mine over the years, and I will say that I’m tightening the belt a wee bit more, so the spending is a even more controlled. Can never be too prudent 🙂