Thursday, October 29, 2009

Greater Restraint

I don't talk about my weakness for shopping all that much, but be advised:

I have a weakness for shopping.

This could be brushed off as: oh, all women love to shop, or my personal favorite, which is: I need this dress because I can wear it to work OR to dinner with my friends but I have finally come to the conviction that those excuses are just that- excuses. I am a materialistic human being and while more socially acceptable, it doesn't make it any better than other vices.

I am blessed in that I have no debt and actually have money saved. I trivialize my retail spending by thinking that because of the fact that I am debt-free, I'm justified in spending what is there, when in fact I would rather be in an established pattern to tithe to my church and save first. I know what I want to do, but practicing it is a different story because that means changing my habits.

I met with my dad and my family's financial advisor last week to discuss my investments, and also moving forward what would be the best way for me to save more of my income. Saving more for me will mean actually having a budget, taking a close look at where I spend my money and deciding which areas can give a bit. I say actually having a budget because up until now, I haven't actually had one. I know- ridiculous. I like to throw out the adage used by liberal arts majors everywhere of I don't do numbers, but we're talking calculator work here. Definitely something a college graduate can handle.

Oh, math. I still don't like you.

I've have budget-related discussions with friends also recently, and found that many people are still doing what I'm doing: eye-balling their expenditures vs. their income on their online statements and just trying to keep expenses in-check. I have even started emailing my friend BF for accountability with my shopping habits- telling her what I buy when I shop, when I buy it and how much it cost. For every $100 I spend, I also have to get rid of two articles of clothing from one of my closets*. She actually called me the other day as I was departing the Anthropologie dressing room (impeccable timing) and as I confessed where she was, she replied with "this is your conscience speaking, it's time to leave."

My bank actually breaks down my monthly spending into categories online. This is great but also alarming, and as I start digging deeper into my spending and keep going into months further back I have been disappointed at how much money I spent on retail while I was living at home with my parents through May of this year. Money that could have been invested or saved for spending on more furniture for my house in Dallas. I was gchatting with KR regarding this and we were wondering how much of a disaster unchecked spending creates when women get married and have never been told "no."

I am thankful that I have much more of an awareness of spending now than I did this time two years ago, when I was fresh out of college and my parents paid for everything. It sounds elementary, but you don't understand the satisfaction and independence of financial freedom until it's actually yours. Granted, instant gratification would tell you to buy the new boots now because retirement is not any time soon, but given a bit of perspective and some financial goals, I can now more easily walk away.

{If this were a talk show, you would clap now.}

It would be bold of me to claim that Neiman Marcus and J.Crew are dead to me, but avoiding them does leave more zeroes in my bank account. I refuse to be a slave to money- a paycheck is just a means to live a life, not perpetuate a lifestyle.

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
-Winston Churchill

*I have a full closet at my house in Dallas and additionally one in my room at my parents' house. I know, it's shameful.


Stephanie said...

really needed this amy! thanks for sharing your thoughts.

erin - heart in ireland said...

ahhh! i feel ya!

now that i'm actually making a real salary i have to be careful! i was pretty good when i was making nothing, but now that i have more money, i need to continue living like i still don't have it. i can be such an impulse shopper! but i'm trying to save for an apartment and build up my savings. eeeeek, being an adult!