Confessions Of A Recovering Shopaholic # 4

We’re in the fourth and final post of the series: Maintenance and Further Prevention.  This phase details how I am able to maintain a debt-free lifestyle and a controlled shopping addiction.  Controlled?  Does that mean I’m still a shopaholic?  I don’t think I am for the most part – I still love shopping and I still have urges, but I no longer feed my addiction to nearly the extent I did before.

Savings And Long-Term Goals

From 2005-2008, my debt and shopping addiction was spiraling out of control.  I finally recognized I had a problem and set about fixing the problem from 2008-2010.  In 2010, I was out of debt and in mid-2011, I had my dream wedding.  At that point, I started to focus on contributing to the savings.  My husband Justin had saved more than enough for an emergency fund since handing me our wedding fund.  I set a personal goal to save as much as possible.  I didn’t have reason to save with a deadline like I had with my wedding.  I just knew that we wanted to build a substantial savings for our future.  We plan on having children and eventually owning a house.  We also wanted to travel as much as possible before expanding our family.  We decided on a specific amount to save aka Savings Goal 1 then we’d go from there.

Budget Adjustments

Justin and I added each other to our accounts, however we manage our finances separately as we did pre-marriage though I keep track of our entire savings.  Currently my budget breakdown looks more like this:

  • 14% Living Expenses – This has changed drastically.  My brother and I sold our condo, and we’re now renting an apartment down the street from where we used to live.  Also, I used to budget my cellphone bills within my living expenses.  After the wedding, I switched over to my husband’s provider under his bill so I no longer include it in my personal budget.
  • 19% Car Expenses – Justin and I purchased a car so these expenses include the loan payment, insurance, gas, and maintenance.  Insurance for our two cars and rental are consolidated into one payment.  We got a five year loan but we plan to pay it all off as part of Savings Goal 1.
  • 7% Credit Card Payments – This accounts for significantly less than it used to.  I rarely use my credit cards nowadays so there will be months where I don’t even need to submit a payment.  When I do use them, it’s usually for travel expenses and buying e-books on my Kindle.  I’ll submit payments for the entire balance or work it out so I pay it off in no more than three months.
  • 40% Savings – This makes up the largest percentage in the breakdown.  This coincides with my focus.  Once we reach Savings Goal 1, I plan to open a Roth IRA.  Maybe we’ll start investing in stocks?
  • 20% Miscellaneous – I’ve consolidated food, entertainment, shopping, etc. into this category because these vary.  I judge my spending on whatever is leftover after the above breakdown items.

Track Spending

I’ve made a habit of tracking my finances daily.  Every morning, I’ll check all my accounts and update my budget spreadsheet to calculate how much of the Miscellaneous I have left.  Every paycheck, I’ll perform recalculations and estimate spending for next pay period.  As mentioned, I also keep track of our savings.  I’ve become quite Excel savvy!  Here’s my current spending cycle:

And I’ve controlled my shopping habits.  I’ll plan ahead if I want to go shopping.  Yes, I still go shopping but I’m not spending around $500 every pay period as before.  That’s averaging $1000 in a month!  Recently, I’d spend at most $300 in a couple months on clothes, shoes, and makeup.  I’m sure I’ll write posts on what clothes, shoes, makeup, etc. I purchase.  They still bring me much delight!  I also don’t go to the mall as often.  Justin HATES going to the mall so if I do go, it’s usually on an off Friday (I work a 9/80 schedule so I get every other Friday off).  I don’t like going to the mall on Saturday or Sunday because I consider that our quality time.

Stay Motivated

There are three big motivators for me to focus on saving, thus helping me maintain control of my spending:

1)  I never wanted to be in the financial position I was previously in.

2)  I changed my mentality in spending once I understood why I became a shopaholic (Step 1 in the Solution).  Last year, I realized that materialistic things don’t necessarily equate to success.  I had all those things, but they weren’t giving me peace of mind and happiness which sort of led me to motivator 3.

3)  I came to the conclusion I will eventually run a full-time business.  I want to feel fulfilled and follow my passions.  I’m still figuring all that out, but I know that it will take a lot of financial sacrifices therefore I have to start acting like I’m on a more limited budget (by putting a lot of my income into my savings!).

Conclusion

Justin and I are easily able to make pricier purchases because we have a substantial enough savings where we could elect to not contribute for a month or take money out without it being a significant hit.  For example, we put a hefty down payment when we purchased our car.  Since our wedding, my husband and I have travelled a lot – Cancun, Maui, Europe (Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, and Barcelona), NYC, and San Francisco Bay Area at least five times.  We’re going to Thailand and Hong Kong in less than a month (super excited!), Vallarta for my brother’s wedding next year, and we’re planning to travel more in the future.  Oh, and I guiltlessly had my husband buy me a Chanel purse while in Paris.  I couldn’t quite allow him to get the classic flap bag because it costs as much as our whole Euro trip!

So, what’s my point?  Where am I getting at?

  1. You can get out of debt
  2. You can control your shopping addiction
  3. You can build a substantial savings
  4. You can still make bigger purchases and travel the world
  5. You can do all this but you have to change your mentality and stay motivated

Here’s a summary of the steps I took (and am still taking) to shopaholic recovery:

I hope you’ve found this series helpful.  Anything to add?  Questions and comments are highly encouraged!

Enjoy Ginet

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