The Difference Between My Shopping Habits Now and Before

August 29, 2014 Permalink

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I loved to spend money. This was before I discovered the joy of waking up in the morning on payday and transferring half of my paycheque into my savings account. Be still, my heart.

Now I save money like it’s my job. But back then, I couldn’t even save a penny.

I didn’t even know that I loved to spend money, it just seemed to fly out of my hands as quickly as I could make it. I actually thought I was frugal, because almost everything I bought was on sale. A large chunk of my earnings went to rent, tuition, and transportation, but another huge chunk went down the drain.

Fortunately, I learned how to manage money properly before it was too late. My spending habits changed drastically when I moved, as I started to manage the finances of my dad’s business. In managing the way the funds were allocated for the business, I learned a lot about the principles of saving, investing, and spending.

good vs. bad ways to spend money

I also began reading smaller, more relatable personal finance blogs (I’ve always been a reader of the larger ones), which helped me put things into perspective and work toward my own form of financial freedom.

My shopping habits were not sustainable prior to making the change.

Clothing Shopping Then

I used to buy a high volume of cheap clothing that started to look worn and shabby after one wash.

I would spend my lunch breaks roaming the mall, supposedly “window shopping” but often buying these items from stores like Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters.

If it was on sale and I didn’t really like it, I would still buy it if I thought that the deal was good enough. An ugly tank top for $5? I’d still find myself at the register, digging in my wallet for my bank card, thinking that there would surely be someplace for me to wear it.

Clothing Shopping Now

Now, I buy clothing when I need it.

I love fashion and feeling great in what I am wearing, but instead of buying a large quantity of cheaply made clothing, I demonstrate these interests by spending more (sometimes) on quality, classic pieces that I actually want and need.

My wardrobe now consists of a handful of trendy items mixed in with a few key pieces which will last me for far longer than would anything those cheap stores sell, and will continue looking good for years to come.

Anything that I need to replace, I will do so, with quality instead of quantity.

Grocery Shopping Then

J and I were at the grocery store the other day, picking up something from the freezer aisle, when I reminded him of our terrible grocery shopping habits of when we first moved in together.

First of all, we were eating like crap. Every item in our cart would be something from the processed food aisles: cereals, packaged cookies, “fruit” snacks, pudding, chips, Poptarts, bagels, you name it.

Second, we often went shopping without a meal plan, and would buy a handful of fresh ingredients which would just spoil in the fridge because we had no real plan for it. We were spending well over $800/month on food for the both of us, none of it healthy and much of it ending up in the trash.

Grocery Shopping Now

Now, we meal plan, brown bag our lunches, and skip the processed food, opting instead for whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

Our diets are much better for it, and as a result we both feel better than we ever did eating all of that crap. Furthermore, we spend substantially less on groceries than we did during our grocery free-for-all.

I will always remember one time, standing in line at the grocery store in front of an elderly couple, with our carts to the brim full of “food”. The woman nudged her husband and whispered: “Oh, they must have a big family”.

That should have made us stop and think about how much food we were buying (and how much of it is marketed towards children), but it didn’t click for a few years.

 Shopping for Leisure Items Then

Leisure items can be anything from a television, to our bikes and hiking boots.

Back when J and I first started dating, if we wanted something like a bike, new television, or even a car, we’d find the cheapest possible version of the item and buy that.

We would then grow tired of whatever poor quality item we’d purchased, and go buy one that was equally as cheap but maybe a bit easier on the eyes.

The cycle would continue, the product would break or we would grow tired of the glitches or issues with it, and we’d have to get a new one.

Shopping for Leisure Items Now

Now, we spend hours researching before we even step foot into a store. We look for quality, functionality and anticipated life of the product before even looking at the price.

After we’ve narrowed it down to a handful of items, we’ll compare them for value, and then go check it out in the store.

We buy things only that we know that we’ll use for years to come (our bikes, for instance) and don’t bother with stuff that will just end up cluttering our garage.

 

It’s so refreshing having quality instead of quantity, and being able to rely on our purchases instead of live in fear that they are going to wear out. We change and adapt throughout our lives, and this is one change that I’m grateful we made.

Cutting Out Information Overload & Focusing On Things that Improve Your Life

August 26, 2014 Permalink

A couple of months ago, I signed into my Rogers account to see why my phone bill was double that of what it usually is.

The answer was simple: I had gone over my monthly data allotment twice over.

I had a lot of data, and never even once came close to going over, so I knew there was an issue. I phoned Rogers and they sent me a log of all the data I had used each day for that billing period.

I know that I spend a lot of time on my phone, but even so, I was shocked by just how much.  I saw that even separate from the incident that resulted in my high bill (something uploading overnight), I use the data on my phone a disgusting amount.

I use data for a variety of different reasons: Google Maps, social media, email, and of course as a time killer. I have spent more time than I would like to admit browsing the  “What’s Hot” section on Buzzfeed.

What I didn’t realize until I got that report, was that I am usually using the data on my phone to obtain information that is of no use to me, and that does not align with my values.

make decisions that improve your life

At best, my cell phone data ads little benefit to my life. At worst, it’s a tool used for procrastination and the nursing of an unhealthy dose of “FOMO” (fear of missing out).

I found myself checking my Facebook when I was at dinner with a friend, reaching for my phone on date nights when I should have been focusing on J, and (in the interest of full disclosure) even checking my email at red lights.

As I sit down to write for Add Vodka, I find my thumb dragging the slider across the screen of my iPhone, a mindless reaction to a pause in my thoughts or a moment of difficulty articulating something.

I came to the realization that I was paying an extra $40 per month for something to distract me and fill my mind with clutter.

After coming to this realization, I pushed the glaring evidence out of my mind, and save for the occasional gut feeling that I needed to get rid of the damn data, I forgot about it.

I spent the next few weeks falling back into old bad behaviours, my phone always at my fingers, social media always at my beck and call.

A couple of weeks ago I sat there with my phone in my hand, scrolling through Twitter, annoyed at the lack of quality tweets of some of the people I follow. I switched to Facebook and became quickly annoyed with that, too. Then I realized: I wasn’t annoyed by the people I follow on either social media site. I was annoyed because Facebook and Twitter and 98% of the information gleaned from the apps on my phone and the data that I use is filling my brain with crap that I don’t need to know and never really wanted to know.

This useless information was nudging out the space for the stuff that I do want to know and learn, leaving little room for the information that I should be focusing on: information which will help propel me forward and on which I can take action. Information that will contribute to my living a positive, healthy life.

In short, having data on my phone was making my life worse, even marginally.

I try to run all of my decisions through this simple test:

“Will this decision improve my life, have a neutral effect, or make my life worse?”

And for me, inarguably, the empty information obtained through my phone and the distraction and procrastination it provided pushed the data plan into the “worse” category.

Data is not inherently evil, but I wasn’t using it in a positive way.

It’s hard to change a habit, so instead of trying to restrain myself from checking Twitter every half an hour, I decided to cancel my data plan on my phone.

I realize that it is fairly rare that a female member of the Generation Y population – especially a blogger – exist without a data plan on her phone, but I still have WiFi at home.

This is taking effect September 1, which is the beginning of the next billing cycle. It will be easy at first; I’ll be on my honeymoon until early-mid October, where I will have no use for data.

Where I think I’ll likely struggle is planning ahead. I rely on Google Maps to get me where I need to go, and I rely on my phone for price comparisons, coupons, and other things when I am out and about. In the end, that is a small hurdle to improve my life and a good habit to get into, regardless.

Information overload is a problem in our society and it leaves little room for making important decisions and important information. Instead of trying to beat the system and show some serious restraint, I’m cutting the source of much of it from my life.

(Shout out to Cait for her recent post about pushing past clutter and James Clear for his not so recent post about information overload for giving me that extra push to cut out the intellectual clutter)

Financial Wins and Spending | Week 4

August 24, 2014 Permalink

financial winsI’m posting this a bit late because over the past weekend, we spend some time at my mom and stepdad’s house in our hometown. As summer is winding down and we are away on our honeymoon in just a couple of weeks for the better part of a month, we wanted to take the opportunity to spend some time with them.

It was a nice, short trip and I’m just now settling down and getting some work done. The (small) cost of this trip will show up on next week’s spending report.

Last week, we broke the seal on our spending and enjoyed ourselves a little more.

We have been very fortunate in that we haven’t had any unexpected or emergent expenses come up, so we’ve been able to save a significant amount of our take home pay over the past month or so. We feel a bit more freedom as a result, so we have loosened up the purse strings and enjoyed a date night out and some ice cream.

Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 5.28.50 PM

Eating Out

This included a fun date night with J, an awesome dinner with Cait, and a couple of other smaller food purchases.We don’t have much of an entertainment budget besides eating out, so I’m fine with this number.

Gas & Groceries

These are both fairly standard; we’ve been trying to eat what is in our cupboards recently, so our grocery bill has been a bit lower than we might expect it to be. This isn’t reflective of what J spent on groceries; we ended up going at different times throughout the week.

On Friday, I bought some munchies for the road at the dollar store so they are included in the figure.

Financial Wins

The financial fortune continues!

Blackberries

We live in this amazing corner of the world that has so much to offer, including: blackberries!

This time of year is a forager’s dream. The blackberry bushes were all bearing fruit, and on Sunday, J and I took our bikes over to a local park which has a walkway lined with blackberry bushes and scored five pounds of sweet goodness.

This is a financial win because every morning, I have a smoothie with a fruit in it. Usually, we buy fruit from farmers markets and freeze it, or just buy frozen fruit if whatever I want isn’t in season. These bags of fruit usually cost upward of $6, and over the past week I have been able to use the blackberries in my smoothies. Score!

More Price Adjustments

I incurred another business expense and while this doesn’t have an effect on our personal finances, I still scored by getting three more price adjustments due to the store’s price match policy.

The adjustments were to the tune of $78.

Vouchers and Freebies

As part of the orientation at my new job, which didn’t happen until this week, I got a voucher for a free lunch at a local cafe and a free workout at a local facility. I love freebies so I will definitely take advantage.

I’ve also been scoring Swagbucks like crazy lately, thanks to a few people I’ve referred. Referrals are the best way to earn Swagbucks, so if you are wondering how to ramp it up and earn a lot more, get some of your friends, family members, or followers to sign up. You get more Swagbucks, they earn Swagbucks, everybody gets free stuff. Referral link here if you haven’t already signed up.

 

Let the wins continue!