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.
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.