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The question I would like to discuss with you today is “How much money should I spare for shopping?”. A pretty unique topic, huh? I do understand that not everyone is keen in answering this, simply because not all people like shopping. But just like any other activity, shopping can be a priority for some people, and barely a thing for some. Today’s episode is specifically made to help you who belong to the former type. 

For these people, shopping is more than just an activity to fulfill basic and essential needs in life. It is a lifestyle. For us, clothes are not just to protect our body, but it is also a symbol of status and self-image. Furniture and electronics are not just to help us do our job, but it is also a parameter of sophistication and savviness. Cars and houses are not just accommodation, but it is also a proof of success and wealth. To achieve those objectives, we are willing to spend money to acquire the things we want. Until at one point, we looked back to our monthly expense recap and realized we just spent most of our life-work for these things.

And then we ask ourselves, “Am I spending too much or is it just me being paranoid?” Well, I’ll tell you, it is good that you start asking yourself this. It means you are aware that the yellow light has emerged. But before you let yourself worry too much, you have to firstly be certain that your worries are, indeed, valid. Based on my experience, there are three signs you can keep an eye on to determine whether you are on the hot ground or not. First, let’s take a look at your historical finances. Pull back your finance records all the way back from 1 year ago. Yes, you heard it right. This is important to see whether you have established a pattern of excessive spending, and how far ago did it start. If you don’t keep any record of finances – just like I did years ago – start picking up the pieces and do the best you can to recall the details. Next, you need to classify your purchases into two different categories: need and want. If you ended up seeing a heavier proportion of purchases in the “want” category, then move on to the last sign. Continuous dig and cover pattern. 

No matter how important shopping is to you, never make it a first priority in your budget. I can’t stress this enough. First priority should always be savings, investment and bills. When you receive your monthly paycheck, or any other pay in any period of time, budget the amount for savings, investments and paying the bills and immediately take it out from the budget. If you feel like you are having a hard time conforming to this first rule, then I think you might need more support than just listening to this information. Believe it or not, shopping addiction is a thing, and a lot of research has come up with different ways to measure shopping addiction. The Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale is a good reference to start, developed by a group of researchers at the Faculty of Psychology at University of Bergen. If you see yourself inclining towards a shopping addiction, consider contacting a licensed professional that can help you on a deeper level.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting shopping as your second priority after investment and bills, especially if you consider it an important hobby that excites you. Or, if you are a hardcore fashionista. However, when it comes to pleasure spending, I strongly recommend you to always play on a fixed percentage. Why? Because by using a percentage system, you get two benefits. One, you will automatically decrease your budget when your income decreases, and that way you won’t drive yourself straight into bankruptcy. And two, you will have more shopping budget when your income increases, and that way you will have the opportunity to indulge and treat yourself to some appreciation shopping. Win-win, right? Yes, both wins are on you. 

What is the right percentage allocation for shopping? Well, the number that is right for me might not be right for you and most likely will not be right for our fellow shopaholics out there. You get to decide your own number. But, I can share with you some considerations that I use to calculate my shopping budget allocation. After subtracting allocation for investments, bills and daily expenses, I ended up with the amount I can freely spend. Based on my historical spending, I try to calculate how much of my money I spent on standard basic shopping. For example, buying new work clothes, workout clothes, phone and computer accessories, replacement furnitures, et cetera. Let’s assume that the total for that is 15% of the remaining budget. So, I simply multiply it by two, which means I would allocate 30% of the remaining budget for shopping. What happens to the remaining 70%? I’ll do the same for the next hobby I have on my list. Well, honestly, shopping is not my first hobby. 

Need I remind you again, this is what works for me. It will be different to you. Most importantly, find your own way of calculating the allocation that works for you. Test and learn. Perfection doesn’t come overnight. Final tip from me: be consistent. To really make this work, keep on repeating and make this a habit instead of just a one time thing. 

So, are you ready to make a change? I would love to hear what you think! Shoot me an email at dannis@lifeforexperts.com. Or, connect with me through my website in LifeForExperts.com, my Twitter in @lifeforexperts, or my Instagram in @lifeforexpert without the letter “s” at the end.

Thank you for trusting Life For Experts. Never stop learning to become an expert in life. I’m Dannis, and I will see you next time. Bye!

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