When spending less money becomes a need

Spending less can be a fun challenge and even a great lifestyle change. However, when spending less becomes a necessity instead of something you just do because you want to, it become a whole lot less fun to do.

When I started this blog my goal was to spend less money, to consume less stuff and to be happier this way. And for me it worked! I was able to kick my shopping addiction to the curb and even had some money on my savings account. I wanted to do this, so I could be happier. And that’s what I got: I got happier by spending and owning less stuff.

But now spending less is no longer something I just want, but it became something I need to do if I want to be able to pay my rent at the end of the month. And when something becomes a need instead of a want, it all of a sudden becomes a bit stressful and not so much fun anymore.

As some of you may or may not know, at the beginning of September I went back to college, for the first time in years. Before, there were an awful lot of reasons why I wasn’t able to study, but that’s a story for another time. So, I’m a college student now and as we all know, college is expensive. I’m okay with that, I study something I truly love and which will give me a better future. But that doesn’t take the fact away that there’s even less money left at the end of the month.

Somewhere around mid-September one of my cats, Tijger, got seriously ill and I had to take him to the vet. Luckily he’s okay now and I thank God for that, but can you say “ka-ching!”? He also needs to stay on a special diet for the rest of his life, which I’m more than happy to provide because I love my cats more than anything, but, once again, it leaves even less money at the end of the month than there already was (or wasn’t) before.

As you can see there are multiple cost that got bigger and bigger over the past few months. Cost I’m willing to pay because they are worth it. But because of these extra costs, me wanting to spend less money became me needing to spend less money. So how do you deal with that? Here are some tips to help you deal with money stress.

Appreciate what you already have

This might sounds like an obvious tip, but a lot of people don’t really see how lucky they already are. When money is tight, the thought about what you can’t buy can quickly become overwhelming. This is a very negative mindset. It might help you out if you start to think about what you already do own and to realise that that’s enough (here’s the minimalistic thought again). I don’t have a lot of money, in fact, at the end of my money there’s still some month left. But that’s okay. I can provide the basic needs (food and shelter), I can take care of my two cats and sometimes there’s even some money left for a new pair of jeans or whatever. Look inside you closet, look around you, and ask yourself: Do I really need that new dress or is it just something I want and why?

Of course, if you’re no longer able to provide the basic needs, you can appreciate all you want, but that appreciation won’t be able to give you food and shelter. If this is the case, please seek contact with your local authorities for help.

Regain control over your financial situation

Make sure you know exactly how much money you earn and spend each and every month. This way you won’t have to stress out when you’re buying groceries or whatever, because you know exactly how much you have to spend. Make a feasible budget and stick to it.

Try to stay out of debt

If you’re already in debt, seek the help of a professional to help you out. If you’re not in debt, do your best to stay that way! Debts bring stress with them and when money is already tight, debt-related stress is the last thing you’ll need. And yes, sometimes you have to maintain an extremely sober lifestyle in order to stay out of trouble, but so be it. When money is tight and there’s nothing more you can do to change that, you sometimes have to realise that for now you won’t be able to go to the cinema, to eat out or to go clubbing with your friends. This is not the end of the world. There are a lot of fun activities you can do at home, without it costing you a single penny. For instance, watch a movie at home with your friends, do yoga, go running, go to the local petting zoo, go on a hike through nature, write, take pictures etcetera.

Choose to build a wealthy future

Use your money to create a secure financial future instead of spending it on material possessions. This way you’ll get a feeling of freedom and peace, something spending money you don’t have on all the expensive toys in the world will never give you. The first step to a less materialistic future is realising that money won’t buy you happiness. And yes, that is a cliché, but clichés are clichés because they are true. Of course, you need money to provide the basic needs, such as food, shelter and clothing. But when money, or rather spending money, start to take over your life, it’s time to take a real hard look at what’s really going on. Are you trying to fill a hole by buying stuff you don’t really need? Because that’s what I did. I felt so much sadness and I was really lonely, that I kept buying things just to feel a spark of happiness, even if it was for just a few seconds. Or maybe, there’s another reason why you’re so caught up in materialistic possessions. If you feel you can’t deal with the underlying issue by yourself, I highly recommend seeking the help of a professional, there’s not shame in that!

Do what works for you

Try to find a way of spending less that works for you in the long run. Maybe that’s by quitting materialism cold turkey or maybe by bringing your budget for clothing down just a little bit. Try to make your changes last, to create new habits that will help you and feel good to you even years from now. For me that was seeking the help of a professional to help me with my psychological issues, to create a healthier lifestyle for myself and to realise how blessed I already am, and that that has nothing to do with stuff.

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Miss Minimalist

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is a bit of a late announcement, but Upgrading Your Life With Less got featured on Miss Minimalist!

Click here for the original post

So here’s what I wrote:

Minimalism… Until about a year ago I never even heard of it. I mean, I knew about minimalistic art and design and found it to be utterly boring. I like colors, bold prints, wonderful fabrics! So, how did I fall in love with minimalism then? It’s a funny story really. Or, well, not really. But it has a very bright silver lining to it though! So stick with me.

About 2 years ago, I collapsed at work. Just dropped on the floor, totally blacked out for a moment. Turned out I was overworked. And not just overworked in the way that I needed a few days off to sleep a bit, regain some strength. Overworked as in the way of not being able to sleep at night, because all I could think about was my job and what would happen if I failed at it, overworked as in the way of not seeing my friends and family anymore, because all I did was work and after that I was too tired to do anything else. Overworked as in the way of yelling and screaming at my beloved boyfriend and my sweet feline friends about every little thing, because I was so tired and stressed out all of the time. Overworked as in not eating well anymore, because I had no time and energy to prepare meals. Overworked as in feeling like the only way I could make myself feel worthy and not like a total failure was by buying stuff, lots and lots of stuff…

So, that’s what I did, I bought stuff, and some more stuff, and some more. Shopping was like a drug to me. I would feel good for just a moment, but after that I would feel even worse than before. I’m pretty sure I was addicted to it. Until one day. It was about a year after I collapsed. I left my job after that horrible day, stayed home for a whole year, just to get a grip on reality again, to regain some energy, spirit and strength. After that year I felt ready. I didn’t knew for what, but I was ready for whatever would come my way. As I was browsing the Internet, I came across a weblog, called the Zen Habits. I started reading and a light went on. This was what I needed! To regain clarity of mind I needed to clear out my life!

So, I started right away. Not only did I deleted all phone numbers of people who were toxic to me, I also dropped all beauty products I needed to value myself. After that I went to my closet. Armed with a dozen trash bags I tackled all the clothing that I had that made me feel uncomfortable and/or didn’t fit my body or my personality. I felt so relieved, so… light! So my journey continued. I was reading every blog I could find about minimalism, including the wonderful Miss Minimalist, and I became more and more enthusiastic.

It has been a year now, and I feel better than ever. I don’t have to worry about stuff anymore and I regained my self-worth by realizing that I am not my stuff. I still feel like I’m on a journey when it comes to minimizing my lifestyle and belongings, but isn’t the journey part of the fun? I think it is!

Looking back at before I made the chance that might have saved my life, I felt like the wheel was turning, but the hamster was long dead. I think I knew all along that my way of living wouldn’t make me happy, and I’m so thankful for discovering minimalism. It gave me back my life.