Overcoming My Shopping Addiction

shopping addiction

Guest post Elizabeth of Witty ‘N’ Pretty

The world we live in values beauty above all else. The more beautiful a person is, the more value they have. It’s no wonder people, women in particular, lack confidence. We try to make up for our shortcomings in many ways.

For me, I tried to make up for mine by shopping because in my mind, the more expensive things I owned, the more value I had.

Every time I bought something, I experienced two things.

First, was happiness, because I felt prettier and more valuable.

Then I felt guilt, because I knew I couldn’t afford what I was buying.

When I bought something I couldn’t afford, it counteracted the happiness because my value was decreasing. The lifestyle I wanted was unattainable for a girl still in college.

For whatever reason, I couldn’t come to terms with that. I didn’t accept it until I maxed out a credit card and ended up using student loans to fund my shopping trips.

I knew I had to change, so I did.

Since I’m confessing my struggles to you, I may as well say that the temptations to shop and spend money never completely go away. However, I learned to ignore the little voice inside my head telling me to spend, spend, spend.

Eventually, you’ll learn how to do this too… here’s how I’m just doing that:

1. Cut up the credit card.

Yes, the most precious piece of plastic you own will be in little pieces after the scissors gets through with it.

Having a credit card in your wallet tells you that even if you can’t afford something at that moment, your line of credit will let you buy it anyway.

Chop up those cards!

2. Write it down… with an actual pen.

Write down anything and everything you buy and exactly how much it cost. This allows you to see where your money goes and any trends in your spending.

I noticed two things about myself: I liked to drink overpriced coffee and I liked to look good doing it. Knowing this helped me take the next step toward addiction recovery.

3. Stop doing the things that cause you to spend money.

For one month, I didn’t allow myself to buy anything but food and gas. It didn’t matter what was on sale or how great of a deal it was (I love getting a bargain), I wasn’t going to buy it.

At first, this is like giving up the last life ring on a sinking ship. You feel like you’re going to drown. Just like anything else though, it becomes routine.

4. Retrain your brain.

For the longest time, I honestly believed that my worth and my attractiveness was based on how many Kate Spade bags I had and the car I drove.

During my month long shopping break, I focused on building my confidence up. I tried to find beauty in the talents I had and the personality I was born with. I talked with mentors and people I trusted to help me find my self-worth.

Truthfully, I’m still finding my worth. I believe it’s a journey though. It can’t be done in a month or even a year. I still appreciate pretty things, but I don’t place my worth in them.

Do I struggle with wanting these things? Of course, but I can say “no” to myself now. I understand and respect my financial limits and still see value in who I am.

Some may scoff and wonder what’s wrong with me, I can only tell them that everyone struggles with something and being addicted to shopping was my “something”.

Liz is a young, 20-something with a passion for living a beautiful, debt-free life. After graduating college, she realized how important it is for her to get her finances together and start sharing how you can have a great lifestyle for a lot less. She blogs at Witty ‘N’ Pretty.

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5 Surefire Solutions to Help You Stick With Your Budget

5 Surefire Solutions to Help You Stick With Your Budget

This post is the first post in a three-part underwritten series of posts I’ll be writing on behalf of the Visa Clear Prepaid program and the Walmart MoneyCard.

Struggling to follow through with that budget you’ve set? Here are 5 tried and true tips, tricks, and tools to help you actually stick with your budget:

1. Create Motivational Goals

Want to have more momentum when it comes to saving more and spending less? Set some realistic but inspirational goals.

Goals give you purpose, passion, and drive. They make short-term sacrifices more worth it, because you know you have long-term benefits in mind.

Wishing you could pay cash for Christmas, pay down your credit card debt, save for a piece of furniture, or even pay off your mortgage faster? Sit down and look at your current budget. See if there are areas you could streamline or cut back in.

Do the math on how much you could save or put toward your debt if you were to cut back $10 or $30 or even $50 every week. Knowing that these cuts are going to propel you toward your end game more quickly will inspire you to follow through with them over the long haul.

5 Surefire Solutions to Help You Stick With Your Budget

2. Focus on the Bite-Sized Chunks

If you want to discourage yourself, look at your savings goal or debt left to pay off as a whole. It probably looks mammoth and insurmountable. And you’ll want to quit saving or paying down debt immediately because it feels so overwhelming.

This is why I’m a big fan of breaking your big goals down into small pieces. If you want to save up $500 to pay cash for Christmas this year, don’t think about the $500 amount as a whole. Cut it down into the amount you’d need to save each month (about $42) and then the amount you’d need to save each week (about $10.50).

When you look at the weekly amount, it feels much more doable. And you can start to get creative to come up with simple and outside-the-box ways to shave that $10.50/week off your current budget.

In addition, you’ll be much more apt to stick with your budget if you feel encouraged from the get-go and like pulling off your goal is actually a reality, not some far-fetched, pie-in-the-sky dream idea.

5 Surefire Solutions to Help You Stick With Your Budget

3. Pay With Cash or a Prepaid Card

You all well know that I’m a big advocate of using cash. The beauty of cash is that it gives you instant self-discipline: when the money’s gone, the money’s gone.

You can’t go over-budget when you only use cash. Well, I mean, you can, but you’ll be robbing another budget category to do so.

You also can’t spend more money than you actually have when you only use cash. It’s a very visual way to be able to track how much money you have to spend.

However, I know that cash is not always practical in every situation. It’s impossible to pay with cash online and some people find that it burns a big hole in their pocket — causing them to spend more money than they would if they swipe a card.5 Surefire Tricks to Help You Stick With Your Budget

That’s why an alternative to cash you could consider would be using a prepaid card like the Walmart MoneyCard® Reloadable Prepaid Visa® Card, part of the Visa Clear Prepaid program. It works very similarly to cash in that you can’t overspend with it — once the money is gone off the card, you are done being able to swipe it (unless you refill it). So it gives you instant self-discipline, too.

Using a prepaid card is especially a great option if you’re wanting to stick with a specific budget in a specific budget category. For instance, if you set a budget for your Christmas gifts and you want to make sure that you don’t go over it, if you designate your budget amount as the amount on the card and you don’t use anything but the card for Christmas gift purchases, you’ll be guaranteed more likely to stick with your budget. Plus, you can use the card both online and offline.

4. Use a Money-Tracking App

Money-tracking apps and websites can not only help you set up your budget, but they can help you continue to stay on track with it. There are a variety of apps and sites out there — each with their pros and cons.

These apps and websites typically take you step-by-step through the process of creating your budget and will then give you real-time reports on how much you have to spend in each budget category. As you make purchases or deposits, you can update your budget in just a few seconds.

Used well and updated daily, it’s almost like a virtual cash envelope system — without having to mess with any cash or coins at all. Plus, the pie charts and information available at your fingertips will help you better know exactly what your current financial picture looks like and encourage you to continue to stay on track with your budget.

5 Surefire Solutions to Help You Stick With Your Budget

5. Get an Accountability Partner

I cannot stress the importance of having some built-in accountability when it comes to budgeting. You need people to help you stay the course, even when the going gets tough.

Accountability can be found in many different places. It could be monthly Budget Meetings with your spouse. It could be posting your financial goals on your refrigerator in graph form and updating your progress on saving or paying down debt as you gain momentum. It could be a goal app like Commit.

It could be reading books and blogs that inspire you to practice better money management. It could be joining an online group or online community of others who are seeking to get out of debt.

For best results, choose multiple accountability sources — some that are in-person and regularly check-in with you and some that are just motivational online or offline resources that serve as reminders to stick with your budget and keep going.

You don’t have to always feel like you’re falling off the Budget Bandwagon! Implement at least a few of these tips and tools and you are bound to experience much more budgeting success!

What helps YOU stick with your budget? Tell us in the comments!

This post is underwritten by the Visa Clear Prepaid Program. With the Visa Clear Prepaid program, there’s less stress in choosing and using a prepaid card. Cards meeting the Visa Clear Prepaid standards provide you with transparency and protection, resulting in more time to do the things you love.

With a card that meets the Visa Clear Prepaid standards, it means your day-to-day activities are covered by a clearly communicated fee plan, so you’ll know when you’ll pay a fee and when you won’t. Go to Visa.com to find the prepaid card that works for you.

And stay tuned for a 30-day Grocery Spending Challenge we’ll be running in partnership with the Visa Clear Prepaid program and the Walmart MoneyCard in the upcoming weeks to encourage you to stick with your budget, spend less, and save more!

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6 Non-Phone Work at Home Options

non-phone-msm

Guest post from Anna of Real Ways to Earn

Let’s face it — phone jobs are fairly common in the work-from-home world. A quick “work-from-home” keyword search on any popular job site will likely bring you pages and pages of results for phone-oriented work.

The obvious downside to phone jobs is that many people have legit reasons for not being able to do them. Maybe you have a loud background at home due to kids or pets. Maybe you’re hearing impaired. Maybe you don’t have a land line phone — or any phone — and can’t get one. Maybe you simply aren’t a people person and the idea of talking to strangers on the phone all day doesn’t appeal to you. Or maybe it’s a combination of all of the above!

Gratefully, there are quite a few non-phone options out there if a work-at-home phone job just isn’t in the cards for you. Here are 6 different options:

1. Chat Support

Chat-based customer support is the same as phone support, the obvious difference being that instead of helping customers via live conversation, you’re doing so via chat and email so it is completely non-phone.

Apple and Needle are two reputable companies that are frequently hiring chat agents to work at home.

2. Search Engine Evaluation

This type of work is also referred to as “Google Rating.” The work is more complex than I can explain in a few sentences, but to sum up, you are basically helping to ensure that major search engines like Google and Bing are providing the absolute best results possible for every search query typed in.

People who tend to excel at search engine evaluation are usually very internet savvy, good at doing online research, and well-versed in popular culture.

Some reputable companies to consider for search evaluation include Leapforce, Lionbridge, and Appen.

3. Freelance Writing

Freelance writers take on writing assignments from either personal clients or through content sites, blogs, and so forth. The great thing about freelance writing is that it’s one of the most flexible non-phone jobs out there. You can work any time of the day or night and take as many breaks as you need provided that deadlines are met.

Two companies that are almost always accepting new writers are Textbroker and Demand Media. However, you’ll earn the most money as a writer if you work to find private clients so you can set your own rates.

4. Transcription

Transcribers listen to audio files and type what they hear. While this may sound easy enough, it actually requires a lot of patience and concentration. Simply put, not everyone is cut out for it. It’s one of those things you just have to try out and see if it’s a fit for you.

The three most common types of transcription are general, medical, and legal. General is the easiest type of transcription to break into as a beginner because many companies will consider you with no past experience.

Verbal Ink, Focus Forward, and Quicktate are a few reputable companies with regular openings.

5. Test Scoring

As a remote test scorer, you’ll be scoring student’s standardized tests and essays. This is usually project-based work. In most cases, you’ll need at minimum a college degree to qualify. Some companies may require that you have a teaching degree, too.

Reputable companies that frequently have home-based scoring openings include Pearson and ETS.

6. Virtual Assisting

Virtual assistants have clients who need help with day to day things and provide that help — virtually. While it’s true that there are many virtual assistants who do phone work, not all do.

Most virtual assistants have different skill sets and the work they do will revolve around these skills, such as writing, graphic design, or social media management.

Some well-known companies that regularly hire virtual assistants include Fancy Hands and Worldwide 101. You can also go into business for yourself as a VA and get some private clients. That’s usually the most lucrative route.

As you can see, there are plenty of non-phone options in the work from home world! Hopefully these suggestions will have you doing some serious thinking about which industry you should pursue for non-phone work and be well on your way to getting started.

What about you? Do you have a non-phone work at home job you love?

Anna Thurman is a work at home mom and blogger. She’s been researching and writing about work from home jobs since 2010. Her findings are published via her website, Real Ways to Earn.

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