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.
You’re spot on with #2! As I help people create their budgets, I encourage them to write down what they spend their money on. They’re always amazed at what they’re “wasting” their money on!
Thank you for sharing candidly about your struggles, Elizabeth. What a blessing for others to know they’re not alone!
I am the same way. Always felt ugly so bought pretty things, make the house look fabulous so they dont see me. It has taken me 50 years to realize this is not how it should be and I am someone. Still have some downtimes but always working on changing.
Yessel @Happy Home in the City says
There is a lot of pressure and emphasis on keeping up with the latest and greatest thing, whether it’s keeping up with a certain image or using a certain technology. The temptation is everywhere, not just at malls and billboards, but online. And not only from Hollywood and corporations, but from lifestyle bloggers who may live in the most remote area of the nation. Accountability is important when struggling with something and it’s great to let others know in order to keep you on track. Thanks for sharing. ~Yessel
The FlyLady and Pam Young talk about your inner child or inner brat. This has been really helpful imagery for me. I acknowledge what my inner child wants (I want to be pretty, I want to be loved, I want the novelty of new things, etc) and rationally agree how to achieve that.
This is such a great post. I honestly have struggled with this heavily and I think many women do, but never admit it. It’s seen as shameful but the more people that admit to it the more we can help each other. I know myself, it’s hard to decide when you’re investing in health and your wellness or hygiene, or if you’re wasting money. This is a great post. Thanks for writing it!
“Retraining your brain.” I think this is key. When we have gone through financially hard times, retraining our brains is something we do nearly every day. It is so counter cultural, delayed gratification, which makes even more retraining necessary, I think. Thanks for sharing!
Mrs. LC@LooseChangeLiving says
Our value and beauty comes from within and not from material items. Many people struggle with that concept. Thank you for the courage to break out of the mine set and share your issues with others.
Thank you for sharing your journey with us. We all learn and grow as we go through life. I enjoy hearing how other people come to their lifestyle decisions. It sounds like you’ll be in a fantastic place as you move forward. 🙂
Gwen Hurst says
My family practices what we call “No-spenduary” &”No-spendtember”. In January we just by food and gas, using our stock piled pantry and freezer to get through. This is a relief after the indulgence of the holidays. In September, we enjoy the fresh produce and fruit from the garden. Nothing extra is needed after school shopping. We love the break from commercialism and take the time to financially regroup.
I really enjoyed reading your thoughts, Liz. I, too, used to spend money on clothes, home decor, etc. because I felt a void in my life and didn’t know my self worth beyond these material things. In retrospect, I call them my “security blankets” because (at the time at least) they gave me a very temporary boost that quickly turned into guilt. I’m glad you brought up the benefits of using simple paper and pen to make yourself accountable – this has helped me immensely as well!
Our “needs” (food, medical, shelter, clothing basics, insurance, gasoline…) come from DH’s paychecks. Our “wants” (birthday gifts, swimming lessons, eating out once every few months, ceramics classes, “pretty” clothes, etc) come from my earnings as a freelance / independent contractor.
Reelika @Financially Wise On Heels says
I honestly love to shop, and it is easy to get really addicted. However, I always try to live under my means. I have figured that if I want to buy something that I don’t need, I just need to make this extra income and therefore I can afford it. From my regular paycheck I just pay what I “need”, not what I “want.”