When I got married in 2012 my dad said in his speech that if spending money were a sport then I would be Olympic champion and he was probably right. I had a reputation among my family and friends for spending money better than anybody else! But I wasn’t always like that. When I started work at 16 I was actually quite savvy with my money and I managed to save quite a bit before I left to go to University two years later.
In my first term at University I was one of the few students without an overdraft and I worked 2 days a week to keep me ticking over. But my positive relationship with money would soon deteriorate.
My four years at University were probably four of the most unhappy years of my life. I had no self confidence, I felt lonely and I spent most days just trying to fit in as best as I could. I became completely detached from who I was and being so far away from my family made it ten times worse. There were times, early on, when I almost walked away but for whatever reason I stuck it out and got my degree (and I don’t regret it as it got me where I am today!).
It was during those four years that I developed a very toxic relationship with spending money eventually ending up in huge amounts of debt (even for a student) which would take me years to pay off. I used shopping as a quick high and I bought STUFF to try and fit in and to lift my social status. I spent 4 years living a champagne lifestyle on a lemonade income.
I was a student working at Macdonalds, walking round in Armani sunglasses, using Clinique skincare and working out at David Lloyd’s gym. Did it make me any happier? Of course not. I always got a quick high from my purchases but the reality was that the mounting debt just made me more miserable and increased my self loathing.
And the lower my self worth became the more money I would spend.
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When I returned back to the North East I eventually paid off all the debt but my relationship with money would only start to improve as I began to work on the relationship with myself. As I began rebuilding my confidence and my self worth began I gradually began to wean myself off my shopping addiction.
It’s taken me years to get to the point where I don’t use shopping as a way to make me feel better. It can still be tempting at times, when I’m struggling with something emotionally, to simply get that quick high from a purchase but now that I’m more aware of those emotions and I have the tools to deal with them I can move forward and work through things without hammering the credit card.
‘Stuff’ will never make us feel better about ourselves. Why do you think there are so many wealthy people who despite their money still find themselves checking in and out of rehab?
If I had to choose, I’d rather spend my money now on a week away walking with Andy rather than buying another new handbag that I don’t need. I’d rather buy that plane ticket to see an old friend and tell them in person how much they mean to me. I’d rather do those things because I know they will genuinely make me happy. Will I still buy the occasional pair of nice shoes or a new outfit? Yes, of course I will but I won’t be buying them to try and fill me up emotionally. My spending habits are now detached from my emotional highs and lows.
So how can you improve your relationship with money…
- Try and resist impulse purchases, particularly expensive ones! Go away and think about it first. You can always go back and buy whatever it is later.
- When you feel the need to have a cash splurge go inside and see how you’re feeling? Has someone upset you recently? Have you had your confidence knocked? Consider what you could do to feel better before you splash the cash.
- When you make a purchase ask yourself on a scale of 1-10 how much happiness will this bring into your life?
- Be honest about your money and don’t bury your head in the sand like I did for a long time. Trust me when I say that debt can bring about a huge amount of misery. The CCCS were a fantastic support for me and offer great advice.
If any of this is sounding familiar. If you know that you need to work on loving yourself more, if your health and wellness isn’t as high a priority as you would like it to be then why not sign up for a free discovery session? A chance to chat, enjoy a half decent cuppa and a friendly ear…what have you got to lose?